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Notes on the Geography of Peru: Cusco: Photo 69

world pictures Peru: Cusco

Here, maybe two blocks away, is the longest surviving Inca wall, not as imaginative as Hatun Rumiyoc but impressively neat and of course without mortar. The building is the Acllawasi, which in Inca times housed the so-called "chosen women" in a kind of harem. The Spanish made the place a convent, the Convent of Santa Catalina. The street itself is called Loreto or Intik'ijllu. No Utahs or Nebraskas here, but Squier is still very respectful: "One face of the walls, on the square called Pampa Maroni, is nearly perfect, except where it is pierced with modern doorways leading to the edifices that have been built over the ruins. This is perhaps the finest piece of ancient wall remaining in Cuzco...380 feet long and about 18 feet high. The courses of stones are symmetrical and accurate." (Squier, p.446)

The street itself is an Inca survival, straight and narrow as most were. Pizarro's secretary, Pedro Sancho, wrote that the streets were "crossing at right angles, very straight, all paved with stone and in the middle of each one runs a water channel lined with stone. Their defect is in being narrow, since only a single horseman can go on one side of the channel and another on the other side." (Quoted in Graziano Gasparini and Luise Margolies, Inca Architecture, p. 61; see Sancho's Account of the Conquest of Peru, 1534, chapter 17.)

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