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General and City Planning

Peru Viajes

Edition 2015
The Tawantinsuyo
The Inka
Inkan Religion
General and City Planning
Materials and Lithic Tech
Inkan Architecture
Coca Leaves
Andean Camelids
Andean Condor
Inkan City of Qosqo
Present-day Festivities
The Cathedral
Saint Blaise Church
Convent of Our Lady of Mercy
La Compania de Jesus Church
Saint Francis Convent
Monastery of Saint Catherine
Maras, Moray, Pichingoto
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Home >> Peru Cities >> Cusco Travel Information >> General and City Planning



Quechua planners used resources and knowledge of ancestral cultures. That way they could improve the use of their geography in order to establish a system of human settlements, to create a road network and to improve communications, lodging and supplying substructures (a broad and complete study about this subject was done by Santiago Agurto from which some of this information was taken). It is obvious that Inkan City Planning depended on some elementary aspects, among which we can mention their deep pantheist religion that considered in a very special way their environment: the Pachamama (Mother Earth), the Apus and Aukis ( Mountains' and Valleys' Spirits), the Wakas (Temples) framed in Ceques (imaginary lines with Waka successions). City Planning was also consequence of their broad pragmatism and the economic sense that an urban center represented. The Inkas, being a farming society had to reserve the best lands for their main activity without wasting them for temples or villages that were built in rustic terrains. Even inside the towns, the streets were always narrow to take a maximum advantage of the land. City Planning was also determined by some other order and authority elements, with their aforementioned principles of Bi, Tri and Fourth partition, Symmetry, Opposition, Repetition and Subordination. Two parts are found in the urban design of Inkan Qosqo City, Hanan Qosqo and Urin Qosqo (upper and lower Qosqo); four sectors corresponding to the four nations of the Tawantinsuyo; twelve neighborhoods resulting from dividing each sector in three; and the subdivision of each neighborhood in three sub-ones, Collana, Payan and Cayao. Hanan was more important than Urin; while that Chinchaysuyo opposed Collasuyo and Contisuyo to Antisuyo. City Planning had an integrating position too, thus it normally tried to be integrated with nature. That is the reason why the Inkan Society is classified as eminently ecologist. Commonly, inside an urban core its central part was occupied by temples and palaces, while that the peripheries by settlements in a decreasing way considering their importance.

The road network in pre-Hispanic Peru was really impressive for its age. It caused wonder among the first Europeans who visited the Tawantinsuyo and did not hesitate comparing it with that developed by Romans that were the only ones having something of such magnitude in the Old World. The road network had to allow a fast intercommunication between Qosqo and the entire Tawantinsuyo and vice versa. It was intended to get territorial integration, after giving security, relax and supplies for travelers, official suites or the army. It was supposed to allow an efficient production, gathering and redistribution of goods and raise tributary resources. Roads and paths had different categories, functions and characteristics according to their duties and the territory where they were located. In the coast they were just dusty ones but on a level higher than natural soil. Crossing the deserts there were pegs and even ropes to make their limits. In rainy and humid regions they were totally paved with cobbles or flagstones. All roads were always planned to give comfort to walking travelers. There was a road hierarchy with two important categories: the first category formed by the Inkañan (Inka Road) or royal roads that were, for example, the ones that united Qosqo and the four "Suyos", roads known as Qhapaq Ñan: principal or rich road. In this same category were the Hatun Ñan: big or broad road; they constituted the primary road network that had between 10 to 25 thousand Kms. (6200 to 15500 miles), with a width from 4 to 8 meters (13 to 26 ft). The second category was formed by the Runañan (peoples' road) or roads for common people; they served for communications between villages and districts. The road system went over the Tawantinsuyo longitudinal and transversely; all together it reached some 40,000 Kms. (some 25000 miles). This system was constantly supervised by officials following different hierarchies as the Qhapaq Ñan Tukuyrikuq, the Hatun Ñan Qamayoq or simply the Ñan Qamayoq.

Something very impressive were also the Bridges (Chaka) under the charge of the Chaka Qamayoq. Bridges that had to serve crossing rivers and had to be adapted to the site's topography, distance and materials availability. According to their construction procedure bridges can be grouped in:

a.- Trunks and Logs Bridges. They were a favorite type when bridges were small;

b.- Stone Bridges. Formed by slabs and they existed of two sorts: those of just one window, and those that presented many windows or spaces to let water flow;

c.- Huaros, Uruyas or Oroyas, Tarabitas (in Ecuador). They were something like cable cars consisting in a very thick hemp rope woven in "chawar" fibers. The hemp rope was tied to thick trees or boulders, by which an osier basket having a thick wooden handle and transporting persons and goods was slid with the help of some other ropes;

d.- Suspension Bridges. Constructed with thick hemp ropes and cords braided with "Ichu" the local wild bunch grass or fibers of "Pakpa" or Century Plants (Agave americana). Sometimes they were reinforced with leathers of South-American cameloids and tied to stone supports in both banks of the river forming a narrow but strong passage. The bridges of this type were known as " Simp'achaka" or "braided bridge". Today, the most eloquent example of this sort of bridge is that found in Qheswachaka over the Apurimac River.

e.- Floating Bridges. Used to cross calm or detained waters and made with different vegetal fibers. It is famous the bridge of this sort that existed in Inkan times over the Desaguadero River (Titicaca Lake) made with braided totora reeds that seemed to be a platform over which a large amount of reeds were sewn to the hemp ropes.

A complete system of different services was found over the vast Inkan road network. It was planned in order to allow integration, safety, supplies and relaxation. A part of this system were the Chaski, something like a post crew formed by athletic young relay runners prepared to cover quickly the distance between two Chaskiwasi (chaski's house) that had an average of 2.5 Kms. (1.55 miles). Their aim was to carry messages that could be oral or goods with ideo-graphic meanings such as the Qhipu (Inkan accounting system consisting in multicolored knotted strings), textiles with Tokapus (different symbols framed by squares), some other elements engraved or painted, etc. Moreover, the Chaskis had to carry some other important objects for the Inka and certain noblemen: it is traditionally known that the Inka in Qosqo used to eat fresh fish brought from the coast through this system. This service was uninterrupted all day long, besides being sufficiently quick. These young runners transmitting or passing messages could go over from 15 to 20 kms/hour (from 9.5 to 12.5 miles/h), thence from 360 to 480 Kms. per day (from 224 to 298 miles per day).

Another element found on the roads involving services were the Tanpu or Tambo in its Spanish form. They were important villages, economic axles having huge lodges with capacity to serve opportune and efficiently even dozens of thousands of people, with enormous storehouses containing, food, clothing, weapons and tools. They had an economic and social rule, and public officials under direct control of Qosqo. They possessed all the facilities that were found in the cities too, such as communication posts, temples, astral observatories, etc., and occupied strategic spots in order to offer timely comfort for the traveling masses. They were normally located between distances of one walking day, that is, between 40 to 50 kms. (25 to 31 miles). It is obvious that there were different Tambo categories; the less important ones offering only lodge were found every half walking day, between 20 to 25 kms. (12.5 to 15.5 miles). Departing from Qosqo through the 7 most important roads (after a half walking day) following the sense of the clock hands were (clockwise and beginning on the north) P'isaq, Quispikanchi or Pikillaqta, Yaurisque, Wanoquite, Jakijawana or Zurite, Chinchero and Calca; after one walking day following the same direction were more important Tambos such as Paucartambo, Urkostambo, Pakariqtambo, Tambobamba, Limatambo, Ollantaytambo and Amparaes.



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