The origins of Cusco are lost in the night of time. Archaelogical digs let us know that Cusco's Valley (except the bottom then a swamp) was already habited nearly three thousand years ago, there is documented information of the cultures Chanapata and Marcavalle, its constructions served as foundations of Inca temples like the Q'orycancha or Temple of the Sun. There are many legends about the origin of the Tawantinsuyo, one of them says that in the XIIth Century, emerged from the waters of Titicaca lake, Manco Cápac and his sister and wife Mama Ocllo, goddists and children of father Inti (the sun), with the mision of founding a new kingdom which improved the life condition of the people.
Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo had to walk until they found a place on earth where the golden sceptre they carried sank into the land, they walked towards the north and they got to Pacárec Tampu (Pacaritambo) where they rested in a little cave, at dawn they continued towards the north and got to the Huanacaure mountain where the spectre finally sank and the city of Cusco was founded (quechua word for: the navel of the world).
The real story is that the cultures of the high plains like Wari and Tiahuanaco had a great influence in the Inca culture, the first settlers founded the Hanan Cusco with highly ellaborated agricultural and architectural technologies. Habitants from nearby lands hearing the news joined and the Tahuantinsuyo began, the great Empire of the Incas whose borders, after the reign of 14 kings, got as far as to Colombia to the North, northern Chile and Argentina to the South, and its capital Cusco reached its greatest splendour.
From the first Incas it is known little more than their names and legends and they are known as the Mythical Incas, there is more information starting with the Inca Pachacútec (the one who removes the earth) (1448-1471), the great conqueror, who besides that, transformed Cusco, reconstructing it, most of the archaelogical monuments we know in the present days were built by him. His son Tupac Yupanqui was another great conqueror, his grandson Waynacapac gave the empire splendour, and his great grandsons Huáscar and Atahuallpa, got into internal struggle for power until the spanish came and occupied the city in 1533, with the help of the people dominated by the Incas in recent years, who saw the spanish as their liberators, but later on they were also submitted to the spanish crown.
Those times Cusco was a city of outstanding architecture in stone with wide open squares, great temples and palaces profusively decorated with gold. Many of these marvelous buildings have remained for eternity.
The spanish Cusco has as base the foundations of the Inca walls and the outline of its streets, numerous buildings were constructed, churches, and it was found the famed school of arts (XVII and XVIII Centuries), represented by many paintings and sculptures (paintings of the Cusquenian School, the San Blas pulpit, the custodies of the Cathedral and the Temple of La Merced, etc.). The andean and spanish melting pot, has determined the special characterystics of its architecture and population, city of unmatched beauty in the world, which proudly preserves its customs and traditions, and also progressively incorporates into modernity. To all this we have to add the privileged geographical context, with beautiful scenery, in which it has developed. Cusco is the most visited touristic destiny in Perú, and the richness of the city and its surroundings like the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu, make it one of the main tourist attractions in the world, with an excellent quality of tourist services.