Sovereign reigning over the nobility and the people who venerated him as a direct descendant of the Sun (INTI) and of Wiracocha, the creator god, the Inca exercised absolute power. Only high court officials could speak to him. Besides his legitimate wife, La Colla, he had an infinite number of favorites.

The Inca Empire

The empire was formed, at its height, of a mosaic of more or less submissive Inca tribes established in the Quechua region. On the banks of Lake Titicaca. The Incas did not annihilate the vanquished peoples, nor their culture, quite the contrary. They integrated them into their empire, imposed Quechua as an official language and transferred the fis of their kings to Cusco. The pyramid-type social organization had it, at its apex, the emperor, or Inca and the empress or Coya, who was also his sister. The society was based on the ayllu, group of families united by bonds of kinship or alliance, having a territory and directed by a chief, the curaca, generally a descendant of the founder. Most of the small kingdoms kept their identity even if they were politically and economically linked to the Incas. Quechua is the official language spoken in most communities until the arrival of the Spanish,

Inca architecture

The Incas developed a highly functional style of public architecture that was remarkable for its advanced engineering and fine stone work. The city plan was based on a system of large avenues crossed by small streets that converge on an open square surrounded by municipal buildings and temples. The structure was on one level, with a perfect assembly of cut stones, also used mud bricks and straw in the coastal regions. For the construction of large monuments such as the great fortress of Sacsayhuaman near Cuzco, huge polygonal blocks were assembled with extraordinary precision. In mountainous regions, such as the spectacular Andean city located in Machu Picchu, Inca architecture often reflects ingenious adaptations of natural relief.

Inca religion

The state religion was based on the worship of the Sun Inca emperors who were considered descendants of the Sun God and were worshiped as gods. However, symbol of the Sun god, was exploited for the use of the leaders and members of the elite, and not as currency, but for decoration, clothing and rituals. Religion dominated the entire political structure.

From the Temple of the Sun in the center of Cuzco, one could draw imaginary lines towards the places of worship of the different social classes of the city. Religious practices investigated oracles, sacrifices as offerings, religious trances and public confessions. The annual cycle of religious festivals was regulated by the extremely precise Inca calendar and the agricultural year. Because of these and other aspects, the Inca culture was much more like some cultures of Mesoamerica than the Aztecs and Mayans.


This Quechua word, which means “the four directions”, defines the Inca empire, divided into four administrative regions, or suyos, whose center was Cusco, the sacred city. Chinchaysuyo included the North and the center of the Andes; Contisuyo, the west, from Cusco or Pascifique; Collasuyo, the south and the altiplano (Bolivia, northern Argentina and Chile); and Antisuyo, the North and the Southeast to the Amazon.


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