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Lecture Discusses Perú’s Hybrid History


By John Leupold

Perú, which has been described as the “molten core” of South America, is a fascinating mix of Inca and Spanish culture.

In colonial days, the Viceroyalty of Perú encompassed most of Spanish-ruled South America. The wealth that Spain derived from it was monumental, and centuries of exploitation eventually led to independence and the creation of today’s nation, which still contains

modern and ancient examples of both its colonizing and colonized cultures.

The Inca civilization was the most advanced in the New World when it encountered the Spanish, the most advanced in the Old World. The resulting hybrid of old and new, indigenous and European, can be experienced in its people, food, music, art, and architecture. The Incas built astonishing structures centuries ago, rivaling or exceeding those of Renaissance Europe. Many of them are still in near-pristine shape today. The Spanish conquerors built many splendid buildings in the colonial style of the period and constructed many others utilizing the stones of destroyed Inca structures, or built their own structures on top of Inca foundations, creating a look that is uniquely Perúvian.

Our presentation will first visit Cuzco and Machu Picchu and the area between these two sites, known as the Sacred Valley. We will then travel onward to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, home to the Uro ethnic group. Since Incan times, the Uro have constructed floating islands on the lake on which they build their homes. Not far from Lake Titicaca one finds the pre-Inca funerary towers of Sillustani, said by some to rival Machu Picchu in architectural aesthetics and complexity. Mysterious and enigmatic, these appear as sentinels looming high above Lake Umayo on the bleak altiplano. We will see the Amazon basin rainforest—one of the most biodiverse places on the planet—with its fascinating plant and animal life. We’ll discuss the environmental and cultural issues facing this beautiful and imperiled part of Perú. We will also focus on the seldom-visited fortress of Kuelap in northeastern Perú, once the capital of the Chachapoyas people, said to rival Machu Picchu.

San Miguel de Allende resident John Leupold travels regularly to Perú, leading cultural tours with Champaca Journeys, the travel business he founded. Leupold finds Perú and its people endlessly fascinating and enjoys sharing his insights into this remarkable country.



Armchair Travel Lecture: Perú

Fri, Jun 21, 3pm

Sala Quetzal

La Biblioteca, Reloj 50A




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