The Inca Prince in the Cusco Cathedral

The cathedral in Cusco in properly called the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin.  It is on the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, in Southern Peru.

Cusco Cathedral

The Cusco Cathedral is built on the foundation of an Inca palace, Viracocha.  Spanish Catholics began work on the cathedral in 1559, but didn’t complete it for nearly 100 years.

There is a legend that, when they were building the Cusco Cathedral, the Spanish bricked an Inca prince alive into one of the towers.  He lives still, trapped within the masonry, waiting for the tower to fall to ruin.  When it does, he will emerge, liberate his people, and reunite the Inca lands under his rule.

In 1950, Cusco experienced an earthquake.  Thousands of locals are said to have crowded into the Plaza de Armas to watch the tower fall and the prince’s return.  The tower sustained damage, but is still standing.

I find that my thoughts keep returning to that Inca prince, locked in with only his faith that the Spanish empire would not outlast the cathedral masonry.  With his faith that his people’s memory was more enduring than stone.  Peru is no longer under Spanish rule, but it little resembles the world he remembers.  I wonder whether he missed his chance.  I wonder whether he knows it, whether he was trapped, helpless, behind stonework that held him while the world moved on.  Did he watch?  Did he see the Spanish recede, and was he relieved until he realized that they left a language and a religion behind them?  Is he waiting for those artifacts to recede as well?  Is he still waiting at all?  I wonder what he’s waiting for.


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