Cusco Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
The crossroads of empires
Today, we're 11,000 feet above sea level in the city of Cusco, in the Peruvian Andes. Cusco is considered the historical capital of Peru, a designation that's even enshrined in the country's constitution. The city served as a capital for the Incan Empire in the three centuries before the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century.
The Spanish invaders attempted to destroy Cusco, but after failing to do so, changed course and began building instead. Cusco Cathedral, seen in the foreground of this photo, is among their longest-lasting accomplishments. Constructed in the city's busy main square called the Plaza de Armas, this Gothic-Renaissance-styled building took nearly 100 years to complete. The cathedral still holds a treasure trove of colonial art and archeological artifacts, and along with the city of Cusco itself, was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.