The capital of the Inca Empire was discovered by the Spanish in 1533 , the Incas believed that the navel is the center of all life and Cusco was for them the navel. Cusco retain some influence over a few decades. Until the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911 , this wonder today has become the tourist capital , the starting of all trips to the Sacred Valley and gateway to the Amazon ( Manu National Reserve ) . The history of the imperial city , according to legend , dates back to the eleventh or twelfth century , when the first Inca , Manco Capac , founded Cusco in compliance with a mandate from God Sun The March 23, 1534 , Francisco Pizarro , performs the Spanish founding of Cusco. Currently, Cusco , the archaeological capital of America, is a cosmopolitan city that welcomes you with open arms to visitors, who watch in awe the strange look , merging in the same urban environment and with particular harmony , pre-Columbian monuments as the Koricancha (Temple of the Sun), the Ajlla Wasi , the Amaru Cancha ( Snake ), the Kiswar Kancha , among others, with jewels of miscegenation as the Cathedral, the Church and Convent of La Merced and the Temple of San Blas . Cusco is surrounded by impressive archaeological remains such as the citadel of Machu Picchu , the fortress of Sacsayhuaman , the Ollantaytambo compound and picturesque towns like Pisac and Calca .