The myth states that in the beginning of the 13th century A.D. Manco Capac, the son of the Sun and the first Inca king, and his wife Mama Ocllo emerged from Lake Titicaca in Puno and walked towards Cusco. Their father, the Sun, told them to settle in the place where their golden staff disappeared after being pushed into the ground. When they arrived at the slope of Huanacaure Mountain in Cusco, they pushed the golden staff, and, when it sank into the ground, they knew they had to settle there. Thus began the Inca Empire, which lasted until 1534 A.D., when the Spaniard Francisco Pizarro founded the city of Cusco after defeating and assassinating Inca Atahualpa in Cajamarca (northern Peru).
Throughout this period of time the Incas developed the Tahuantisuyo (Four States) covering more than two million square kilometers, which included territories of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina. The Inca Empire reached its maximum extension during the reigns of Inca Pachacutec, Inca Tupac Yupanqui, and Inca Huayna Capac.
The Incas were able to control this vast territory because of the following reasons:
Cusco was the capital of the Empire and the most important city during the Inca Empire. All roads built by the Incas along the Tahuantinsuyo led to the city of Cusco, and many of these roads are still traveled by local Peruvians. These treks are all over Peru and hundreds of avid travelers trek across them every day with locals as guides or by themselves to enrich their experience in Peru.
Nowadays, the trek known as the Inca Trail is the most popular and better preserved portion of the Qhapaq Ñan or Andean Road System. In order to access the Inca Trail, it is necessary to obtain a permit (ticket) with the National Institute of Culture through an authorized Tour Operator. If permits are no longer available to enter the Inca Trail, Cusco has many other treks to offer such as the Salkantay or Lares Treks.