Nestling in the South American Andes, the Peruvian city of Cusco is one of the most emblematic metropolises of the continent. An impressive example of pre-Columbian urbanism, the capital of the former Inca empire developed into one of the most representative cities of the Spanish colonial realm—today a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and, since the 1920s, into the “tourist capital” of Peru. This article traces the development of the mountain city of Cusco and shows how a location in a specific natural and cultural space translates over time into urban and periurban dynamics dominated by touristification processes. A constitutive element of Andean intermediate cities, “the rural” and the elements related to its semantic space, play a crucial role in spatial reconfiguration processes that produce fragmented leisure landscapes of both the exclusive and the excluded. Local and regional real-estate developers profit from tourism-driven geographical imaginings of Cusco as an Andean city, and from the global urbanization of capital, by developing gated condominiums for a clientele in search of exclusivity, safety, and authentic and aesthetic mountain landscapes. Paradoxically, it is exactly this demand that increasingly destroys the very basis of Cusco's economy and challenges policy makers to overcome a set of dichotomies.
Cusco: Profile of an Andean city / Branca, Domenico; Haller, Andreas. - In: CITIES. - ISSN 0264-2751. - 113:(2021), pp. 1-15. [10.1016/j.cities.2021.103169]