The old capital, which once flourished with an advanced civilization, remains quiet, hiding the noise and energy of busy people from the olden times. However, the prosperity of the past is still cherished along the alleyways, at the end of the eaves of castle walls, and at the corners of old stone walls. Cuzco, a city in Peru, was the capital of the old Incan Empire and was known as the ‘navel of the Earth’ since it is located on top of the Andes, rising 3,400 m above sea level. The Incan Empire was the most advanced and prosperous civilization in South America about 500 years ago. Yupanqui, the emperor of the Incan Empire around the 15th century, planned to redevelop Cuzco as the center of politics and religion. He built a strong fortress on a hill overlooking the entire city, and constructed stepped farms and irrigation to bring stability to people’s lives. What is amazing is that all of the structures in the city were built completely with stones without the use of any type of adhesive. Not only that, he built a network of road systems spanning over 30,000 km throughout the Incan Empire, along with water supply and sewer systems. It is amazing how wise he was to achieve such massive constructions in the rough, mountainous terrains The splendor of this civilization might have fallen in vain with the arrival of Spanish invaders, but its relics still remain to attract travelers, along with its beautiful natural environment. Also, Spanish monuments engraved on top of the Incan relics have piled up for 400 years with an unpleasant history, and have become a part of Cuzco’s unique personality.
Ping Yao was the ancient capital of the Han Dynasty in the 14th century, and the old castle is surrounded by walls. Walls that are as high as 12 meters span nearly 6,000 m, and there are endless arrays of tiled roofing inside. More than 4,000 houses from the Ming and Qing Dynasties are still preserved in Ping Yao to represent how cities were built during the Han Dynasty, and the city is one of the three greatest old castles in China. The Shuanglin Temple, which was built in the 6th century, preserves more than 2,000 colored clay statues that were created in the 12th~19th centuries, and their elaborate appearances and faded colors tell us about the power of time. As the center of trade and finance, Ping Yao built private mansions in massive sizes, and they are still almost perfectly preserved today. The streets that form square blocks tell us how well the city was planned. At Shiru, the highest landmark at the heart of the city, you can observe the castle from the inside at a glance. The cool breeze coming from every direction and the open view will allow you to imagine its glorious days.