Cusco – The City Of The Puma

According to local lore Cusco city is said to be laid out in the shape of a puma crouched over the Saphi river. And its streets denote its body parts. For example: Pumakurko street stands for the “Puma’s Spinal Column”, and the head is supposed to be located in Sacsayhuaman or “speckled head”!

Furthering that myth, (rather shiny) brass plaques embedded on the pavements indicate one’s location and orientation in reference to the Puma.

Puma sign

Standing in the Plaza de Armas we were at the belly of the Puma, and the arrows pointed ‘Chincaysuyo‘ (Northwest), ‘Qollasuyo‘ (Southeast), ‘Kuntisuyo‘ (southwest) and ‘Antisuyo‘ (Northeast)!

For the directionally challenged, the ruins of Sacsayhuaman would be ‘Chincaysuyo‘ of the plaza:)

Until next time……..happy travels, no matter where life takes you!

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

48 thoughts on “Cusco – The City Of The Puma

  1. One of the most interesting signs I have ever seen :). I love the banner of Cusco too!

    1. The banner is the Korikancha Sun Temple in Cusco. Just noticed your new B&W Gravatar! Cool 🙂

      1. Ah that one was here before ;). Thank you Madhu. I don’t think this B&W thing is permanent on my blog, but it has been fun. I have two more pics that you missed this weekend due to your backlog 😉 – but no rush 😀

  2. Thank you for the link to the humorous signs from Ireland. I loved yours as well.

    The only ones that come to mind for me was the Burma Shave signs that used to be posted along the road. It was always fun reading them when we were on long drives.

  3. Oh how much fun, Madhu, I would love to live in a city shaped like a Puma. Wonderfully informative post, thank you so much for sharing this 🙂

  4. Do you know how long it would take me to figure this out? My kids would spot the puma-shape right away and I’d still be walking in circles.

    1. Seems like we have a lot in common 🙂 But that Puma shape might be a bit of a stretch!

  5. Fantastic entry, Madhyu. I love the idea of the city fathers sitting around the council chambers one hot, sultry afternoon, going over artists’ renderings of their puma inspired direction motifs – such determination to keep the myth in people’s lives, adding another layer to the aeons old culture of this great city. 🙂

    1. Thanks TWLG. Countries dependent on tourism will go to great lengths to perpetuate their myths and legends! But I am a sucker for these legends so I guess it is a win win situation all round 🙂

  6. Madhu…What a unique and efficient way to give directions! (I’m always looking down anyway…so I don’t trip over my feet!) Thanks for giving the background information too! I love stories like this!

    1. Bit of a stretch really, you would spot it if you stared long enough 😀 Perhaps the Pre-Columbine city did resemble a Puma!

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