The history of the Inca culture is fascinating but actually quite short-lived. Depending on the source, the Inca people existed as a pastoral people in the 13th century but didn't really start to build their empire until 1438 AD and then the end was accomplished with and the Spanish conquest in 1533 AD. But in that short time the Inca people were able to establish an empire that extended into southern Columbia, Peru, Ecuador, northern Chile, and Bolivia. The complexity of their culture is evident by the astronomical orientation of their buildings, high level of agricultural experimentation, ceramic beauty, and architectural advancement, well past that possessed by the Spanish conquerers. The question that seems obvious is how did the Spaniard Pizarro with only 300 soldiers conquer a people that numbered over 28 million? If you subscribe to the theories of Jared Diamond in the book “Germs, Guns, and Steel” it was the combination of military prowess of the Spanish (Guns and Steel) and the preceding weakening of the Incas with European germs (small pox, measles, and influenza) that provided for this conquest. It is beyond our judgement to determine the justification of the Spanish conquest of the Inca but ironic to observe the Spanish theft of Inca gold/silver from Inca temples to reinstall in Christian churches in both South America and Spain (e.g. beautiful cathedrals in Seville and Granada). When the Spanish entered Cusco they were greeted by the sight of Inca temples literally covered with sheaths of gold and silver (70 tons of gold from the Cusco Temple of the Sun), that of course were quickly plundered and defaced to eliminate this pagan religion. Interestingly, the Inca believed in a trinity of beings that provided religious guidance including the puma, serpent, and the condor. The Spanish tried their best to crush this religion of the Inca and convert all natives to Christianity, regardless of the cost. Today there appears to be a compromise with many Peruvians subscribing to the Catholic faith but yet still incorporating many aspects of the Inca religious beliefs. Probably not unlike what occurred in Europe with the Christian adoption of pagan rituals such as winter solstice celebrations (Christmas?), Christmas trees and greenery, spring fertility rites (Easter?), and numerous Saint based celebrations. One final note - the Inca people established their empire by defeating the Killke people and used the Killke temple foundations to erect new more elaborate temples to Inca gods, similar to what happened after the Spanish conquest as Christian churches were erected on the foundations of Inca temples. Seems like “what goes around comes around”. Today there are still very fine Christian churches in Cusco and surrounding areas, but there are numerous Inca-like traditional overtones like native dressed statues of the Virgin and assorted saints, and also the presence of symbolic Inca ceramic bulls (“Torito de Pucara”) on church walls or roofs.