Essential Cusco Information for visitors from all over the world.
Cusco Information.- Cusco or Qosqo, is a city in southeastern Peru near the Urubamba Valley and Vilcanota mountain range. It is the capital of the Region of Cusco as well as the Province of Cusco. In 2007, the city had a population of 358,935 which was triple the figure of 20 years ago. It is located at 3,400 meters above sea level. Cusco was declared a World Heritage site in 1983 by UNESCO; it is a major tourist destination.
Cusco or Qosco means «female navel» and the origins get lost in the night of times. Archaeological excavations made us know that primitive residents inhabited the Valley of Cusco they were: Alqhawisas, Antasayas, Sawasiras, Qotacalles, Killkes and Lucres. By the XII century, Manco Cápac and his sister – wife Mama Ocllo emerged from the waters of the Lake Titicaca, semi Gods daughter and son of Inti (the god Sun), with the mission of the foundation of a new Kingdom that would improve the conditions of life of the towns.
Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo would have to walk carrying a rod of gold until finding a place in the earth where the great gold scepter that Manco Cápac had would submerge, they walked to the north and they arrived to Pacárec Tampu (Pacaritambo) where rested in a small cave; to the dawn they continued to the north arriving to the hill Huanacaure and there the scepter submerged, and there he founded the city of Cusco. Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo left in people’s search, and formed the Hanan Cusco. They taught them how to work the earth and how to sow; they made and used agricultural tools, artificial irrigation systems, to build and to live in towns.
Inhabitants of other districts arrived when got informed of the events, creating this way the Tahuantinsuyo, the great empire of the Incas, which limits, after 14 successors of real lineage, reached Colombia by the north, and northern Chile and Argentina by the south; as capital Cusco reached its maximum splendor.
Cusco is located in the middle of the Andes at 3,400 masl in the southern part of Peru; it is considered as a sacred city because it was the Capital of the Inca Empire, it was the government center of the four big administrative regions named Tahuantinsuyo. This fabulous empire extended to a great part of what today are Ecuador, Colombia, Perú, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile. The Inca Empire was a very well structured society. It stands out for having a great knowledge in architecture, hydraulic engineering, medicine and agriculture; the evidence we still can see in the streets of Cusco, the Temple of Sacsayhuaman, and Machu Picchu.
The population in the city of Cusco by the beginning of the XXI century is projected to be 300,000 inhabitants. The annual growth rate is approximately 4%. In 1821 after 3 centuries of Spanish colonial administration, this city had about 40,000 people. In the time of the Tawantinsuyo’s apogee it should had between 250 to 300 thousands of inhabitants.
The altitude of Cusco is 3,400 meters above sea level (11,150 feet). Some people not used to the high altitude to get problems as a consequence of the oxygen scarcity. Is necessary to be one day at least in city before to make trekking. The latitude is 13° 30′ 45″ it indicates that we should have a tropical or equatorial weather, but it is not like that. Sometimes Cusco is cooler because of its high altitude. The Longitude is 71° 58′ 33″. We are 5 hours later than the Greenwich Mean Time.
Cusco is relatively cool. The annual average in the city is between 10.3° to 11.3° Celsius (50.54° to 52.34° Fahrenheit). Over here, there is some uniformity in temperature between summer and winter. Normally it is somewhat cold at nighttime and during the first hours in the early morning while that at midday temperature increases considerably. During the early mornings in June and July, temperature frequently drops to 5° and 7°C below zero (23° and 19.4°F). There are just 2 well-defined seasons: a dry season and another rainy one. The dry season is from May to October and the rainy season from November to April.
Expected Weather in Cusco and on the Inca Trail
In Cusco, dry season starts in April to October, the days are usually sunny and hot but temperatures drop abruptly after 05-06:00 p.m until 07:00 a.m. Weather is very changeable from November to March and heavy rains are expected being the wettest month December to March although is not as cold as it is in the dry season.
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REGIONAL HISTORICAL MUSEUM
Located at “La Casa de Garcilaso” . Mon-Sat. 08:00-17:30. Collection of archaeological material and colonial paintings. (T.T.)
MUSEUM OF RELIGIOUS ART
Located in the corner of Hatunrumiyoc and Palacio. Mon-Sat. 08.00- 11:30 & 15.00-17.30. Contains many colonial paintings. The museum’s greatest treasure is a famous and fascinating series of twelve paintings depicting the Cor-pus Christi processions of 17th-century Cusco—but inexplicably and deplorably, the archbishopric has witheld these paintings from public view for more than four years at this writing. (T.T.)
SANTA CATALINA MUSEUM
Located in the street of Santa Catalina Angosta (1/2 block from Pl. de Armas). Mon-Thurs. &
Sat. 09.00-15.00. Fri.09.00-15.00. A collection of colonial—era paintings and artifacts. (T.T.)
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Located in the Municipal Town Hall, Plaza Regocijo. Daily 09:30-18:00 A permanent collection of work by contemporary Cusco artists, plus special exhibitions from time to time. Entrance free.
KORICANCHA ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
Located in the Av. El Sol opposite Santo Domingo church. Daily 09.30-1800. Some artifacts from excavations that were made when the adjacent park was being built. (T.T.)
BEST SELLER PACKAGE
These Tour Packages to Cusco & Machu Picchu are the most popular in Peru.
CUSCO TOUR 3D/2N
HIGHLIGHTS: Arrival to Cusco; explore the surrounds Inca sites like: Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Tambomachay, Qorikancha, and the Cathedral; Train to “Aguas Calientes”, Machu Picchu tour.
CUSCO CLASSIC TOUR 4D/3N
HIGHLIGHTS: Explore the city of Cusco, full-day tour to Sacred Valley of the Incas; take the train to the town of “Aguas Calientes”, enjoy Machu Picchu Tour; optional climb to Huayna Picchu Mountain.
CUSCO IMPERIAL TOUR 5D/4N
HIGHLIGHTS:Explore the city, full-day tour to Sacred Valley of the Incas; take the train to the town of “Aguas Calientes”, enjoy Machu Picchu tour; optional climb to Huayna Picchu Mountain; visit Maras-Moray wonderful Inca ruins.
CUSCO ARCHAEOLOGICAL TOUR 6D/5N
HIGHLIGHTS: Explore the city, full-day tour to Sacred Valley of the Incas; take the train to the town of “Aguas Calientes”, enjoy Machu Picchu tour; optional climb to Huayna Picchu Mountain; visit Maras-Moray and Pikillacta Pre-Inca and Inca ruins.
CUSCO MACHU PICCHU TOUR 5D/4N
HIGHLIGHTS: Explore the city, full-day tour to Sacred Valley of the Incas; take the train to the town of “Aguas Calientes”, enjoy Machu Picchu tour; optional climb to Huayna Picchu mountain.