Explore Cusco tourist places and learn about the past and present life of its inhabitants.
Cusco was the main capital of the Incas from XII to XVII century; the Incas conceived their city in the shape of a Puma, which was a very important totem for the Incas. In Cusco, there are many important tourist places, so it really is essential that you take the time and not try to rush to your vacation; some of the tourist places in Cusco are: The mysterious city of Cusco with cobblestone streets, Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, The Qorikancha, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, etc. There certainly are many sights that you cannot miss.
«Plaza de Armas» of Cusco (The Main Square)
The Square was originaly more than twice its present size; it was divided in two parts by the river Saphy (which became the Watanay River) which now flows beneath the buildings on the west side of the square. In the time of the Incas, it was called “Huacaypata” Quechua word meaning place of weeping or meeting. It was an important ceremonial site where every year the Inti Raymi or the “Fiesta del Sol” is celebrated in the presence of thousands of person, it was the place where Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cusco. With the arrival of the Spaniards, the square changed, stone arches were built and buildings that surround it today were erected.
The Cathedral of Cusco
The Cathedral is placed in the eastern side of the main square, its built on the site of Quiswarkancha a wonderful temple of the Main Inca god (Wiraccocha); The construction of the cathedral was begun in 1550 and not completed until nearly 100 years later. The cathedral contains nearly 400 colonial paintings, including many from the Cusco school, which was prominent in the XVII century. In one of the towers lives Maria Angola, a huge bell cast in 1659 whose deep knell is said to be audible 40 km away. This bell, the largest in South America, is supposedly named for a black woman who tossed 25 pounds of gold into the crucible, thus ensuring success after two previous castings had failed. The Cathedral has in both sides two wonderful churches. The church of “el Triunfo” and the church of the holly family. The Renaissance style dominates the facade and interior, with an interior rich in carvings in cedar and alder. The choir and pulpit excel in beauty. It host an important collection silver objects.
«Barrio de San Blas»
San Blas is a very picturesque place of the city of Cusco which in the time of the Incas was considered an important “WACA” alled “T’oqokachi or Salt Hole” , is characterized by steep, narrow streets, and its beautiful colonial style houses. It is known as the Artisans Quarter. San Blas has a wonderful church in 1562, this is a small adobe building unremarkable except for its extraordinary carved pulpit. This pulpit dating from late XVII century, is unsurpassed in the Americas, and is sometimes claimed to be the finest piece of wood-carving in the world.
Church and «Convent of Santo Domingo»/Qorikancha
The Temple of “Santo Domingo» was built upon the remains of the fable Qorikancha, the court of gold; it was the most important Inca Temple. The Qoricancha, according to the chroniclers, was one of the most impressive buildings of Inca Cusco looked inside entire walls covered with gold leaf, it was the Main Temple of the Sun god. In 1534, the Spaniards built on top of the original construction, the church and Dominican convent, which collapsed in the earthquake of 1650 and was rebuilt around 1681. The convent has an art gallery of valuable paintings from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Today this building is an example of the fusion between Western and indigenous culture.
Machu Picchu is located at 112 km northeast of the city of Cusco at 2,400 masl; This ancient city built of stone was the capital of the ancient Inca Empire and was rediscovered by American Hiram Brigham in 1911. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site and was also considered one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. This set contains the mysteries past and strategies of the first Peruvian organization for the work of agriculture, and for religious concentration to worship the Sun God.
The Sacred Valley of The Incas
The Sacred Valley of theIncas is located in the Peruvian Andes at north of the city of Cusco. Urubamba Valley, also known as the Sacred Valley or Cusco Sacred Valley. It is a fertile area, once inhabited by the Incas. Inca ruins are prevalent throughout the Valley, with the two largest sites of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The Sacred Valley today is home to a number of typical Andean villages. This is a good place to see the villagers daily life in the Andes. The Sacred Valley is large, and highlights are Pisac Market and Pisac ruins, the Inca sites of Moray and Salinas, and the beautiful city and the ruins of Ollantaytambo.
Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex
A 2 km northeast of the city of Cusco, the complex includes 33 archaeological sites, of which the best known is the Sacsayhuaman fortress. This would have been really a religious structure, but because of its location and style was considered by the Spanish chroniclers a military construction. It might have hosted the most important temple in Hanan Qosqo or Upper Cusco, dedicated to Andean cosmology and to the worship of «Inti» (Sun), «Quilla» (moon), «Chaska» (stars), «Illapa» (Ray) and other deities. It is described as massive for the size of its stones, some of which weigh between 90 and 128 tons. Every June 24 is the scene of the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun.
Ollantaytambo is located at the eastern end of the Sacred Valley. The valley is more narrow here than in Urubamba and Pisac, with the nearest mountains on each side, to make it more dramatic. Located at the foot of an ancient archaeological site, the small town of Ollantaytambo, 2,000 meters over the sea, is the most beautiful city in the Sacred Valley. The city is located above the main road, and built on uneven ground. The stone stairs are beautifully framed by stone arches.
Ollantaytambo is one of only two places in the Sacred Valley to take the train to «Aguas Calientes» at the foot of Machu Picchu. While most people take the train from Cusco to «Aguas Calientes» directly, the trip from Ollantaytambo is shorter and less expensive.
This construction is known as the «Baths of the Incas», but some argue that in fact it was a temple of worship to water. This archaeological site is located about 8 km north of the city of Cusco in Peru’s southern highlands. The beautiful fountains and rural atmosphere in this attractive tourist, make it one of the most visited places in the area.
Small town along the River of Urubamba, which by tradition has a fair on Sundays, where goods are exchanged between the different villages of the area. Furthermore, due to the large influx of tourists they can also buy handicrafts and other non-agricultural items. Many people visit Pisac on Sunday, but there are smaller markets on Tuesday and Thursday. The ruins of Pisac, was part of the route which connected the Inca Empire with Paucartambo, on the border of the eastern jungles.
Literally translated as “zig-zag”, Q’enqo is the name given to these fascinating ruins, located just 4 km / 2.5 miles northeast of Cusco. It is widely believed that the archaeological site of Q’enqo was used for religious ceremonies, as the limestone monolith is carved with symbolic zigzags, possibly used for ritual sacrifices. On top, there are recorded images of several animals like llama and puma, while below, a large semi-circular amphitheater remains in good condition, along with stairs and tunnels.
Featured Tours & Trips in Cusco & Machu Picchu
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.