In Cusco there are a lot of tourist attractions, so it really is essential that you take the time and not try to rush your vacation. With attractions such as Machu Picchu
and the Sacred Valley beautiful in the door of Cusco, there certainly are many sights that you can not miss.
Tourist Places in Cusco
1. Plaza de Armas of Cusco
In Inca times was called “Huacaypata” Quechua word meaning place of weeping or meeting. It was an important ceremonial site where every year the Inti Raymi or Fiesta del Sol is celebrated, it was the place where Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cusco. With the arrival of the Spanish, the plaza changed, stone arches were built and buildings that surround it today were erected.
Tel: +51 084 22 1361
Open: daily – 24 hours
The two other major public squares in the center of Cusco are:
- Plaza de Regocijo – actually once part of the now small square, the Plaza de Regocijo is west, where it has become a nice park and worth seeing if you’re close.
- Plaza de San Francisco – the southernmost of all places, next to the Church of Santo Domingo and near a number of hotels.
2. The Cathedral of Cusco
Building went through two stages: first the Capilla del Triunfa was built over the ancient temple of Sunturwasi (House of God), then the cathedral was built over the palace of Inca Viracocha. 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 and paintings from the Cusco School (Escuela Cusqueña) .
3. Templo de la Compañía de Jesus (Jesuit Temple)
The original temple was built in 1571 on the grounds of the former Amarucancha, palace of Huayna Capac. After the earthquake of 1650, it was rebuilt in 1688. The design and the façade are examples of Andean Baroque. The cover, type “altarpiece”, is decorated with mid-rise towers and stone walls are carefully worked. Inside the visitors appreciates the main altar of three bodies and twisted columns, the wooden pulpit and numerous Baroque, Plateresque and Churrigueresque styles. Among the works of art it is important to name the one called “Marriage of Martin Garcia de Loyola with Beatriz Clara Coya”.
4. Barrio de San Blas
It is one of the most picturesque of Cusco. Called “T’oqokachi or Salt Hole” (hueco de sal), is characterized by steep, narrow streets, and its beautiful colonial style houses. It is known as the Artisans Quarter. San Blas has many families that accommodate guests in their homes.
Open: daily – 24 hours
5. Temple of San Blas
Founded in 1560 during the colonial period, retains a Baroque pulpit is a masterpiece of work and woodcarving, attributed to indigenous artist Diego Quispe Tito.
6. Church and Convent of La Merced
The church, baroque style, was built between 1657 and 1680. The sacristy holds its greatest treasure, an impressive custody in gold and precious stones of 1.3 m in height and 22 kg in weight, crowned by a large mermaid shaped pearl, considered the second largest in the world.
7. Church and Convent of Santo Domingo / Koricancha
The Koricancha, 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 Spanish 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.
Address: Plaza de Santo Domingo, Cusco, Peru, PE
Hours: Monday to Saturday – 8:00 to 17:00, Friday – 14:00 to 17:00
Admission: free, discounts for students and children
8. Church and Convent of Santa Catalina
They were built in 1605 on top of the Acllahuasi or “House of the Chosen” (acllas were women dedicated to special tasks for the Inca). The architecture is part of the late Renaissance and is characterized by its Roman arches. Inside you can still see traces of the original construction. It has a showroom of wall paintings, metal works, textiles, sculptures and altarpieces.
9. Museum of Santa Catalina
Exhibitions of paintings, textiles, wood carvings and colonial retablos. The best among them are the paintings of Diego Quispe Tito and carpet gallery arcades, and religious ornaments with gold and silver threads.
10. Archbishop’s Palace and Stone of Twelve Angles
The building is a colonial construction with Arab influence, which was built upon the foundations of the palace of Inca Roca. It now houses the Museum of Religious Art. On the street Hatunrumiyoc can see an old Inca wall that was part of the palace of Inca Roca and that is an admirable work on polishing Inca and placed stones. In this structure stands the “Stone of Twelve Angles”, famous for the perfect work and assembling of its angles.
11. Qosqo Native Art Center (Centro de Arte Nativo)
The Native Art Center Qosqo worth seeking out and established as far back as the 1920s, so one of the oldest of all the attractions of the city folk. This intimate theater audiences can accommodate around 300 people in its auditorium and has regular dance performances which last about an hour and is introduced in English and Spanish. The site museum is full of traditional costumes of the provinces of the city.
Address: Avenida El Sol 604, Cusco, Peru, PE
Tel: +51 084 22 7901
Open: daily – 18:30 to 21:00
12. Palacio del Almirante
Old house, now home of the Inca Museum. It contains an important archaeological collection includes ceramics, metalwork, textiles and mummies.
13. House of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega
Born April 12, 1539, the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega was the son of the Spanish Captain Garcilaso de la Vega y Vargas and the Princess Chimpu Ocllo Cusco. He was the author of two books: “Royal Commentaries” and “La Florida”, both motivated by the need to rescue the history of the Inca empire. The house is now headquarters of the Regional Historical Museum, which houses a collection of paintings from the Cusco School.
14. Pre-Columbian Art Museum
The mansion that houses the museum was “Kancha Inca” in 1450, home of the conqueror Alonso Díaz in 1580, the thouse of Conde Cabrera in 1850 and was completely restored to become the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art in June 2003. Hosts, in its 11 rooms, 450 works of art dating from 1250 BC to 1532 AD, which were selected from a universe of 45 000 objects from the collection of the Archaeological Museum Larco in Lima.
Sightseeing in Cusco surroundings
1. Machu Picchu
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
2. The Sacred Valley
The Urubamba Valley, also known as the Sacred Valley or Cusco Sacred Valley, is located north of Cusco. 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.
3. 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
It is 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 Inca, 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 Cuzco 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 Urubamba River, 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.
7. Q’enqo / Quenko
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.
Adventure Tourism attractions in Cusco
Although a large number of tourists visiting Cusco to explore the spectacular Inca ruins and learn more about ancient civilizations, others come to enjoy the wide range of outdoor attractions and recreational activities. Some of the best activities and exciting adventures offered in Cusco are:
Hiking / Trekking – although for many the Inca Trail is the epitome of routes, a number of new routes in the region surrounding Machu Picchu as Ausangate, Huancacalle and Vilcabamba, and around the Sacred Valley.
- Canoeing / Rafting – something for the more adventurous, rafting on the Urubamba River is relatively quiet and usually takes about half a day, passing through some spectacular Inca ruins along the way.
- Mountain Biking – there are endless opportunities for mountain biking is available for all levels, are usually around Calca, Lares and Moray, in particular, and beside the River Apurimac and Tambopata.
Bird Watching – are exceptional bird watching opportunities between Ollantaytambo and Quillabamba.
- Kayak – generally following the same routes that boating.There are several outfitters around Cusco who rent kayaks per day.
- Cavalcade – an increasingly popular way to enjoy this region, you can use friendly Peruvian Paso horses. There are more and more stables around Cusco.
- Mountaineering – an adventure sport for only the fittest.Compan’ias Many local guides offer their services and equipment rental.
- Skiing -, no official ski tracks in Cusco, but experienced skiers up wings summit of the Andes to enjoy adrealina generating a ski race in these mountains.