Cusco, capital of the Inca Empire in the 13th century, was an important center of indigenous people. Because of its antiquity and significance, the city center has retained many streets, colonial buildings, plazas, and churches of pre-Columbian times. Its preservation of its beautiful past led to its declaration as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.
The beautiful city of Cusco is incredibly well-preserved, boasting evidence of its rich and vibrant history. By walking the streets, you'll see evidence of indigenous Quechua culture in the Andes and the Spanish influence in its colonial buildings erected directly atop Inca walls.
The Sights and Sites of Cusco
Barrio de San Blas is a picturesque neighborhood with its old Spanish houses and the oldest parish church in Cusco which was built in 1563.
Convent and Church of la Merced's foundation dates back to 1536. It was the first complex destroyed by the earthquake of 1650, and its restoration was completed in 1675.
Estadio Garcilaso de la Vega is Cusco's main stadium and was one of seven stadiums used when Peru hosted the Copa América, South America's continental soccer championship in 2004. Today, the stadium is home to Cienciano, one of the country's most successful soccer clubs.
Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús church is one of the best examples of the colonial baroque style in the Americas. Its construction was initiated by the Jesuits in 1576 on the foundations of the palace of the Inca ruler Wayna Qhapaq or Amarucancha.
Iglesia del Triunfo was the first cathedral in Cusco which was built in 1539 on the foundations of the Palace of Viracocha Inca.
Hatun Rumiyuq is the street that is most visited by tourists. Here you will find Hatun Rumiyoq ("the one with the big stone"), the palace of Inca Roca, which was later converted to the Archbishop's residence.
Plaza de Armas Cusco, known as the "Square of the warrior" in the Inca era, features stone pathways and colorful gardens.
The Ruins of Ancient Cusco
Sacsayhuaman, a remarkable walled complex, is perhaps the most impressive of the many ruins in the city for being the site of the battle in which dozens of Pizarro's men charged uphill to battle the forces of the Inca in 1536. The site is famous for its extraordinary large dry stone walls with boulders that are held together with mortar - only cut and stacked so precisely that they fit together tightly, displaying an accuracy in building technique that is unmatched in the Americas.
Qurikancha and Convent of Santo Domingo is also referred to as the "golden place" for being the most significant sanctuary dedicated to Inti, the Sun God, at the time of the Inca Empire. It is also where the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun still stand.
Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary in 1981. It is an awe-inspiring Incan citadel that stands 2,430 m above sea-level high in the Andes Mountains in Peru. It has impressive giant walls, terraces, and ramps which amaze people when they realize that the Inca had no iron, no steel, and no wheels for building 500 years ago.
Taxis are common in Cusco although it’s actually small enough for you to walk around. However, you’ll need to take a taxi or bus to the bus station or airport. You can travel to Cusco by plane, train, or bus.
For further information about tours to discover the City of Cusco