Cusco

Cusco, means navel of the world, and is one of the largest regions of Peru. Its geographical location has allowed it to develop agriculturally, standing out in the cultivation of corn, quinoa, barley, potatoes, tea and coffee.

It is undoubtedly the city that preserves the most beautiful and important archaeological monuments of Peru and America, including Machu Picchu, being in this way the first tourist destination in our country, an important tourist destination for those who come to appreciate the impressive Inca architecture; made with originality and perfection stonework.

It was founded on March 23, 1533, by the conqueror Francisco Pizarro, thus turning the city of Cuzco into a mixed-race and colonial city.

In its surroundings there are many Inca and Colonial archaeological remains such as the archaeological site of Macchu Picchu, located 130 km northeast of the city of Cusco, 600 m approx. on the Urubamba river. Within this Inca citadel a total of 150 homes is calculated; houses with a single room, highlighting the solar clock (or Intihuatana), an astronomical observatory that was built in a strategic place of the citadel, from where the Incas could observe the movements of the sun.

In 1911, the American explorer, Hiram Bingham discovered the Archaeological Sanctuary of Macchu picchu.

Among its main archaeological monuments we can mention the fortress of SacsayHuamán, Ollantaytambo, Písac, Kenko, the Acllahuasi, the archaeological site of Tambomachay, among other sites of archaeological and tourist importance. Important colonial-style architectural remains from the past of the Spanish still remain, including the Cathedral Basilica, the temple and the convent of La Merced, the church of the company of Jesus, the pulpit of San Blas, the churches of Santa Catalina , Santa Clara and San Cristóbal, Santo Domingo, and museums and paintings of the Cusqueña School.

Due to the impressive beauty of its archaeological monuments, Cusco has been, deservedly, declared as the "Archaeological Capital of South America", in an Americanist congress held in Argentina in 1993. And in 1993, the state Peruvian through congress declares the city of Cusco as the "Historical Capital of Peru."

Location

The city of Cusco is located in the southern eastern Andes of Peru, at 13 ° 30’45 “south latitude and 71 ° 58’33” west longitude, in the jurisdiction of the Cusco region.

Information about the city of Cusco:

Cusco is often referred to as the “Archaeological Capital of America” ​​Cusco is a beautiful city full of contrasts between indigenous styles and the modern Western world. It is these contrasts that have given Cusco its rare beauty.

  • Altitude: 3,360m / 11,155ft
  • Location: Southeastern Peru
  • Average annual temperature: 11 ° C
  • Maximum temperature: 17 ° C
  • Minimum temperature: – 2 ° C
  • Dry weather Rains: from November to March
  • Population: 1’171503 inhabitants

Why visit the city of Cusco?

Cusco is fascinating because it is a destination where you will find history, nature, adventure, art, gastronomy and customs that are kept alive. Come and enjoy the warmth of a town the warmth of a town that enjoys with visitors, Cusco awaits you. You cannot miss the opportunity to meet her!

Where to begin?

Once the travel date has been chosen, the most important thing is to determine how to get there, choose a hotel and what activities to do during your stay. The options are many and we will help you make the best decision:

It is mandatory to visit the monumental main square, where you can appreciate the Main Cathedral of Cusco. On your way through the streets you will find craft shops, jewelers and typical clothes, so you will get to know part of Cusco’s art.

Do not forget to go to the traditional and picturesque neighborhood of San Blas, where you will find high quality local crafts, bars and traditional cafes always surrounded by cobbled streets and balconies from where you can contemplate this neighborhood and the entire city of Cusco. Around Cusco the Incas built Fortresses such as Sacsayhuaman, temples such as Qoricancha, Qenko and Tambomachay, if you wish, you will be able to know these imposing places by hiring the City Tour, on the way you will see the ingenuity and art of the Inca constructions.

Attractions in the city of Cusco:

Archaeological sites

The Inca construction technique was completely different from everything found in other latitudes of the world, making it unique in its various archaeological centers. Large stones, some over a hundred tons, were hauled from the quarries over 60 kilometers for construction. The orientation of its doors and windows, as well as the spectacular nature of its construction, are just some of the details that you will appreciate in this tour of these archaeological centers.

Qorikancha

Also called Koricancha or Coricancha, it is the most splendid architectural monument in the entire Empire made with large and medium stone pieces assembled to perfection. Currently on the base of this enclosure is the temple and convent of Santo Domingo, in the Plaza Santo Domingo.

Sacsayhuaman

One of the most impressive architectural complexes built in Inca times, located to the north of the main square of the city of Cusco. Sacsayhuaman was built between the 14th and 15th centuries. The work lasted more than five decades, being the work of 20,000 men who came together in the form of tribute (mita).

Q’enqo

Q’enqo is made up of two archaeological groups close to each other, based on huge limestone rock outcrops. “Q’enqo” means crooked labyrinth and is the name given to these two archaeological groups.

Pukapukara

It is an archaeological complex that is located on a huge rocky area with an area of ​​5,600 m2. Its name means Red Fortress, the name was given to it in the present century.

Tambomachay

Tanpumach’ay or Tambomachay, It is found at the foot of Cebollahuayq’o; whose hills, which enclose it, are visible from the city. This archaeological complex would have fulfilled an important religious function linked to water and the regeneration of the land.

Churches and Convents

The Catholic Church accompanied, from the beginning of the conquest, the Spanish troops. At the beginning of their evangelizing task, the priestly orders of that time built their churches on the most important Inca palaces and temples, to show off their power and impose their religion on the inhabitants of Cusco. On the other hand, convents had to be built to house the clergy. The best preserved buildings (10 in particular) have architectural and historical details worthy of being appreciated.

The Cathedral Basilica of Cusco

It is the most important, imposing and sumptuous monument of colonial architecture, for being the depository of multiple artistic manifestations.

Church of the Society of Jesus

It is one of the most outstanding monuments of the Andean baroque and is erected on the Amaru Kancha, the palace of the panaca of the Inca Huayna Cápac.

Church of La Merced

The church and convent of La Merced, whose original construction dates back to the mid-16th century, is one of the oldest in the city of Cusco.

Church of San Francisco de Asís

The structure of the convent and the church of San Francisco stand next to the National College of Sciences, and it was put at the service of his order in 1652.

Santo Domingo Church and Convent

Built on one of the most sacred places in pre-Columbian times, it was called in the time of the Incas “Inti Cancha”, it was the main temple of the Quechuas in the Cusco Valley.

Church and Convent of Santa Catalina

This church stands on what was the House of the Chosen or Virgins of the Sun, also called Acllawasi. In Inca times it occupied the entire block, limited by the Plaza de Armas.

Church of San Blas

Built on the Inca neighborhood of “Tococachi”, exactly on a place where the “Illapa” (Lightning in Quechua) was worshiped.

Bethlehem Church

Built in one of the Inca neighborhoods called Ch’akillchaKa, towards the west of the city of Cusco. This church like many suffered a serious deterioration in the earthquake of 1650.

St. Peter’s Church

In its beginnings it was a hospital to attend to the Indians or natives. It was built in 1556 and is located six blocks west of the Plaza de Armas in Cusco.

Church of San Cristóbal

Built on what was the palace of Manco Cápac. Its construction began in 1673 and it was a parish destined for the Indians or natives.

Museums

A city, as visited as Cusco, could not lack museums. These, oriented to show diverse aspects of the Pre-Inca, Inca, colonial and republican culture, are distributed throughout the city. Venture to know them, after your visit to them you will not stop thanking us. Here we detail how to get to the 9 museums that the imperial city of Cusco has.

Inka Museum

Installed the Museum in the Casa del Almirante, an important monument of viceregal architecture, keeps the main archaeological collection in Peru that reflects the Inca culture and other cultures of the Cusco region.

Pre-Columbian Art Museum

This museum is located in La Casa Cabrera, which was remodeled to house the first and only Peruvian museum dedicated to highlighting the art of the ancient cultures of Peru.

Santa Catalina Museum

Museum built on the Acllawawsi, west of the main square, this museum is inside the convent of Santa Catalina and houses works of art with religious themes. The site that currently occupies this museum was called the House of the Chosen.

Concha House Museum

The Machu Picchu Museum was set up in one of the best-known houses in Cusco “La Casa Concha”. In this museum the pieces of Machu Picchu returned by Yale University are exhibited. This beautiful place is notable for its picturesque balconies.

Religious Art Museum

A viceregal construction with Arab reminiscences, it was built on the foundations of what was originally the Palace of Inca Roca. It has a stone perimeter wall and inside is a large Renaissance courtyard with stone arches and tiles.

Regional Historical Museum

Also known as: “Casa Garcilaso”, since the Cusco writer Garcilaso de la Vega was born and lived in this house until he was 20 years old. The museum houses a set of collections of the rich and varied cultural heritage of Cusco.

Qorikancha Site Museum

In the outer courtyard of the Qorikancha there is a site museum where the functions of this Inca temple are explained. It exhibits fragments and ceramics from the Inca period as well as samples of metallurgy, textiles, painting, sculpture, musical instruments, sculpture, etc.

Contemporary Art Museum

Here are on display paintings, ceramics, sculptures and other works of art belonging to renowned national and foreign cultists of contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries, which are constantly renewed.

Popular art museum

Presents in its rooms the best craftsmanship in dolls, masks, children and idols. It shows old photographs of Cusco that are historical testimony of important events (cultural manifestations, large houses, streets and temples).

Inca Palaces

The Incas created a building style with cyclopean characteristics. This was especially evident in the palaces that were built for each successor who acceded to the throne. The remnants of these constructions can still be seen in the palaces that we describe below.

Qollqanpata

The Qollqanpata palace was built on the slopes of Sacsayhuaman in the Qollqanpata neighborhood, this palace belonged to the founder of the Inca empire, Manco Capac.

Qasana

Set of buildings whose eastern south flank overlooked the Wacaypata (current Plaza de Armas), was the palace of the Inca Pachacutec and the residence of the Royal Line “Iñapa Panaka Ayllu”.

Qoraqora

This palace was ordered to be built by Inca Roca and was the residence of the “Ayllu Raurau”. It was located next to the Qasana facing the Waqaypata (current Plaza de Armas).

Kiswar kancha

Inca Palace that belonged to the Inca Wiraqocha, contained interior buildings and large patios, was located towards the east side of the Waqaypata, where the Cathedral Basilica of Cusco is currently located.

Hatunrumiyoq

Hatun Rumiyoc Palace, named for containing the famous 12-angle stone in one of its walls, is also known as the Inca Roca Palace.

Hatun kancha

Inca Palace located towards the eastern side of the Waqaypata (Plaza de Armas). It was ordered to be built by Amaru Inca Yupanqui.

Pukamarka

To the southeast of the Waqaypata, Pukamarka was an Inca palace of rectangular shape that belonged to Tupaq Inka Yupanqui, as well as his Panaca called “Hatun Ayllu”.

Amaru kancha

Huge block of buildings with a rectangular plan that was located south of the Waqaypata and was ordered to be built by Wayna Qapaq, it was the residence of the Panaca “Tumipampa Ayllu”.

Colonial houses

At the beginning of the colony, the kings of Spain, like the Church, sent their most renowned representatives to live in the new continent. When they arrived, they chose well-located plots to build their houses. Many of them adorn the city with their beautiful majesty. The 7 that we describe below are the most important.

Archbishop’s Palace

This colonial palace, reminiscent of arabesques, was built on the foundations of what was originally the Inca Roca palace on Hatunrumiyoc street and is currently the Museum of Religious Art.

Admiral’s Palace

It is a colonial house located on Cuesta Almirante street and was built by the Spanish admiral Francisco Alderete Maldonado who occupied the house until his death in 1643.

Cabrera House

Located in one of the most peaceful and welcoming places in the city of Cusco, one block from the Plaza de Armas, Casa Cabrera is an extraordinary historical monument. It synthesizes in itself the history of ur architecture

Inca Garcilaso De La Vega House

This colonial house, located west of the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, was the home of the illustrious Cusco writer Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Currently this house is the Regional Historical Museum.

House of the Marqués de Valleumbroso

The house of the Marqués de Valleumbroso dates from the 16th century. It is located on Calle Marqués and is currently the “Diego Quispe Tito” Superior School of Fine Arts.

House Of The Four Busts

This house, located on Calle San Agustín, was originally the home of the Marqués de Salas y Valdés (known as the Casa de los Cuatro Bustos). It is part of the cultural heritage of the city of Cusco.

House of the Marquis of Picoaga

Located on Calle Santa Teresa, its construction dates back to the 18th century. It is one of the colonial houses that still preserves its original style, it has a colonial wing and a modern one since it is currently the Hotel Picoaga.

Natural Attractions

Descending into the jungle, from Cusco, you reach two beautiful places of frank and natural attraction. Both contain, in their vast expanses, landscapes, flora and fauna typical of the high jungle or rain forest. Entering them will be, without a doubt, the perfect complement to your stay in Cusco.

Megantoni National Sanctuary

It is believed that the Inca exchange point with the Amazonian natives was located in Pongo de Mainique, the natural boundary between Upper and Lower Urubamba, and a sacred place for both peoples.

Kosñipata / Pilcopata

Entry point to the Manu National Park. It includes the upper floor or high jungle of the Alto Madre de Dios.

¿How to get to Cusco?

How to get there by air

The most convenient and recommended way to travel to Cusco by air is to first get to Lima and from there decide whether to take another flight or a bus. From there it is possible to get direct flights to Cusco, with an average duration of no more than seventy minutes. It is also possible to fly to and from Arequipa; Juliaca in Puno; Puerto Maldonado or Ayacucho.

It is important to bear in mind when traveling that the “domestic tax” must be paid at the airport in the case of domestic flights and another boarding fee for international flights.

On the other hand, you can enter Cusco, since it has been remodeled and modernized, through the Alejandro Velasco Astete airport, located just ten minutes from the city, in Quispiquilla.

In this case, all passengers coming from international flights must go through immigration and customs, present their boarding and disembarking card, and keep it until they leave the country.

However, all flights must be reconfirmed 72 hours before from any travel agency or directly by phone with the ticket number. Daily departures to Cusco are via Lan Peru, Peruvian Airlines, Taca and Aviandina.

How to get there by land

Although it is possible to access Cusco by land, it is also important to know that it is not the most convenient, the road is long and can be very exhausting. In time the trip can last approximately a day and a half.

From Lima you can take routes 1, 2 and 3. On route 1 you must travel first to Arequipa, from there to Juliaca and finally to Cusco.

Opting for route 2, you must start to travel from Lima to Nasca, then to Puquio, then to Chalhuanca and Abancay and finally from there to Cusco.If route 3 is chosen instead, the route begins in Lima continuing to Huancayo and then to Abancay, from there the next destination is Cusco.

How to get there by bus

If you travel by bus from Písac, Calca or Urubamba, you will arrive at Av. Tullumayo; If you are traveling from Oropesa, Urcos or Sicuani, then the arrival will be in the closed arena on Av. Manco Cápac.

In any case, it should also be borne in mind that most of the interprovincial transport reaches the Tío terminal as well as Av. Pachacútec.

Worldwide Recognition to Cusco

The city of Cuzco has received several honorary titles and international awards.

These are:

  • Cusco, first city and first vote of all the cities and towns of Nueva Castilla., Granted in Madrid by Royal Decree of Carlos V, on April 24, 1540
  • The very famous, very noble, loyal and most faithful city of Cusco, the most important and head of the kingdoms of Peru. Granted in Madrid by Royal Decree of Carlos V on July 19, 1540.
  • Cusco, Archaeological Capital of America. Awarded at the XXV International Congress of Americanists held in La Plata, Argentina in 1933. This title was endorsed by the Congress of the Republic of Peru through Law No. 7688 of January 23, 1933.
  • Cusco, cultural heritage of the world. Awarded by the Seventh Convention of Mayors of the Great Cities of the World, meeting in Milan, Italy on April 19, 1978.
  • Cusco, Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Awarded by UNESCO in Paris, France on December 9, 1983.
  • Cusco, Cultural Heritage of the Nation. Granted by Law No. 23765 of December 30, 1983. Article 3 of this Law designates the City of Cusco as the Tourist Capital of Peru.
  • Cusco, Historical Capital of Peru. Awarded by Article 49 of the 1993 Political Constitution of Peru.
  • Cusco, Historic Capital of Latin America Awarded by the Latin American Congress of Aldermen and Councilors, in the city of Cuzco, in the month of November 2001.
  • Cusco, American Capital of Culture Awarded by the American Capital of Culture Organization in 2007.
  • Cusco, Wonder of the World Awarded on July 7, 2007 in a ceremony held in Lisbon – Portugal.

Weather in Cusco

The weather in Cusco is temperate, moderately rainy and with moderate thermal amplitude. The annual mean maximum and minimum temperature (period 1953-1991) is 19.6 ° C and 4.4 ° C, respectively. The mean annual accumulated precipitation for the period 1950-1991 is 731.8 mm.

Cusco Altitude

The altitude of Cusco is 3399 meters above sea level

Recommendations for Altitude Sickness

The altitude of Cusco is why its visitors frequently come to suffer from a typical disease known as altitude sickness, soroche or mountain sickness. If you want to make the most of your trip, we recommend that you take the following into consideration:

How to avoid:

  • Consult with your doctor about altitude sickness before making the trip, so that he can medicate you according to your body.
  • The visitor must acclimatize for a period of at least 24 hours, that is, arrive one day before starting their tour or tour
  • You should consume products with little amount of salt and try to eat products rich in sugars.
  • Fluid intake is extremely important as it helps counteract the effects of altitude.
  • You should avoid taking long walks the first day and if you do them it is better to be accompanied.
  • Wear suitable clothing that does not make you feel uncomfortable and causes fatigue or suffocation.
  • Consume products such as mates or coca infusions (without sugar).

Festivities

The Cuzqueño and in general the Peruvian, is a festive town par excellence that has turned religious celebrations into true popular festivals where ceremonies and cults are so important as: dances, meals, and drinks. For example, there are typical foods that are prepared only for certain parties and the same happens with dances. The most important festival in the Cuzco festival is Holy Week, with its Holy Monday and Holy Friday processions. To these festivities we must add two that are held in places somewhat far from Cusco, La Virgen del Carmen in Paucartambo and Qoylloritti, near the town of Ocongate. Both are equal in originality and beauty to the city festivals.

Inti Raymi

The celebration of Inti Raymi is a tradition that reaches our days from the time of the Inca Empire. It has been recovered in all its splendor for more than 50 years and with increasing strength and attractiveness. The ancient great Inca city of Cusco is home to the most striking festival that attracts a large number of foreign visitors. It is also carried out in almost all the towns that formed the Old Empire, as in the case of northern Argentina. The Inti Raymi is the tribute that Peruvian man pays to the Sun and all of nature. This is one of the many religious manifestations of Peru. An excellent representation of the Inti Raymi is the one that takes place in the Saqsayhuaman, with the participation of hundreds of people in the ceremony. It is the richest festival of the Inka empire, which is offered to the world.

Food in Cusco

The city of Cusco has a wide range of typical dishes, a great heritage from its ancestors. Trying food in Cusco is a way to get to know the city. Among the typical food in Cusco are:

  • Spicy potato with fried guinea pig.
  • Kapchi.
  • Chiriuchu.
  • Cuy Cusqueño style.
  • Timpo or puchero.
  • Chicharrón with mote.
  • Humitas.
  • Tamales.
  • Chuño cola.
  • Lawa.
  • Marinade.
  • Olluco with meat.
  • Pepián of guinea pig or rabbit.
  • Stuffed hot pepper.

To drink the authentic Andean drink is recommended, the traditional chicha de jora, of course you cannot leave the city without having tried the delicious and refreshing local beer.