Interesting places in Cusco

How to tour the city

Interesting places in Cusco. The old city center of Cuzco is small and easily accessible. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best way to explore the city is on foot. However, the steep streets can turn a simple walk into an exhaust- ing hike, especially if visitors have not adapted to the altitude. We recommend dividing the city into areas of interest (the main square, the quarter of San Bias, Kolkampata, among others) and take a taxi to each one. Once there, take your time. There is something worth seeing in each nook and cranny of the city. The cost of taxis in Cuzco averages S/.2 (around US$ 0.60) and S/.3 (us$ 0.90) after 10 pm.

The tourist ticket

This ticket allows visitors to take in the city’s 10 most impor­tant tourist attractions: the Cathedral, the churches of San Blas and Santa Catalina, the Religious Art Museum and the Regional History Museum, in addition to the archaeological sites of Piquillacta, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Sacsay- huaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay. The ticket costs US$12 (for both Peruvians and foreign tourists) and is valid for 10 days. The ticket can be bought at the offices of the Regional Tourism Department (Direccion Regional deTurismo), on the main square, the National Culture Institute (Instituto Nacional de Cultura), on Garcilaso street, Plaza Regocijo, or at any of the sites on the list. The ticket is highly recommended for those visiting Cuzco for the first time.

The tourist ticket

The tourist ticket

How the city once looked

Chroniclers claim that during Inca empire, the city was subdivided into 12 urban quarters that surrounded the central area, which was reserved for the Inca’s palace, the temples and seats of the panacas or clans of the highest-ranking Inca nobility. The Huatanay and Tullumayo Rivers oudined the most sacred areas. These rivers were channeled in recent times. The old Huatanay riverbed is now cov­ered by the streets of Saphi, Plateros and El Sol; where the Tullumayo once flowed, today lie the streets of Choquechaca and Tullumayo. Legend has it that the area marked out by these rivers was divided into two sectors. The clans and ayllus of the first Inca rulers were believed to have lived in Hurin Cuzco (Lower Cuzco), while Hanan Cuzco (Upper Cuzco) is said to have been the residence of the Inca nobility since the time of ruler Inca Roca (the sixth sovereign, said to have governed from 1350-1380).

Cusco Map 2017

Cusco Map 2017

Traditional nooks and districts

The main square

Also called Aucaypata (‘the warriors’ square’, in Quechua), the square is said to have been mapped out by ruler Manco Capac, founder of the Inca empire. During the Inca empire, the plaza was practically twice its current size and was split in half by the Huatanay River (also called Saphi). The square is lined by ancient and beautiful stone arches standing two storeys high, the imposing Cathedral, the churches of Sagrados Corazones, the Iglesia del Triunfo and the Iglesia de la Com pan (a. The plaza has witnessed many key events, including executions which were to mark Peru’s destiny. Public executions included Tupac Amaru I, the last of the rebel Incas in Vilcabamba, in 1572; Diego de Almagro, rival to Spanierd Conqueror Francisco Pizarro in 1538, followed by his son, Diego de Almagro “El Mozo” four years later; and rebel Tupac Amaru II, the harbin­ger of South American independence, in 1781.

Main Square Cusco

Main Square Cusco

San Blas

This is the most picturesque district in Cuzco. Known as the ‘Artisans Quarter’, the area is home to renowned craftsmen from the region. The quarter is riddled with narrow, steep streets

San Blas Square Cusco

San Blas Square Cusco

Pukamarka

The palace of the clan of Tupac Inca Yupanqui (the eleventh Inca, believed to have ruled from 1471-1493). The palace occupied what is now the streets of Maruri, San Agustfn, Santa Catalina and Arequipa. Long stretches of its superbly-built walls can be found along the streets of Maruri and San Agustin.

Kolkampata

On the slopes of Sacsayhuaman lie the remains of what is believed to have been the palace of Manco Capac, the first Inca ruler. Truth be told, the complex features constructions from differ­ent eras. The outer wall of the palace of Kolkampata is studded with 10 large niches, possibly a reference to the 10 founding ayllus of the empire.

Santo Domingo

EL SOL, PLAZOLETA DE SANTO DOMINGO This Dominican church and convent was built on top of the ruins of the Korikancha (‘golden chamber’), the main Inca temple dedicated to sun worship and whose inner walls were said to have been lined with gold. The Spanish chroniclers wrote that the Inca temple featured chambers dedicated to the cult of the moon, thunder, rainbows and deities of tribes conquered by the Incas. In 1534, shortly after the Spanish city had been founded, and when the construction of the church had just gotten underway, Conqueror Francisco Pizarro deposited here the standard ol King Charles V, the “Pendant of the Conquest”, kept in a pri vileged spot until 1824. The church doorway is a splendid example of Renaissance art, while the belltower, similar to the church of La Merced, is eminently Baroque. The abbey was built on top of a magnificent circular wall that once belonged to the Korikancha. It features an important collection of paintings on the life of Santo Domingo de Guzman.

PI.AZOLETA DE SAN BLAS

The greatest treasure of this church consists of a major collection of paintings, its splendid main altar and particularly its famous Buroque pulpit, carved from a single cedar trunk and held to be the finest example of wood carvings in the colonial Americas. I he carving dates back to the late seventeenth century and is in Builded to indigenist craftsman Juan Tomas Tuyru Tupac. Visits: Mon-Sat from 14:00-17:30.

PI.AZA DE SAN FRANCISCO

Built by Spanish Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572, the

The church had to be restored after the 1650 earthquake. The church is built in the shape of the Latin cross, features three naves and a high square tower. The faqade that faces the square is Renaissance. I he church features one of the most famous choirstalls in Spanish America, due to its magnificent haute-relief carvings.

The convent withstood the 1650 earthquake, making it a mag­nificent example of sixteenth-century architecture.

San Pedro IN FRONT OF THE MARKET

Built in 1688, the church was designed by indigenist architect and sculptor Juan Tomas Tuyru Tupac. The building features two Renaissance belltowers and a facade, while the structure is shaped like a Latin cross. The church includes a nave with high vaulted ceilings and six side chapels. The main altar is a Baroque masterpiece with a silver front where steps and a tabernacle stand out, as does the pulpit. The church also houses a fine collection of paintings.

 

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