Welcome to Cusco!

Seductive, striking and natural, Cusco’s history lives in its streets, squares, valleys and towns.Stunning destinations and examples of fine engineering by Inca stonemasons can be seen in Choquequirao, Saysayhuamán, Kenko, Tambomachay, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu, the Inca jewel built with the wisdom of the ancient Peruvians in an ecological environment. Captivating landscapes such as the Sacred Valley, where the mountains are clothed by terraces. Pictures villages where the past forms part of the present. Cusco really is the birthplace of the world.

Sights

Main Attractions

Cusco Plaza de Armas
In Inca times, it was called “Huacaypata,” a Quechua word meaning a place of meeting or of weeping. It was an important ceremonial site, where the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun was celebrated each year. It was also the site where Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cusco. With the arrival of the Spanish, the plaza was transformed: they built stone arches and erected the buildings that still surround it to this day.

San Blas neighbourhood
Named “T’oqokachi or hueco de sal” (salt hole), with steep, narrow streets and lovely colonial-style houses. It is known as the artisan’s neighbourhood. Many families offer accommodation in their homes.

Sacsayhuamán Archaeological Complex (Cusco)
The complex comprises 33 archaeological sites, the best known of which is the Sacsayhuaman Fortress. The building was probably used for religious purposes but, due to its location and style, the Spanish and contemporary writers assumed it was a military structure. The consensus among historians suggests that the construction of Saqsayhuaman began at the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century, under the leadership of Inca Pachactueq. In terms of how long the construction took, contemporary references indicate it took around 60 years. Saqsayhuaman would have held the most important temple in Hanan Qosqo or Upper Cusco, dedicated to Andean cosmology, worship of the Inti (Sun), Quilla (Moon), Chaska (Stars), Illapa (Lightning) and the other divinities. The building qualifies as a cyclopean construction due to the size of its stones, some of which weigh between 90 and 128 tonnes. On 24 June each year, the fortress is the setting for the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun.

Tambomachay Archaeological Complex (Cusco)
The building would probably have had an important religious role linked to water and the regeneration of the earth. The site stretches over approximately half a hectare, and the material used for its construction was polygon-shaped limestone.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (Cusco)
It forms part of the network of Inca trails (Qhapaq Ñan). This is one of the most famous trekking routes in South America. On the trek, hikers can see numerous ravines and waterways flowing from glaciers. Among the 12 archaeological sites that can be visited, the following really stand out: Qoriwachayrachina, Patallaqta, Runkuraqay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Intipunku, Intipata and Wiñayhuayna.

Inti Raymi (Cusco) 24 June
Inti Raymi is the Festival of the Sun, which coincides with the winter solstice and harvest time. The ceremony takes place in Sacsayhuaman Fortress, where attendees follow a detailed script and sacrifice two llamas to tell the future. The Inca presides over the ceremony in Cusco’s main square and demands that the authorities govern well. At sunset, the Inca announces the end and a merry celebration starts.

Corpus Christi (Cusco) 03 June
A procession of images of fifteen patron saints that are extremely revered in the city. Musical and folkloric groups take part in the procession. The typical and classical dish at this festival is the “chiri uchu”, roasted guinea pig with toasted corn, rocoto peppers, parboiled chicken, cheese, seaweed, sausage, fish roe and corn tortillas. On the main day there is a procession of all the Saints and Virgins around the main square and then the images enter the Cathedral to pay their respects.

Puente Colgante de Q’eswachaka (Canas)
A bridge that is 33 metres long and 1.2 metres wide, from which one can view the Apurímac River canyon in all its splendour. Woven over a period of three days by roughly 1,000 local residents, every second Sunday in June, using woven “ichu” and “chachacomo” straw. The work, which dates back to pre-Inca times, employs traditional techniques amid ritual ceremonies and dances by local residents. The bridge is finished on the fourth day, giving way to singing and dancing.

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Map

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