Cusco
Cusco
Cusco

The city of Cusco is situated in the valley of the Huatanay River, in the southeastern Andes of Peru, at an altitude of 3,399 meters above sea level. Named the Archaeological Capital of America, it astonishes with its beauty and unique character, which is the product of the contrasts and combinations created by the meeting of indigenous and European culture, both historically and today.

The enormous Inca walls formed by perfectly fitted huge blocks of stone, upon which the colonial city was constructed, are a distinctive and impressive feature of Cusco’s architecture. Cusco is the product of the fusion of two cultures, and this aspect of its character is reflected in the church of Santo Domingo, which was built over the Coricancha, the ancient Inca Temple of the Sun.

Located in the southwestern part of present-day Peru, the history of Cusco, named the navel of the Earth by its Quechua inhabitants, dates back to 1200 AD, although the most splendid phase of its history began under the rule of the Inca Pachacutec in the 15th century.

Cusco offers a number of attractions that visitors should not miss, including the most prized jewels of its colonial architecture: the attractive Plaza de Armas, surrounded by the majestic profiles of the churches of the Cathedral and La Compañía; the cloister of the church of Santo Domingo, with its impressive 17th century canvasses; the majestic church of the Company of Jesus [Compañía de Jesús], considered one of the greatest achievements of American baroque (17th century); the church of San Blas, with its choir stalls and monumental pulpit carved from wood and measuring nine meters in height and representing the very best of Peruvian baroque art.

Climate

The city of Cusco has a semi-dry and cold climate. The maximum annual average temperature is 19.6°C (67.3ºF) and the minimum temperature is 4.2°C (39.6ºF).

The rainy season begins in November and ends in March, and during this period the mountains are covered in green vegetation. Between June and July the cold is more intense, and occasional snowfall has been reported.

Altitude:

Capital: 3399 meters above sea level Cusco) Altitude: Minimum: 532 meters above sea level (Pilcopata) Maximum altitude: 4801 meters above sea level (Suyckutambo)

Plaza de Armas of the city of Cusco

During the time of the Incas, the main square was known as "Haucaypata", which in Quechua means “the meeting place of tears”, It was an important ceremonial center where every year the Fiesta of the Sun, or Inti Raymi, was celebrated.

It was here that Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cusco. With the arrival of the Spanish, the plaza was transformed; stone arches were built and the magnificent buildings we see today were erected.

Cathedral of the city of Cusco

The Cathedral was constructed in two stages: The first stage involved the building of the Triunfo [“Triumph”] Chapel over what had previously been the Suntur Wasi (House of God). Subsequently, the cathedral was built over the palace of the Inca Wiracocha. The façade and interior are dominated by the renaissance style, and the interior decoration is enriched by details carved from cedar and alder. The church is home to an important collection of paintings from the Cusco School and objects made from embossed silver.

Cusco Planetarium

The Cusco Planetarium is an educational and entertaining experience which teaches visitors about the little-known achievements of the Incas in the field of astronomy. The facilities include a dome in which a virtual projection of the night sky shows the different constellations of the southern sky, and state-of-the-art telescopes are available. The surrounding countryside is home to plants and animals native to the Andes.

San Blas Neighborhood

This is one of the most picturesque parts of Cusco. Originally known as "T'oqokachi” (“hole of salt”), the neighborhood is characterized by narrow, steep streets and beautiful colonial-style houses. It is known as the Craftsman’s Neighborhood. San Blas is home to many families who offer accommodation in their houses.

Archbishop’s Palace and Twelve-Angled Stone

This building is a viceroyalty construction with Arab influenced architecture that was erected over the foundations of the palace of Inca Roca. Today, it is home to the Museum of Religious Art. In Calle Hatunrumiyoc, visitors can see the ancient Inca wall that formed part of the palace of Inca Roca, with its admirably carved, fitted and polished Inca masonry. This structure is remarkable for the so-called “Twelve-Angled Stone”, which is famous for the perfectly worked angles that fit exactly with the stones that surround it.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail formed part of the network of Inca highways (Qhapaq Ñan). It is one of the most important trekking routes in South America.

During the trek, walkers can observe several ravines and glacial streams. The twelve archaeological sites that can be seen along the trail include Qoriwachayrachina, Patallaqta, Runkuraqay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Intipunku, Intipata and Wiñayhuayna.



The route varies depending on the section of the trail you choose to hike. The most popular route begins at Km 82 of the Cusco to Machu Picchu railroad and it is a 40 kilometer walk to the citadel of Machu Picchu. Another option is the shorter route, known as the Sacred Path, which begins at Km 104 of the railroad.

Plaza de Armas de la Ciudad del Cusco
Catedral de la Ciudad del Cusco
Planetarium Cusco
Barrio de San Blas
Palacio Arzobispal y Piedra de los Doce Ángulos
Camino Inca a Machu Picchu