Inca walls, colorful costumes, churches built on top of palaces, citadels lost in the Andean heights, legendary roads -all the beauty of a glorious past that enfolds the visitor who arrives in Cuzco, the sacred city of the Incas and archaeological capital of the Americas. Ever since US archaeologist Hiram Bingham discovered the citadel of Machu Pichu for the world, Cuzco has fired the imagination of thousands of travelers from all over the world who venture down the Inca Trail every year headed for the summit of one of the world’s most extraordinary monuments.
The city of Cuzco, however, features many other attractions which by themselves would be enough to attract visitors: the main square, which the Incas called Huacaypata, the artisans quarter of San Blas, the Convent of Santo Domingo, built on top of the Temple of the Sun or Korikancha, the palaces of the Inca and his court, part of a long list of archaeological wonders.
There are also several circuits on the outskirts of town, which usually include the imposing ruins of Sacsayhuaman or Tambomachay. Visitors can also take part in all kinds of adventure sports and participate in the most spectacular religious festivals on the continent. Celebrations include Qoyllur Rit´i, which is held at 4,000 meters, the Corpus Christi procession and the famous Inti Raymi spectacle.
With its bustling nightlife, Cuzco is also a magical city of dizzying excitement. Together with its rich archaeological legacy which is to be found on practically every street corner, its cultural scene makes the sacred city of the Incas the most spectacular destination in the Americas.
Main Square. –
Known as Huacaypata or the Warrior’s Square in Inca times, it was the scene of several key events in the history of Cusco. Each year, the spectacular Inti Raymi or Feast of the Sun took place there. Francisco Pizarro also proclaimed here the conquest of Cusco. With the arrival of the Spanish, the square was surrounded by a beautiful stone arcade, which embellishes the place until today.
The Cathedral. –
Located on the Main Square, it was originally built on top of the ancient temple of Suntur Wasi (God’s House). Today, it is the Church of El Triunfo. Later on, a new cathedral was built over what used to be the Palace of Inca Wiracocha. The façade and interior are of Renaissance style. The interior is decorated with wooden carvings on cedar and alder. The carvings of Martin Torres and Melchor Huamán are remarkable. Also important are the choir, pulpit, woodcarvings found on altars and furniture, as well as paintings of important artists and silver works.
Located 1.8 miles (3 Km) away from Cusco and about 15 minutes by car from the city. It is thought to be a place of worship. There is a huge stone block of 19.3 ft. (5.9 m) high in the shape of a puma. There are also passages, channels and stairs with engravings representing animal shapes.
Located 4.3 miles (7 Km) away from Cusco and about 35 minutes by car from the city. Known as the Inca Baths, it is considered a place where water was worshipped.