The Plaza de Armas is an unparalleled destination within the beautiful Imperial City and is an unmissable point of the city since it is where numerous tourist circuits take part. It is surrounded by colonial buildings that denote the passage of the Spanish and many other buildings of great importance. Even so, this square has an origin that dates back long before the conquest, and its part within the Inca Empire was of great importance. The Plaza de Armas was the point chosen by the Incas to begin the creation of the capital of the Inca Empire. History, culture, beauty, and tradition complement each other in this place to create one of the best-known squares within Peru. For this reason, together with Machu Travel Peru, we want to explain everything about the Cusco main square and a bit of its history.
EVERYTHING ABOUT THE CUSCO MAIN SQUARE
- BRIEF HISTORY
- THE PLAZA IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES
- CLIMATE AND ALTITUDE
- FOOD AND DRINK
- AMBULANT SELLERS
The traditional myth says that Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo arrived at what would be today the Cusco main square after having traveled many kilometers looking for an ideal place to create the Incanato. They were sent by the God Inti, father of Manco Cápac, who ordered them to carry goldenrod and, on the land where it sank, it was the right place to found the new city.
Previously, the Cusco main square was a swamp, this was dried during the time of the Inca Empire. To speak of Cusco and its plaza is to speak of a destination full of history that extends from the Inca period to modern times. It was the Inca Sinchi Roca who ordered its drying and ended during the reign of Pachacutec. During the Inca era, the Plaza de Armas occupied a much larger space than we know now. It is in the plaza where the most important Inca palaces such as Pachacutec and Viracocha were located. The plaza was the administrative, religious, and cultural nucleus of the capital of one of the largest empires in Latin America.
THE PLAZA IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES
Today the Cusco main square is one of the main attractions of the Imperial City. Here, you will find numerous religious temples with colonial facades such as The Cathedral, The Church of the Society of Jesus, and the Chapel of Triumph. Touring these buildings is one of the best things to do around Cusco. Also, if you are lucky you can witness numerous traditional events where you can have fun and learn about the different dances and typical music. These events are usually part of the free things to do in Cusco, and you can get to know the Cusco customs from the pre-Hispanic to the modern era. All this without mentioning that, around the square, there are many of the most popular restaurants, bars, and cafes where you can taste the flavor of the city.
CLIMATE AND ALTITUDE
Although you can visit the city throughout the year, within Cusco you will find two very marked weather seasons. Depending on your taste and what you want to do, you will decide the best time to visit Cusco. In general, from May to October you have the dry season and between November and April, it is the rainy season. If you are looking to do a Machu Picchu day trip from Cusco, it is recommended to do it during the dry season. Another particular thing to take into account is that both the Cusco main square and the entire city are at an altitude of about 3,400 meters, which can cause discomfort and inconvenience during the trip. But even so, it is not very difficult to acclimatize to the altitude, it is simply taking precautions during the first days.
FOOD AND DRINK
One of the fascinating things about tours in Peru is being able to taste the delicious cuisine that is around Cusco. And just surrounding the Plaza de Armas are the most popular restaurants, bars, and cafes in the city. The restaurants offer traditional Peruvian food such as guinea pig, Lomo Saltado, Ají de Gallina, and other internationally well-known dishes such as pizza, pasta, and grilled meats.
Another of the wonderful things to enjoy along the Cusco tourist map and the Plaza de Armas is the different street vendors around. Street vendors sell all kinds of things and services. Sightseeing tours of the city, Anticucho, Emoliente, souvenirs, and much more to buy from the locals.
Another particular feature of the city is that it has a very active nightlife to enjoy. Varied entertainment such as discos, bars, pubs, and all surrounding or very close to Cusco main square. You will find numerous activities to do during the night in Cusco, but within our Cusco travel tips, we recommend to be careful with your belongings and being alone at night because you can be a victim of minor crimes such as theft.
“WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU DID SOMETHING FOR THE FIRST TIME?”
We hope together with Machu Travel Peru to have informed you about one of the best-known Squares in Peru. This place full of history witnessed many historical events of yesteryear and that is why it deserves a visit from you if you visit the magical city of Cusco. If you wish, our certified guides can help you understand the history and culture behind this place.