Cusco, navel of the world for the Inca Culture was the home of the Inca Empire and from where it was run. In Inca times, the city had a huge main square where all the ceremonies were held. There were many ornate temples to see and it is said that most where covered with gold. These days you can only see the foundations of the Inca temples as when the Spanish arrived they sent most of gold back to Spain and took apart most of the temples. Today thousands of tourists flock to the Inca city each year to experience all the beauty of this fascinating city. On a visit what are the best things to do in Cusco city, which is a great question and here we will help you with some suggestions and things that you should not miss.
PLAZA DE ARMAS
Let us start with the Plaza de Armas, located in the center of the city; the Plaza in Inca times was twice the size. When the Spanish arrived they built there houses and churches around the plaza making it smaller than the original size. The plaza features two churches, The church of El triunfo, was Cusco’s first cathedral. Construction started in 1539 on the grounds of the Palace of the Viracocha Inca, the red granite blocks forming an impressive façade. Next to Cusco Cathedral, you will find a similar Christian colossus: the Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus. Often referred to as the most wonderful baroque-style church in the Americas, the cathedral has quite an exciting history. The Jesuits built it to outdo the splendor of the Cathedral next door.
Also located on the main square are many restaurants located in houses with great views of the plaza. Some have balconies that on a fine day you can sit and enjoy your meal and the view.
Walk down Av Sol away from the Plaza and you will arrive at Coricancha, called today the Convent of Santo Domingo, this once was the most important temple in the Inca Empire: The House of the Sun. It is believed that all the walls have once been covered in solid gold, while courtyards and niches featured heavy golden statues. This church is a recent addition, the Inka foundations remain literally unchanged.
Just outside the city are the four Cusco Archaeological sites that you should take the time to visit, Sacsaywayhman, PukaPukara, Tambo Mochay and Qenko, all have significant importance for the Inca but were mostly destroyed by the Spanish Conquistadors. If you choose to take a city tour than these ruins will be included as part of your tour. The ruins are worth a visit so take the time to discover.
NEIGHBORHOOD OF SAN BLAS
The San Blas area of Cusco should be on your list of places to go. Known as the artist’s district, the area has a small plaza which is frequented by locals and non-locals who want to sell their wares. The plaza is also surrounded by souvenir shops and nice restaurants to eat. What features on the Plaza San Blas is the Church; the church is rather plain from outside. Inside, however, you will see one of the main attractions of Cusco: a wooden pulpit of intricate baroque design. There are many myths about the creation of this pulpit and there is an audio guide available will tell you a few.
SAN PEDRO MARKET
While in Cusco you will need to visit San Pedro Market, the market is large in size and offers a variety of things that would attract you to visit. When you first enter, there is a variety of souvenirs on offer. Walk further down into the market and there are stalls selling freshly made juices of any variety you choose. Visit the people selling all sorts of fruit and vegetable and even Meat and Chicken are available to buy. For a budget meal try a Menu which features a soup, a main and a drink for a very cheap price. The food stalls will be full with local people having lunch so look for the most popular.
There are some wonderful hotels in Cusco Peru that you must stay at or just visit. Many are housed in Spanish Colonial buildings that have been refurbished to their original form. The Belmond Monestario for example has a beautiful little church that you can visit. The hotel has a wonderful restaurant and a patio to enjoy on a sunny day. The Aranwa Boutique hotel in Cusco has an impressive collection of art that is worth a visit.
If you are concerned about your stomach than do not worry as Cusco has some of the best restaurants in Peru. Try Ciccolina or Limo for a great mix of Peruvian and modern cuisine. In addition, there are many vegetarian restaurants in Cusco for those who are vegetarian.
Why visit Cusco city? The reasons are endless, Cusco is a great place to spend a few day to chill out or to discover all the history the city has to offer. These are just some of the things to do in Cusco, a highlight of any trip to Peru.