Cusco is full of wonderful natural treasures and manmade beauty that is some say beyond compare. The history of Cusco and for that matter Peru is very fascinating even for the non-history buff. The Inca and the pre Inca architecture will leave you breathless and hearing the stories and legends will keep you amazed for days on end. If you are planning to travel to Cusco, you will need to decide what is the best time to visit Machu Picchu and the Cusco region. If the Inca Trail is what you want to go to Cusco to do then do the trail, that will be a memory made for a lifetime. Before you even consider embarking on your journey to Machu Picchu, you will have to spend sometime in the wonderful Inca city of Cusco.
Over recent years, Cusco has become a popular place in South America for foreigners wishing to say and set up home. The center of the city has the most beautiful plaza, which has some delicious restaurants and some fun bars to dance the night away. However, while you are in Cusco whether it be for 2 days or 2 months you must see some of the fabulous museums on offer.
The first and maybe the best in Cusco is the Inka Museum, located inside a grand Spanish Colonial mansion which was owned by admiral Francisco Aldrete Maldonado and that is built on top of Inca foundations, the museum houses the best collections of gold, metal, textiles, pottery pieces, mummies, drinking vessels and other archaeological finds from the Cusco area. Make sure you look at the ornate ceilings and see the local weavers in the buildings courtyard.
The museum is more expensive than the others in Cusco are but the entrance price is worth it for the quality of the museum. You may also hire an English-speaking guide; this also is a worthwhile investment to learn about the history of the pieces.
Pre Columbian Art Museum is located in the Plaza Nazarenas, opened in 2003 this beautiful museum is set around a courtyard features a collection of more than 450 pieces taken from the Larco Museum storage rooms in Lima, the museum displays beautiful jewelry, pottery, weaving, stone carvings from the pre Colombian cultures including the Nazca, Moche, Paracas and Inca Cultures. The museum is again housed in a Spanish Colonial house, which was owned by the general Alonso Diaz. Open every day and is well worth the time to visit.
Next is Santa Catalina Convent and Art Museum, located in Santa Catalina street, the museum was built on top of one of the most important Inka buildings overlooking the plaza, the house of the chosen woman, these woman were devoted to the sun god and spent their days weaving special garments for the Inca ceremonies from Alpaca and Vicuña wool. The museum holds a wonderful collection of religious artworks including paintings from the famous Cusco school.
The Regional History museum in Garcilaso Street has a mix of artifacts from the Cusco region, the house was owned by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, who was a famous Inca- Spanish historian, the museum is worth a visit to marvel at the building and the construction alone.
The museum Machu Picchu is a new museum dedicated to the history of Machu Picchu, the museum houses more than 360 artifacts that were returned to Peru by Yale University in 2011. The museum is a fully restored building in the center of Cusco that has a long history in the Cusco area. It is a great idea to visit this museum before your visit to Machu Picchu, as you will get a great idea of the history of the sacred site.
Qorikancha museum is located next to the Spanish colonial church Santa Domingo, the museum is small but worth a visit, all the exhibits are from the Inca and Pre Inca cultures, you may enter from Sol avenue, this museum is underground so if you suffer from a fear of small closed places the this is not the museum for you.
Another interesting suggestion is the Cacao and Chocolate museum which is in Garciliaso street, here you can not only learn about the history of chocolate but you can participate in cooking classes and learn how to make chocolate and even buy some tasty local chocolate to take home.
All year round there is plenty to do in Cusco with the museums, markets and ruins to visit. There are also many interesting Cusco Festivities to take part in on your trip to Peru. The top attractions of Cusco are easily accessible to you and if you chose to do your trip alone or with a tour company this is all easy as Cusco is geared for tourism.
So why not book a tour to Peru today, but also do not forget about the many museums to help you learn about the history and culture of this wonderful country.