Located in the middle of the Peruvian Andes is the ancient home of the Inca Civilization, Cusco. The city is famous for its spectacular main square, cobbled streets, and houses with terracotta tile roofs that will remind you of some ancient European villages. One of the most outstanding facts is its unique architecture in the world. The architecture could be considered a mixture of Inca and Spanish influences. Fortunately, there are many great things to see in the city of Cusco in addition to its particular architectural style. Therefore, together with the travel experts of Machu Travel Peru, we have prepared a small article. Where we seek to delve into why to visit Cusco city. So let us take you through some of the Cusco travel attractions on offer.
Some incredible reasons to visit Cusco
- A beautiful main square to behold
- Get to know the architecture
- Exploring ancient fortresses
- Many museums to visit
- Free guided tours of the city
- Tourism in the city
- Lovely markets where to buy
- It has incredible views
- Try the excellent food
A BEAUTIFUL MAIN SQUARE TO BEHOLD
To find out where you are, you should always start in the main square, called Plaza de Armas. According to legend in Inca times, the plaza was twice the size that can be seen today. It was the heart of Cusco in Inca times and it still is in contemporary times. Being able to know the square is reason enough to visit Cusco. Most tours in Peru usually start in the main square. So it is a great idea to get to know this important site. And the Plaza is surrounded by some buildings that are worth a visit. First of all, there are some impressive buildings to appreciate around the main Plaza.
One of them is the Cathedral of Cusco, which started in 1559 and took almost a hundred years to finish. The Cathedral is the main church in Cusco and one of the best examples of colonial architecture in the city. Also, the church has an impressive collection of Spanish art that deserves your attention. The other church that appears in the main square is La Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus. The church is built on the foundations of the palace of Huayna Capac, one of those last Incas. The church was built by the Jesuits, and work began in 1571. The most impressive feature of La Compañía is the incredible Baroque façade with two majestic bell towers.
GET TO KNOW THE ARCHITECTURE
The best example of Inca architecture in Cusco is the Coricancha. The Coricancha was once considered the richest and most popular temple in Cusco. In the time of the Incas, it was completely covered in gold sheets. The temple featured many life-size gold figures. Today all that remains is the masonry that is still visible. All the gold and precious stones and metal were taken by the Spanish. Who later built the Church of Santo Domingo on the same site as the temple. Being able to visit Cusco without exploring this place is a waste of time.
If you move away from the main square towards the neighborhood of San Blas and you will see the 12-angle stone. This is said to be the only stone found with so many angles. Besides, it is an example of the great masonry skill of the Incas. Continue past the stone up a steep hill and you will reach the small village of San Blas. This also has a charming little church that features an ornate gold altar. The church is worth visiting for its beautiful entrance and facade. Also, San Blas has many excellent restaurants to sample the local cuisine. If you are a vegetarian, you won’t have a hard time finding good options either.
EXPLORING ANCIENT FORTRESSES
On a Cusco city tour, you will surely travel outside of the city to the Inca site of Sacsayhuaman. This fairly large site has an impressive view of the city of Cusco. Even today the exact purpose of the ruin is still unknown, but it is believed to have had great religious and military significance. According to historians, Sacsayhuaman was the scene of a fierce battle between the Incas and the Spanish. Many Inca lives were lost at the site. But despite this, today you can tour a wonderful walled fortress with some impressive examples of construction. The Inca fortress has a particular zigzag shape that is said to form the teeth of a puma. Today, Sacsayhuaman is one of the best archaeological sites in Cusco to enjoy with the family.
MANY MUSEUMS TO VISIT
There are also many incredible museums to discover on your visit to Cusco. One of them is the Q’orikancha Archaeological Museum. This is a small museum located near the Santo Domingo Church, perfect to complement your visit to Coricancha. The museum features many exhibits from the Inca and Pre Inca cultures. Then, you can continue to the Regional History Museum. This impressive museum is located in the colonial house, Casa Garcilaso de la Vega. This museum also has artifacts from the Inca and pre-Inca cultures. In addition to some historical details of great importance. Visiting the different museums in Cusco is a great opportunity to learn about the rich history of the city. After enjoying the different museums, you can check our amazon tours from Cusco.
FREE GUIDED TOURS OF THE CITY
In case you are on a budget, don’t worry, there are many free things to enjoy in the Imperial City. And one of them is the free walking tour in Cusco. If you were looking for reasons to visit Cusco, this is a very good one. The tour begins at Plaza Regocijo, two blocks from the main square. It usually starts at 10:20 AM, although it may depend. It is a free walking tour in Cusco. You can also make reservations online if you wish. But most just show up and look for the people with the green jackets and flags. These guides are the ones who will take you on your journey through the city of Cusco.
The tour begins by heading to the San Pedro market. From the market, you will return to the main square and see the beautiful churches while your guide will explain the history of the square. There, you can go up to some very steep stairs to San Blas. From San Blas, you will return to the square and go down the main street. The commercial street of Cusco is called Avenida Sol. Here you will find some banks and money exchange places. Also, the Palace of Justice is located on Avenida Sol and is an imposing white building that is located in almost a whole block. Further down the avenue, you will also find the Corichanca.
TOURISM IN THE CITY
The Cusco tourist map has a lot to offer the foreigner traveler. The city is full of wonderful examples of the Inca culture. Cusco also has everything you need to spend your vacation in comfort and style. From luxury five-star hotels in impressive colonial houses to affordable backpacker accommodation, there is no shortage of where to stay. Besides, the city is known for its excellent restaurants for all tastes. Sample local food at one of the top-notch restaurants or if you prefer, eat international food, there is no shortage of both. For the young and young at heart, there is no shortage of nightlife in the city of Cusco. Dance the night away in one of the many clubs that offer local, salsa, or international music. You will definitely find many things to do in Cusco.
LOVELY MARKETS WHERE TO BUY
The San Pedro market is one of the largest and most popular in the city. This market is a place that you have to explore if you visit Cusco. You can easily spend a whole day exploring it in its different positions. There you will find everything from alpaca sweaters to fresh fruit smoothies and everything in between. On the one hand, you will find traditional food stalls and many other places with different products. You can choose to go there to enjoy a truly traditional meal. On the other hand, you will be surrounded by a maze of trinkets and clothes. So if you want to buy some souvenirs, it is one of the best places.
IT HAS INCREDIBLE VIEWS
No matter where you are in Cusco, you will always have an incredible view available. Almost all shops, cafes, and hotels in Cusco use large windows to fill in the walls, thus making the most of the surrounding landscapes. Stop at any restaurant or cafe in the city and you will have a view not to be missed. Think red tile roofs dotted with endless mountains, these roofs are set against the vivid green landscape. Being able to visit Cusco is spectacular.
TRY THE EXCELLENT FOOD
There is no denying that Peru has the best food in the world. Although Cusco is not the gastronomic capital of South America like Lima, its culinary field is certainly surprising. Not only can you find traditional Andean and Peruvian cuisine in Cusco, but you can also find a wide variety of international cuisine. Although you might think that enjoying local food is the way to go, it would be a mistake to miss out on other delicacies in the city. If you are adventurous, you can try Cuy (also known as guinea pig), an iconic dish from the Andes. Alpaca is another dish not to be missed. You can even use the latter as a pizza topping.
“WITHOUT NEW EXPERIENCES, SOMETHING INSIDE US SLEEPS. THE SLEEPER MUST AWAKEN.”
As you will see, the reasons to visit Cusco are many. We seek to list those characteristic reasons that make the Imperial City unique. Likewise, this is just a small glimpse of everything you can enjoy and experience in Cusco. We believe that to understand how incredible it is, you need to visit it on your own. We hope together with Machu Travel Peru to have been helpful. If you want to know more about this city, you can consult with our qualified team of advisers. They will be happy to help you fulfill the trip of your dreams.