Province of Cusco
Main Square, Cusco
During the Inca Empire, the square was called Huacaypata, a Quechua word meaning “places of tears” or “meaning places”. It was an important ceremonial spot where the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun was celebrated every year. It is also the place where Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cusco. After the Spanish arrived, the plaza changed. They erected stone arches and build structures that surround it today.
Cathedral of Cusco
The building went through two construction stages: first, the Chapel of the Triumph was built on top of what used to be the temple Suntar Wasi (House of God); later, the cathedral itself was built over the remains of the palace of Inca Wiracocha. A Renaissance building in its majority, the interior decoration is rich in cedar and alder woodcarvings. The choir and the pulpit stand out for their beauty. An important collection of paintings from the Cusco School and silver wrought pieces are also kept there.
Templo de la compañía de Jesús (Church of the Company of Jesus Christ)
The original building was raised in 1571 on the grounds of the ancient palace of Inca Huayna Capac, the Amarucancha. After the earthquake of 1650, it was rebuilt around 1688. The design and the façade are examples of Andean Baroque. The retable style entrance is decorated with medium size towers and the stonewalls are carefully worked. Once inside, the triple bodied upper altar with salomonic columns, the wooden pulpit, and numerous Baroque, Plataresque, and Churrigueresque shrines catch the eye. The most remarkable work of art s “El matrimonio de Martin Garcia de Loyola con Beatriz Clara Coya” (The Wedding of Martin Garcia de Loyola with Beatriz Clara Coya).
Barrio San Blas (San Blas Neightborhood)
It is one of the most picturesque areas in all of Cusco. It is called T’oqokachi or Salt Hole and is characterized by narrow, steep streets and beautiful Colonial houses. It is also known as the Artisans Neighborhood. In San Blas many families accommodate guests in their homes.
Church of San Blas
Founded in 1560 during the Colonial period, it features a masterpiece in its wood carved Baroque pulpit, attributed to the Indigenous artist, Diego Quispe Tito.
Church and Convent of La Merced
The Baroque church was built between 1657 and 1680. The sacristy holds its most precious treasure: an impressive gold and gemstones encrusted monstrance, 1.3 meters/ 3 feet high and of 22 kilos. It is crowned with one large mermaid shaped pearl, considered the second largest in the world.
Church and Convent of Santo Domingo / Koricancha
The Koricancha was one of the most impressive buildings of Inca Cusco according to the historians; the glowing gilding of the interior walls illuminated what used to be the main temple dedicated to the worship of the Sun God. The Spanish build the church and Dominican convent on top of the original structure around 1534 but they collapsed during the earthquake of 1650 and were rebuilt around 1681. The convent possesses an art gallery of valuable seventeenth and eighteenth century canvasses.
Church and Convent of Santa Catalina
These two buildings were raised in 1605 on what used to be the Acllahuasi or House of the Chosen Women (Acllas were women designated to accomplish especial tasks for the Inca). The architecture is late Renaissance and is characterized by the Roman arches. Inside, you can still see traces of the original construction. There is also an exhibition room for murals, fine metal works, textiles, sculptures, and altarpieces.
Santa Catalina Museum
Here they exhibit paintings, textiles, woodcarvings, and Colonial altarpieces. The best among them are Diego Quispe Tito’s paintings, the Arcade carpet, and religious ornaments made of gold and silver threads.
Church and Convent of San Francisco
Founded in 1645, it has two facades and a single, old Spanish style stone tower. The monumental painting, 12 x 9 meters / 39 x 30 feet, by Juan Espinoza de los Monteros relating the genealogy of the Franciscan family is the highlight of the convent.
Palacio Arzobispal y Piedra de los Doce Ángulos (Archbishop’s House and the Twelve-Angle Stone)
This Vice-royal building with Arabic influence was raised on the foundations of the palace of Inca Roca. Presently, it is the main centre of the Museum of Religious Art. On Calle Hatunrumiyoc, you can see an old Inca wall that was part of the Inca Roca palace and demonstrates the admirable construction skill of the Inca in terms of polished and perfectly places stones. The most remarkable part is the “Twelve-Angle Stone”, famous for the perfect work and assembling of its angles.
Palacio del Almirante (Admiral’s Palace)
It is an old mansion, which today is the site of the Inca Museum. It contains an important archeological collection that includes ceramic, fine metal, and textile pieces as well as mummies.
House of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega
Born on April 12, 1539, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega was the son of the Spanish Captain Garcilaso de la Vega y Vargas and the Cusco princess, Chimpu Ocllo. He is the author of two works, “Comentarios Reales” (Royal Commentaries) and “La Florida del Inca” (The Inca Flower), both motivated by the necessity to recover the history of the Inca Empire. The house is the current location of the Regional Historical Museum that contains a collection of canvasses from the Cusco School.
Larco Museum of Pre-Colombian Art
The mansion that shelters the museum was Kancha Inca 1450, the house of the Conquistador Alonso Díaz in 1580, the home of Count de la Cabrera in 1850, and was completely restored to become the Museum of Pre-Colombian Art in June 2003. In its 11 rooms, 450 works of art are displayed that date from 1250 B.C. to 1532 A.D. These were selected from a group of 45.000 objects belonging to the collection of the Larco Archeological Museum in Lima.
Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex
The area contains thirty-three archeological sites. The most famous is Fort Sacsayhuaman. It might well have been a religious structure, but for its location and style, the Spanish and the historians believe it was military construction. The most important temple in Hanan Qosqo or Upper Cusco might have been located there, dedicated to Andean cosmology and to the worship of the Inti (sun), the Quilla (moon), Chaska (stars), Illapa (ray), and other divinities. It is described as massive for the size of some of its stones, which weigh between 90 and 120 tons. This is also the stage of the Inti Raymi of Festival of the Sun every 24th June.
Qenko Archeological Complex
The Qenko or “labyrinth” might date from around 1500 A.D. It is considered a holy place where ceremonies honoring the sun, moon, and the stars used to take place.
Pukapukara Archeological Complex
The complex contains several rooms, inner plazas, aqueducts, vantage points, and pathways. It might have served as a tambo or rest and lodging area. According to the tale, each time the Inca was able to go to Tambomachay, he would be accompanied by a large cortege, which stayed at Pukapukara, It is also called a fort because of its fortified-city appearance.
Tambomachay Archeological Complex
Tambomachay might have fulfilled an important religious function linked to water and regeneration of the land. Some scholars believe it was built around 1500 A.D. closely linked with Pukapukara. The area covers about one hectare, and was made out of polygonal shaped set limestone.
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
It was part of the Inca highway system (Qhpaq Ñan) and is one the most important South American trekking routers. Along the hike, you can see several gorges and streams that originate from glaciers. There are twelve archeological monuments along the traeil, such as Qoriwachayrachina, Patallaqta, Runkueaqay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Intipunku, Intipata, and Wiñayhuayna.
The starting point of the trip varies according to the trail you wish to take. The most popular route stars around kilometer marker 82 of the railroad Cusco – Machu Picchu (40 km / 25 miles from citadel itself). Another possibility, shorter in time, is called the Sacred Trail, and begins at kilometer marker 104 of the railroad.
Awanakancha South American Camelids Theme Park
Camelids such as llamas, vicuñas and alpacas are to be seen there in their native environment. They also demonstrate how to make clothing from the wool fibers of the animals. In addition, you can see native flowers and some Inca-built agricultural terraces.