Top Attractions in Cusco
Top Attractions in Cusco
Boasting of being the archaeological capital of the Americas, the former city of the Inca Empire is known today for finding its way into the Spanish colonies and displaying the old traditional manners perfectly blended with the 21st century. Not letting go of its Andean roots, Cusco, being one of the oldest cities of the continents, has mixed up with the Spanish colonies only to repackage themselves as Peru’s ultimate destination. Lost in the magnificent colonial architecture, countryside villages and historic Inca ruins, the city takes you into the history books of the region to learn a lesson or two with its museums, archaeological sites and monuments. A city for everyone, the adventure enthusiasts can hike to Inca trails, Sacred valley and the world acclaimed Machu Picchu, while the history buffs can gratify their curiosity by visiting the archaeological sites and monuments. The gastronomic scene, however, will definitely leave a foodie’s stomach growling for more. With growing number of visitors every year, the city doesn't fail to surprise anybody with its gorgeous views and appealing environment that goes with the historic Pre-Colombian ruins.
Leaving a massive trail of history behind, the lost Incan civilization of Machu Picchu magnetizes archaeologists, anthropologists and tourists from all corners of the world. Overlooking the Sacred Valley, the ruins of Machu Picchu lying at an altitude of 7,970 feet was founded by Hiram Bingham, an American explorer in 1911 . Erected in the 15th century, this restored site boasts of a typical Incan style architecture featuring man-made terraces and dry stone walls. Being a ritual center during the Incan period, you will encounter the ruins of various temples including the Sun Temple and the Moon Temple, agricultural centers, tombs, thermal baths and other layouts at this classic and well-preserved wonder of the world. If you are an avid hiker, then grab the opportunity to go for one of the most famous hikes of the greatest ruins in the world, where you will find your way through mountains and jungles stretching up to 43 kilometers with an intense altitude of more than 13,800 feet. Traverse the stone paths, rugged alpine valleys, ancient Inca sites and cloud forests on your way to the towering peaks of Machu Picchu in the lost city of Vilcabamba. The best and the fastest option to reach the mountain peak is through a train journey. However, if you are going for a hike, make sure you do so through a registered agency, as the government only allows a certain number of hikers per day. Hiking generally takes about 7-10 days. Make your trip to Machu Picchu even more memorable by clicking a picture with the alpacas.
Revered by many native Peruvians as the mountain spirit, Ausangate or commonly known as Rainbow Mountain is situated at a distance of around 100 kilometers from Cusco. A rare mountain range, it is considered as a cordillera on which life depends. Trek through the sierra and get a glimpse of the shepherd communities and local craftsmen that are secluded in these kaleidoscopic valleys. Once you arrive at the top of the alps, you are sure to be fascinated by the lakes and lush green meadows that are hidden here, along with a peaceful sight of grazing alpacas. The Ausangate glacier at the bottom of the range is surely a sight to behold. The Qoyllur Rit’I Religious Festival celebrated at the foothills in the month of May and attracts more than 10,000 visitors every year.
Note: Ausungate can only be covered by trekking or horse riding, hence taking tours from different agencies is highly recommended.
Plaza De Armas:
Located in the heart of the city, Plaza de Armas surrounds itself many restaurants, bars, and shops that not only act as a social destination but also a meeting point for local and tourists. The Plaza is also home to an exquisite church that holds historical significance. Gaze at the striking architecture in and around Plaza and find yourself a seat to see the Life of Cusco, a movie that is showcased here.
Centro Historico De Cusco:
Wander through the heart of this old city, which was once the capital of the Incan Empire. Boasting of the remains of the old town, you will bump into magnificent churches, colonial-era houses, convents, and the grand cathedral. Spanish architecture has also found a home with many restaurants, bars, traditional handicrafts and souvenirs shops. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the museum to get a glimpse of the rich history of the town.
Twelve Angled Stone:
Considered to be one of the best-known examples of Incan architecture, this popular Twelve Angeled Stone is situated in Cusco's historical center. It is believed that nothing can fit in the crevices of the stones, not even a sheet of paper. It was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is almost always bustling with people.
Note: Do not forget to carry a camera for you would definitely want a photograph.
Catedral del Cuzco:
The cathedral that was built using blocks snatched from the nearby Inca sites of Sacsaywamán, started in the year 1559 and took a century for its completion. This was the first Christian church to be built in the city and holds numerous archaeological relics and artefacts. Boasting of the Gothic-Renaissance style architecture, Cusco Cathedral features colonial artwork and European devotional painting styles complemented by the historic painting in the city, depicting Cusco during the earthquake of 1650. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the church is your one-stop destination for experiencing the enigma of this region.
This historical center of the city will swoon you with its antique homes, cobbled streets and a host of attractions keeping you busy. Boasting of a mixed Incan-Spanish architecture San Blas gives beauteous views of the city and the plaza once you step onto the grounds of its steep hills. Do not forget to buy a little memorabilia from the many souvenirs shops or grab a drink at the many bars and restaurants that surround this attractive destination.
Initially known as Inti Wasi or Inti Kancha, this was one of the most significant places of worship of the Incan Empire, dedicated to the Sun God. One of the richest temples covered with gold walls in the past, today boasts of magnificent stonework. You will encounter the ruins of the church that were built by the Spaniards and further ruined by an earthquake, which had no effect on the Inca stone walls. Pay a visit to Qurikancha's monuments and museums to get into the deep history of the region.
Located 2 kilometers away from Cusco, the historical ruins of Sacsayhuamán exemplify both military and religious significance. This huge structure is left with only 20% of the original ruins and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983. Notice the segments of the walls that are built by the Killke culture around 1100 CE, further expanded by the Incan culture in the 13th century. One will find ruins of many buildings, a large plaza, storage rooms and numerous sites for religious or ceremonial purposes. Sacsayhuaman stands at an elevation of 12,142 feet and offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Sacred Valley of the Incas:
In the bygone world, Sacred Valley was the head of the Incas and today stands as one of the most popular archaeological sites in the world. Trek through the mountainous region and cloudy forests to explore a number of quiet villages and markets that will transport you back in time to the world of Incas. This is one of the highlights of Peru and must not be skipped.