Cusco or also called Cuzco, is a city in the Peruvian Andes that was the capital of the Inca Empire and is known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. The Plaza de Armas is the center of the ancient city, with galleries, carved wooden balconies and ruins of Inca walls. The convent of Santo Domingo, in the baroque style, was built on the Temple of the Inca Sun (Qoricancha) and has archaeological remains of Inca stonework:
Plaza de Armas & Cusco Cathedral
Cusco’s Plaza de Armas is the cultural center of the city. Lining the plaza are restaurants, bars and coffee shops – many with a great view of the city – perfect for spending an afternoon people-watching and acclimating to Cusco’s elevation. At the heart of the plaza lies a manicured garden and intricate statue of the Incan ruler Pachacuti. Those willing to venture from the sun-soaked benches will appreciate a tour of Cusco’s massive cathedral, complete with a trip into the crypts. Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption is the red-stoned building which faces on to Plaza de Armas
The San Blas area oozes with laid-back vibes where musicians play and artists sell crafts around Plaza San Blas. Accommodation in this area tends to be a little cheaper than the chain types which you will see pop up at all stops
San Pedro Market
San Pedro Market is a spectacle to behold, filled with fruit, vegetable and meat stands, as well as 30 stalls serving freshly squeezed juices. A lack of refrigeration means products are displayed open-air, and the freshest items are sold first thing, so come early if you’re wanting to buy. For lunch, the market hosts a number of empanada and tamale vendors, as well as food stalls that serve a menú – a two-course meal – at a very reasonable price. If you’re struggling with the altitude, pick up a bag of coca leaves here to suck on.
A visit to Cusco Planetarium is just about looking at the stars. One of the best things to do in Cusco at night, this family-run tour is an educational lesson as well as star gazing. Cusco is the spiritual home of the Inca civilisation. A thoroughly impressive culture, almost 10 million strong. Keeping this amount of people fed in the modern day is no easy feat but these guys managed it in the middle of the Andean mountains, at 4000m above sea level on rough/uneven terrain.
A 45-minute walk from the city center, this ancient Inca site is worth the trek for both the stunning views of Cusco and the incredible stonework. Sacsayhuaman (easily remembered by its pronunciation ‘sexy woman’) was a religious site as well as the scene of a bloody battle between Inca forces and the Spanish conquistadors. Hire a guide for a small fee, or purchase a city tour that includes the site for a complete explanation of the history of Sacsayhuaman. Valuable as a precursor to Machu Picchu and sites in the surrounding Sacred Valley, a walk to Sacsayhuaman also includes a glimpse of Cristo Blanco – the massive statue of Christ that stands above the city
Korikancha combines the Spanish and Incan influences in Cusco. Once lined with lavish gold, this Inca Temple of the Sun was ransacked and destroyed by the Spanish before they built the Church of Santo Domingo on the site of the ruins. Today, the contrast between the church and temple foundation is striking, making for one of the more interesting sites in Cusco. Visitors can walk through the Spanish and Inca sections and take in the once-spectacular garden. What was once the region’s holiest site now serves as a testament to the brutal conquest of indigenous people and its after-effects.
Located in a beautiful 16th-century colonial mansion that was once home to Spanish Admiral Francisco Alderete Maldonado, the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) boasts an eclectic assortment of Incan artifacts. From textiles to pottery to gold and metal pieces, the museum will intrigue visitors who want an introduction to Incan culture and history. Once you’ve finished admiring the traditional items inside, take a stroll to through the museum’s courtyard, where Andean women can often be found selling goods and weaving authentic textiles. Recent visitors said the displays and exhibits are interesting, but noted that many don't include English translations and finding a guide may enhance the experience. Still, reviewers say for the cheap admission, a visit is worth it. If you're still interested in seeing more artifacts, check out the Museo de Arte Precolombino that's located one block east.