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10 Things to see absolutely in Cusco in Peru

Cusco, Imperial City, Archaeological Capital of America. There are many names by which this city in Peru is referred to, included in any itinerary of an organized trip to this beautiful country. And it is not difficult to understand why: in addition to the beauty of the city, this is the perfect base for visiting the surroundings, which include some of the most beautiful and well-known archaeological sites, such as the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. While walking through the streets of the city you will come across many agencies that organize tours and excursions of different lengths to explore the area, there is really spoiled for choice.
But before going to Machu Picchu, here are some tips for you 10 things to see absolutely in Cusco in Peru.



Index

  1. Parade ground
  2. Cuzco Cathedral
  3. Inka Museum
  4. Coricancha
  5. Mercado Central de San Pedro
  6. Machu Picchu Casa Concha Museum
  7. Sacsayhuaman
  8. Piedra de los 12 ángulos
  9. Montaña de los 7 colores
  10. Sacred Valley of the Incas
  11. Plan your stay in Cusco: flights, hotels and tours
  12. User questions and comments

1 - Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas, also called Plaza Mayor, is the center of Cusco, the meeting point for locals and tourists and the real heart of the city. Furthermore, it is a fundamental place from a historical point of view: during the Inca Empire, when Cusco was the capital of the Empire, this square was the administrative, religious and cultural center; here, moreover, in 1781 Tupac Amaru II, a warrior symbol of the Inca revolution to the Spanish colonization, was executed, considered a true hero of the struggle for the independence of Peru and for the rights of indigenous peoples.
Nowadays, Plaza de Armas is full of clubs, restaurants and travel agencies to organize day trips around the city. Some of the most important buildings and churches overlook the square.



  • city ​​center - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

2 - Catedral del Cuzco

The Catedral del Cuzco, also known as Catedral Basilica de la Virgen de la Asuncion, is the main church of the city and the seat of the Archdiocese of Cuzco. It was built in 1539 on the foundations of the Inca Kiswarkancha temple, the palace of Viracocha, the Emperor who reigned over the Incas a century before the arrival of the Spaniards.

The Cathedral that we can still see today is the work of numerous works undertaken between 1560 and 1664. The style used is a mix of features of Baroque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. In 1928 it was recognized as a Minor Basilica of the Catholic Church and in 1983 it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today it is one of the most visited attractions by tourists and one of the symbols of the city.

  • Northeast side of Plaza de Armas - Get directions
  • open every day from 10: 00 to 18: 00
  • 16 PEN (about € 4,31)

3 - Inka Museum

When you are in Cusco you should definitely visit the Inka Museum, considered one of the most beautiful in the city. Located behind the Catedral Del Cuzco, before being a museum it was one of the most beautiful colonial houses in Cusco. It was built in the early 1643th century at the behest of the Spanish lieutenant Francisco Aldrete Maldonado, who lived there until his death in 1950. Inca stones were used to build the building. After the earthquake of it was restored by the Sant'Antonio Abad University of Cusco. Nowadays here you can get to know and see more of what remains of the Inca people: you can admire a vast collection of keros, or ceremonial vases carved in wood; fabrics of various types and colors; still well preserved mummies; various types of weapons, tools and ceramics used in everyday life, as well as many other archaeological pieces of the Inca culture.



  • Ataud 154; 180 meters from Plaza de Armas; 3 minutes walk - Get directions
  • Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 18:00; Saturday from 9:00 to 16:00; closed on Sunday
  • 10 PEN (about € 2,70)

4 - Coricancha

Coricancha, in the Quechua language Qurikancha, is also known as the Temple of the Sun and it was the most important temple of the Inca Empire and it was dedicated to Inti, the Sun God.
In the main sanctuary there was a large gold disc representing the Sun God and all around the mummies of the old rulers were preserved. The temple was a real meeting point for the Inca civilization: the sarcedoti here celebrated the religious sacrifices and organized the sacred dances. In the center was a beautiful garden with trees, flowers, animals and people reproduced in full size in gold.

In the th century the Spaniards destroyed the Temple to build the Church of Santo Domingo over the base, integrating the Inca architecture into the colonial structure. Over the years, the Church was seriously damaged due to the various earthquakes, while the base remained solid and whole, you can still admire it today.

  • Santo Domingo s / n; 650 meters from Plaza de Armas; 8 minute walk - Get directions
  • from Monday to Saturday from 8:30 to 17:30; closed on Sunday
  • 15 PEN (about € 4,00)

5 - Mercado Central de San Pedro

In South America, the best place to meet and interact with the inhabitants of a city is without a doubt the market, or markets, in most cases. In Cusco we recommend that you visit the Mercado Central de San Pedro, a few minutes away from the Plaza de Armas. This market is a real riot of life and colors. Most of the stalls sell food, including fruit and vegetables, while others prepare freshly made juices or hot dishes. This place is perfect for tasting true Peruvian cuisine. But not just food: here, in fact, you can hear people who still speak the Quechua language, you can admire the beautiful typical clothes, admire the handicrafts and the techniques used to create the various objects.



  • in Cascaparo s / n; 800 meters away from Plaza de Armas; 8 minute walk - Get directions
  • Monday to Thursday from 6:00 to 20:00; Friday and Saturday from 6:00 to 19:00; Sunday from 6:00 to 18:00
  • free
  • Cusco: ancient Incas sites and market with local guide

6 - Machu Picchu Casa Concha Museum

Before going to Machu Picchu, because we know that you will absolutely go there, you cannot miss a visit to the Machu Picchu Casa Concha Museum. The museum is located inside Casa Concha, built over the ancient site of Puka Marka, the residence of the Inca royal family Tupac Inka Yupanqui. This building was also damaged due to the various earthquakes that hit the town and what you can see today is the result of various reconstructions and restoration work.

The museum's collection contains 350 intact pieces and more than 45.000 remains or small pieces broken pottery and various utensils used by the Inca people, plus bones, metals, rocks and stones found during the excavation of Machu Picchu in 1912. Also, the museum also displays 117 partial human skeletons. When entering the patio, pay attention to the floor: in one place there is an open excavation, covered by a glass plate, and six meters below you can see the remains of the Inca floor.

  • in Santa Catalina Ancha; 290 meters from Plaza de Armas; 4 minute walk - Get directions
  • from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 to 17:00; closed on Sunday
  • 20 PEN (about € 5,40)

7 - Sacsayhuamán

The fortress of Sacsayhuamán, a name that literally means "satisfied hawk" is beyond doubt one of the most mysterious places in all of America, if not the most mysterious. It was built between 1438 and 1500, under the dominion of the Inca Emperor Pachacutec. It is not yet known what the purpose of this immense archaeological site was, initially it was thought it was used as a fortress, later as a ceremonial center, a more correct hypothesis. But the biggest question, to which there is still no answer today, is how the Inca people were able to build these immense walls, formed by rocks with a weight ranging from 100 to 300 tons, wedged together with millimeter precision, in an area of ​​about 3.093 hectares.
Every year in this place, during the Summer Solstice, the Inti Raimi is celebrated, the feast of the Sun God and, for the occasion, rituals dating back to the Inca era are also held.

  • 750 meters from Plaza de Armas, across via Don Bosco; About 14 minutes on foot - Get directions
  • every day from 7: 00 to 17: 30
  • 70 PEN (about € 18,80)
  • Cusco: ancient Incas sites and market with local guide

8 - Piedra de los 12 ángulos

The Piedra de los 12 angulos, in Cusco, is as famous as Machu Picchu and the Inca trail. In addition to being one of the symbols of the city and one of the most visited attractions, is considered a National Cultural Heritage of Peru. It is located in one of the walls of Hatun Rumiyoc street and currently forms part of a wall of the Archbishop's Palace of Cusco. This huge stone, estimated to weigh 600 tons, it is the demonstration of how precise and perfect the Inca architecture was, considered the most significant pre-Columbian architecture in all of South America. It is so perfect that the stones fit together so well that they leave no space, adapting themselves in an impeccable way to their surroundings. According to experts, if the stone were to be removed, all the construction that rests on it would fall!

  • Calle Hatunrumiyoc 480; 350 from Plaza de Armas; 5 minutes walk - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

9 - Montaña de los 7 colores

Probably, the first photos you will have seen of Peru, after those of Machu Picchu, are those of the Montaña de los 7 colores, known by us as the Rainbow Mountains, even if the geographical name of the mountain is Vinicunca.
Here, this place, at 5.200 meters above sea level, it is approximately 140 kilometers away from Cusco, from which many day trips are organized every day. And we tell you to take advantage of it and discover this fantastic, almost unreal place. The beautiful colors are given by materials such as iron, dolomite, sulfur, copper and hematite that were deposited millions of years ago.

But be careful: reaching the place is not easy, you have to face a fairly demanding trekking route and the altitude of 5.200 meters doesn't help at all. And, most importantly, the route must be tackled with a specialized guide.

  • 140 kilometers from Cusco, reachable by one of the many organized tours that depart from the city - Get directions
  • times followed by the tour
  • tour starting from € 40,00
  • Cusco: Rainbow Mountain Full-Day Tour Rainbow Mountains: Trekking from Cuzco Rainbow Mountain: Full-Day Trekking with Meals

10 - Sacred Valley of the Incas

The Sacred Valley of the Incas is located just 56 kilometers from Cusco and many scholars believe that this area was the heart of the Inca Empire.
The valley includes the territory that goes from Calca and Lamay, Pisa and Ollantaytambo and was formed over the centuries thanks to the action of the Urubamba River, in Quechua Wilcamayu, which means Sacred River.
The things to see are so many and all incredible, if you have little time you will have to select them according to your priorities. The most beautiful places are: Ollantaytambo, an archaeological site built around 1440 at an altitude of 2.800 meters, still today one wonders how the Inca managed to transport boulders of 50 tons up here; the Saline di Maras which offer a truly suggestive spectacle; the circular and concentric terraces of Moray, which form a kind of huge amphitheater.

  • 56 kilometers from Cusco, reachable by one of the many organized tours that depart from the city - Get directions
  • times followed by the tour
  • tour starting from € 40,00
  • Sacred Valley: full-day tour from Cusco with lunch Sascra Valley: quad bike tour of Maras and Moray from Cusco

Plan your stay in Cusco: flights, hotels and tours

Cusco is not an expensive city, indeed, it is within everyone's reach. What will heavily affect your budget is the purchase of the plane ticket, which is usually around € 800,00. Hotels and b & bs are cheap, you will easily find offers at € 20,00 per night per room. We recommend that you look for accommodation in the historic center of the city, as you will be close to the main attractions and because this is the area from which all tours for excursions outside of Cusco depart, in many cases the tour includes pick-up from hotel if located in the historic center area.

  • Flights starting from € 830,00 -
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 20,00 per room -
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