Latin America Travel & Tour Information
Cusco Travel Information
Cusco hosts such a wonderful cultural spectrum and everywhere you look you´ll find the Inca legacy coated with Spanish influence. Nightlife in Cusco teems with options: bars for an early drink and discos for a late night, plus an attractive choice of restaurants. Cusco's treasures include museums and churches found within the city, and this is complemeneted by a wide choice of day-trips around the city. In addition, several traditional and religious celebrations like the Inti Raimi (The Sun Festival) take place here, in which the locals recreate ancient Inca rituals relating to the sun.
There are many a places worth a visit: the Plaza del Armas (main square), the cathedral which features renaissance-styled wood carvings, the Jesuits Temple and the main market. San Blas neighborhood is by far the most picturesque and lies close to the plaza del Armas. Its narrow and steep alleys harbour the best views of the city. You will be amazed by the incredible Inca stone carvings whlie strolling through town as several buildings still feature these works on their walls.
A day trip to some of the ancient Inca ruins that dot the city´s outskirts is a must: Qenko, Tambomachay and Pukapukara. But the most outstanding of all is no doubt that of Sacsaywamán, a sanctuary located near the city of Cusco where the Incas performed their religious ceremonies. The huge carved rocks show the architectonic grandeur of this civilazation. Many different excursions can be taken from Cusco, which range from visits to the Incas Sacred Valley, and other less known but as interesting archeological sites, to a trip to the Peruvian Amazon Jungle, including Manu National Park which offers a unique jungle experience. It is wise to purchase a Cusco Visitors pass which includes entrance the main city sights: archeological sites, museums and churches.
Plaza de Armas
This is the city core, dating back to Inca days. Its relaxing ambiance invites you to sit and slowly take in the surroundings. The square is flanked by colonades and four churches, stores, numerous restaurants, bars and discoteques. The square is the major venue for some of the religious celebrations.
Located to the north side of the Plaza de Armas.
Open Monday to Sunday: 10am - 12m and 3pm - 6pm.
It was built during the 17th century on the grounds of the former Inca Viracocha Palace. It treasures in its chapel amazing paintings by all bishops of Cusco, plus one thought to be by Van Dyck. A remarkable thing is a 'Last Supper' painting, displaying an array of typical Peruvian dishes like guinea pigs and chicha.
The Jesuit Temple
Eatern side of the Plaza de Armas
Erected on the grounds of the ancient Palace of the Serpents (Amaru-Cancha) towards the end of the 17th century. It stands out for its elegant spires and finely decorated interior displaying mural paintings and hand-carved altars.
Three blocks from the Plaza de Armas
This is an austere church that reflects much of the aboriginal influences. The monastery lies under restoration.
Santo Domingo (Coriconcha Temple)
Three blocks from the Plaza de Armas.
Open everyday, 9am- 12m and 3pm - 5pm.
Built in the 17th century using the walls of the Inca Temple of the Sun as its foundations, which can still be admired inside the convent, thanks to the amazing restoration works. Recent excavations uncovered the five galeries of the original temple that show in greater degree the Inca stone carvings in Cusco. The finest carvings sit on the bended wall to the western end of the convent. Rumor has it that there were gold and silver statue depicting plants and fruits under this wall.
Just one block away from the Plaza de Armas.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 8am - 2pm.
It holds one of the most impressive collections of pre-columbiam art, together with 18th-century Spanish paintings portraying the Inca Royal family and a rich display of ancient outfits. Do not miss the gold treasures and 40 pre-Inca turquoise miniatures, found in Piquillacta.
Religious Art Museum
Ocupying the space of the former Palace of the Archbishop on Hatun Rumyoc street.
Open Monday to Saturday, 9:30am - 12m and 3pm - 6pm.
The museum shows a fine collection of colonial paintings, including those by the indigenous master Diego Quispe Tito, about the 17th-century proccessions and Corpus Christi celebrations in Santa Ana church.
Regional Historical Museum
Fitted in Garcilaso House on Girón Garcilaso and Herederos streets.
Open Monday toFriday, 9am - 12m and 3pm - 6pm. Saturday, 9am - 12m
It documents the evolution of Cusco´s Fine Arts School. It also features Inca agricultural tools, colonial furniture paintings, a small fotographic exhibit and paraphernalia from a more recent era.
Located 3 km on the route to Cachimayo.
Open everyday 6:30pm - 11pm
It offers an excellent view of Cusco and the Sacred Valley, which makes for a very pleasant dinner at its restaurant.
Cusco Central Market
In front of San Pedro Station on Santa Clara street.
It is by far the best local market for its wide choice of indigenous items, even cheaper than in Pisac, though less colorful. A good piece of advice: best prices surface in the late afternoon and rainy days.
Northern side of Cusco, past St. Christopher´s Church
This site is an enourmous santuary on the mountains to the northern end outside of town. It is only a 30 minute walk to get there, but it could be a bit difficult because of the elevated location. The Inca stones in its walls are far bigger than even the most impresive ones in Machu Picchu. These gigantic rocks, sometimes as heavy as 130 tons, have been so perfectly placed and aligned. The premises consist of three 360m-long parallel walls and 21 bastions, all of them formed by masterfully carved stones. For a long time, Sacsaywamán was thought to have been a fortress, but its layout and architecture suggest more a big temple and sanctuary dedicated to the God Sun. In fact, the sun rises exactly opposite an altar (supposedly an Inca throne), made out of finely carved stones.
The Route form Sacsaywamán to Pisac
This stretch is best taken whith a tour, it boasts several ruins along the way, amid a barren but attractive landscape. The ruins at Qenco feature a temple and an amphitheater, which are considered some of the best examples of Inca stone carvings, especially on the hollow stone on top of which lies an altar. Further on, there is Cusillyuioc, full of Inca caves and tunnels inside the mountains (torch recommended), and Puka Pukara, an Inca fortress with breath-taking vistas. The sanctuary at Tambo Machay, is also in excellent condition for a visit. Water still flows here through a hidden canal that leads into a wall, formed by a small stone mound known as the 'Inca Bath'. However, archeologists consider that it was more of a water shrine than a bath itself. It is recommended to take a guided tour here, plus the best photos are taken during the mornings.
Tipón, Lucre and Piquillacta
Located around Cusco´s outskirts
It is easier to take a taxi or a tour to visit these ruins. Tipón, situated in between the villages of Saylla and Oropesa, preserves the ruins of ancient baths, agricultural terraces and an intrincate temple, whose access is a path that leads to the last terrace. In Lucre, 3 km away from Huarcapay, there is an interesting textile mill and many unexplored ruins. Piquillacta used to be a pre-Inca settlement, from which some temples such as that of the Monkey and Rumicolca stood the test of time. It is quite a large archeological complex and some of its sections are under restoration nowadays.
A recreation of the Inca festival on the winter solstice. It all begins at 1pm by Sacsaywaman fort. However, it would be good to arrive in Sacsaywaman around 10:30am before it gets crowded. Tickets for the festival are available in town one week in advance, but the higher spots on the ruins are free. Get there early and secure your place! On the eve of the Inti Raimi, the Plaza de Armas teems with processions and food stalls.
Saints Procession in the San Sebastián District
Carnival in Cusco, colorful and fun. Wear old clothing items since there will be showers of flour, water, cactus, and rotten fruits,plus animal droppings on the streets.
The Master of Quakes Procession
Monday before Easter
It starts at 4pm outside the Cathedral. A large cross is carried around the streets and back at 8pm to bless the congregation.
The Wake of the Cross
It takes place on Corpus Christi´s day, Thursday after Trinity Sunday in June
Several statues are carried around the streets. It is a highly colorful feast and normally everybody gets drunk. The Plaza de Armas is the venue to try the local indigenous cuisine, based on guinea pigs and a very special meal only made for this celebration, named 'Chiriuchu'. It consists of guinea pig, chicken, tortillas, fish roe, algae, maíze, cheese and sausagge. Worthy of a try!!!