Explore the main square of Cusco and see the cathedral, and then travel back to the days of the Inca Empire at the sacred temples of Sacsayhuaman. Marvel at the Tower of Puca Pucara, seek out the source of the spring waters and more.
Stop At: Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Cusco Region
Walk down the main square of Plaza de Armas known as the "Square of the warrior" in the Inca era, this plaza has been the scene of several important events, such as the proclamation by Francisco Pizarro in the conquest of Cuzco. Similarly, the Plaza de Armas was the scene of the death of Túpac Amaru II, considered the indigenous leader of the resistance.
The Spanish built stone arcades around the plaza which endure to this day. The main cathedral and the Church of La Compañía both open directly onto the plaza.
Stop At: Cusco Cathedral, Cusco, Cusco Region
Visit the Cusco Cathedral also known as Church of the Society of Jesus, whose construction was initiated by the Jesuits in 1576 on the foundations of the Amarucancha or the palace of the Inca ruler Wayna Qhapaq, is considered one of the best examples of colonial baroque style in the Americas.
Its façade is carved in stone and its main altar is made of carved wood covered with gold leaf. It was built over an underground chapel and contains a valuable collection of colonial paintings of the Cusco School.
Stop At: Qorikancha
The Qurikancha ("golden place") was the most important sanctuary dedicated to the Sun God (Inti) at the time of the Inca Empire. According to ancient chronicles written by Garcilaso de la Vega (chronicler), Qurikancha was said to have featured a large solid golden disc that was studded with precious stones and represented the Inca Sun God – Inti. Spanish chroniclers describe the Sacred Garden in front of the temple as a garden of golden plants with leaves of beaten gold, stems of silver, solid gold corn-cobs and 20 life-size llamas and their herders all in solid gold.
The temple was destroyed by its Spanish invaders who, as they plundered, were determined to rid the city of its wealth, idolaters and shrines. Nowadays, only a curved outer wall and partial ruins of the inner temple remain at the site.
With this structure as a foundation, colonists built the Convent of Santo Domingo (St. Dominic) in the Renaissance style. The building, with one baroque tower, exceeds the height of many other buildings in this city. Inside is a large collection of paintings from the Cuzco School.
Stop At: Tambomachay, Cusco, Cusco Region
Visit this archaeological site associated with the Inca Empire, also known as El Baño del Inca ("the bath of the Inca").
It consists of a series of aqueducts, canals, and waterfalls that run through the terraced rocks. The function of the site is uncertain: it may have served as a military outpost guarding the approaches to Cusco, as a spa resort for the Incan political elite, or both.
Stop At: Q'enqo, Cusco, Cusco Region
Visit this archaeological site in the Sacred Valley of Peru located in the Cusco Region, about 6 km northeast of Cusco. The site was declared a Cultural Heritage (Patrimonio Cultural) of the Cusco Region by the National Institute of Culture.
It is one of the largest huacas (holy places) in the Cusco Region. Many huacas were based on naturally occurring rock formations. It was believed to be a place where sacrifices and mummification took place.
Stop At: Sacsayhuaman, Cusco, Cusco Region
Visit this citadel on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco, Peru, the historic capital of the Inca Empire. The complex was expanded and added to by the Inca from the 13th century; they built dry stone walls constructed of huge stones. The workers carefully cut the boulders to fit them together tightly without mortar. The site is at an altitude of 3,701 m (12,142 ft).
In 1983, Cusco and Sacsayhuamán together were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for recognition and protection.
Stop At: Puka Pukara, Cusco, Cusco Region