Cusco’s colonial charm, Incan history, surrounding Sacred Valley and, not least, proximity to Machu Picchu combine to make it Peru’s tourism capital. With great food options and lots to see, the city is an excellent trip hub despite its 3,400 metre-high elevation. I was based there for three weeks in July and August 2016.
Cusco’s central Plaza de Armas including the imposing cathedral
Also known as Cuzco, Cusco was capital of the Inca Empire for almost a century until conquered by the Spanish conquistadors in 1533. The Spanish destroyed the original structures and replaced them with the colonial city, often building on Incan foundations.
A statue of former Incan ruler Pachacuti tops a fountain in Cusco’s Plaza de Armas
With Xindi and Rich at the Healing House, San Blas, Cusco
The top of the impressive Arco Santa Clara (Santa Clara Arch); the arch lies between Plaza de Armas and Mercado San Pedro
Tourists pose (and pay) for photos with local women and alpacas
Central Cusco is extremely touristy and full of shops and people selling tours, souvenirs, meals, massages and photos with alpacas.
A souvenir stall alley; the rainbow flag represents Andean indigenous and is also the official flag of Cusco
A rainbow in non-flag form shining over Cusco
An old cobbled street in Cusco’s centre
A bracelet fashioned to resemble beans on display at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art
Cusco’s several museums include the excellent Museum of Pre-Columbian Art which contains wonderful artwork, sculpture and jewellery created by the Inca and other Peruvian pre-Columbian civilisations.
Despite the inherent tourism, high elevation and variable weather, I loved my time in historically important Cusco.