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Region of Cuzco

Listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage since 1983, Cuzco is a key destination of Peru. The discovery of Machu Pichu by Hiran Bighman in 1910 turned Cuzco into a touristic destination. Located at the heart of the Andes at 3400 meters of altitude, the name Cuzco comes from the Quechua "Quscu" which means navel, as it was the capital of the Inca empire. Along its cobbled-streets, one can discover an architecture influenced by the Incas and the Spaniards during colonial times. The legend tells that in the 12th century, the sun God Inti created the first Inca Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo. They came to life on Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca and then created the city of Cuzco.

Sights

Plaza de armas : This square is also known as Huacaypata, lamentation or meeting place in quechua. At that time, it was an important ceremonial place especially for the Inti Raymi. When the Spanish people came, the square was transformed, and some arches were built.

Cathedral : Its construction began in 1559 and it took about a hundreds years to build. The Iglesia del Triumfo was built first on the old temple of Suntur Wasi. Besides, the cathedral was erected above the old palace of Wiracocha. Inside, the cathedral disposes of a rich decoration as well as an large collection of paintigs from Cuzco.

Iglesia de la Compania de Jésus : Located on the Plaza de Armas, the monument was also built over an old Inca site foundations, Huayna Capac Inca's Palace. Built in 1571 by the Jesuits, it was restored after the earthquake of 1650 and inherited one of the most beautiful baroque façade of Peru.

Iglesia de San Blas : The Church preserves a masterpiece of colonial sculpture: a pulpit carved in one trunk.

Iglesia and Monasterio de la Merced : The Church was built between 1657 and 1680. The sacristy hosts a goldmithery treasure: a 22,2 kg gold monstrance encrusted with precious stone. One can also admire one the most beautiful cloisters of Peru.

Monasterio de Santo Domingo and Templo del Sol Coricancha : Coricancha (Temple of the Sun) was a particularly important place at the time of the Incas. Its walls were, at that time, covered in gold leaves. The Spaniards built the Santo Domingo monastery over the ruins of Coricancha. In the art gallery, there are various paintings from the city of Cuzco in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries.

Calle Hatun Rumiyoc : This street is bordered by an old Inca wall in which the 12 angled stone is built in. This stone is famous because of its perfect size and because of how its angles are joined.

The Pre-Columbian Art Museum : Located in an old colonial house, this museum offers a varied collection of items dating back to old Peruvian civilizations. The galleies dedicated to the Nazca and Mochica people are particularly interesting.

Monasterio and Museo Santa Catalina : The convent disposes of a Renaissance architecture with arches of romanesque art, and it hosts a collection of paintings from the Cuzco school of arts. It was built over the old location of the Acclahuassi.

Sacayhuaman : The complex is made of large polished dry stone walls. It includes 3 zigzag ramparts surrounding a large esplanade. The presence of a ceremonial centre leads one to believe that it was a place of worship.

Q'enqo : Q'enqo means "labyrinth" in quechua. The site was erected by Huayna Capac. It is made of a monolith and we can see a refitted cave with an altar in the centre.

Pukapukara : This site is called the "red fortress" because of the color of its stones. It was probably a control station. The fortress includes different rooms and an esplanade which offers a panoramic view.

Tambomachay : The Inca bath can be seen on this site. This is a stone ceremonial bath from where a crystalline spring flows in fountains.

Nearby attractions

Tipon : The site includes 12 terraces and an astute irrigation system. It was used to collect the rainwater.

Pikillacta : This archeological complex was built by the Huaris in 1100. It is a large fortified city that catches the attention by its size.

Andahauyllilas : This village is known for its Jesuit Church nicknamed "The Sistine Chapel of the Americas". This baroque church contains numerous sculptures and paintings.

Raqchi : In this small village of farmers and ceramists, we can discover the vestiges of the Viracocha temple which included 22 columns supporting the largest Inca roof.

Pisac : This site is one of the most important of the Sacred Valley Peru. Approching the site, we can admire a breathtaking landscape with terraces. Then, we arrive to the ceremonial centre composed of the Intiwatana, the temple of the sun, and several canals. Eventually, we go down towards the Kallaqasa neighbourhood which consists of houses, baths and Inca tombs in the background.

Chinchero : This is a typical village located 30 km from Cuzco. Chinchero attracts a lot of people thanks to its Inca ruins, its colonial church and to the surrounding landscapes with various terraces.

Ollantaytambo : This site consists of huge terraces on which a ceremonial temple is erected. It became a military strategic place as Manco Inca took refuge there and inflicted a terrible defeat on the Spanish conquerors.

Mara Salt mines : The landscape in Maras is spectacular. There are almost 4000 basins carved on the moutain that have been used to extract the salt since Inca times. A stream coming from the hilltop flows in these basins.

Moray : This site shows concentric terraces where each level has its own microclimate. For the Incas, it was originally an astronomical research centre used to determine the best conditions for each crop.



 

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