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Sightseeing in Cusco - what to see. Complete travel guide

The most mysterious city in Peru, Cusco, is situated at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters above sea level. The capital of the Inca Empire is often recognized as the archaeological and historical center of South America. Even though Cusco is not an empire capital anymore, it is a popular tourist destination that still enchants its guests and hides many mysteries of the past. There are still many fantastic landmarks in Cusco, and it is easy to spend many days exploring them. Naturally, the number of guests visiting Cusco increases every year. When taking a stroll on the streets of the city, it is easy to notice that locals are often a minority in a crowd of foreign guests.
According to local legends, Manco Cápac, the founder of the Inca civilization in Cusco, established the beautiful city. He came to this region from the Lake Titicaca region. The city’s territory was conventionally divided into four quarters, each of which had its own head. Rulers of each of the quarters had to be their residents and were obliged to build a palace in the quarter that they were responsible for. Their successors were not allowed to live in the already built palaces. They had to build new palaces for themselves. This tradition is still alive in modern times. Sons never live in the houses of their parents. Even if the house is empty and doesn’t have any dwellers anymore, children still need to build a new house for their families.
Spanish conquistadors brought a new lifestyle to Cusco. The Spanish invaded the region in November 1533. Francisco Pizarro is considered the founder of the city. Starting from this period, the life of the Incans and the region in general changed drastically. The quarters started fighting with each other. The infrastructure and architectural landmarks were destroyed and Catholic churches appeared on their sites. Most of these churches were made from the stones left from the destroyed Incan buildings. This period also marked the appearance of a new style trend, Mestizo. It combines elements of Andian and Spanish motifs. Copyright
Do you prefer to start sightseeing with the most important shrines? Then Coricancha temple is the first sight that you should visit. The “Golden Temple” was the main shrine in the Incan Empire. When conquistadors invaded the region, they destroyed the temple and used its foundation for the new Santo Domingo Cathedral. According to local legends, all walls and inner décor of the temple had gold coating. However, when the Spanish invaded the region, Incans managed to remove and hide all gold parts. At that time, there was a large gold altar with a giant gold disc in the temple. The disc depicted Inti, the Incan god of the sun.
By the way, gold décor is not the most notable feature of the temple. The way it was built is way more important. The temple is built from multiangular blocks that remained indestructible for centuries. Even when a Spanish cathedral was built on the site of the “gold temple”, the cathedral didn’t stand the test of time and got significant damages several times. The base, however, was in great condition and nothing could destroy it. Not even earthquakes could ruin the old walls of the Incan temple. Nowadays, travelers enjoy visiting this attraction and exploring the ruins of the old temple.
Do you want to visit the main shrine of the Incas? In this case, head to Qenko temple that is an archaeological site in the Sacred Valley. The shape of this theater is reminiscent of an amphitheater carved in a rock. Incans performed their main sacred rituals here. This is not just a sacred place; this is home to four temples on the mountain slope. When exploring the area, take a look at the walls that still have the images of the animals that were sacred for the Indians. These are the puma, condor, and snake.
Inside, the temple is a network of corridors and passages that are very narrow. There was no sunlight in many of these passages for centuries. Visitors can also see the table that was used during the ritual sacrifices. Symbols on the walls tell many interesting facts about the people who lived here in the past.
The festival dedicated to Sun is the main event that takes place in Cusco every year on June 24. The festival is traditionally held in Saqsaywaman. Sun has always been the main god of the local tribes because it gives all living creatures warmth, light, and, most important, life. Besides that, Inti, who was the sun god for local people, was always the patron of the Incan Empire. The Spanish canceled the holiday, but locals started celebrating the festival later, turning it into a theatrical event.
Airplane is the best means of transport to reach Cusco. Airplanes land in the city’s airport. Cusco airport accommodates flights from Lima and Arequipa. Besides that, tourists can reach Cusco by bus – there are regular buses from Lima to Cusco. The ride will last almost one day in this case. The road from Arequipa is shorter – approximately nine hours. Trains to Cusco depart from Machu Picchu and Puno.

City tours, excursions and tickets in Cusco and surroundings

Reference information
Map of all parks
National and city parks around Cusco
♥   World Heritage Site 'Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu' , 74.7 km from the center. On the map   Photo

Sights around Cusco from our guide 'Extreme places on Earth'

Fortress Saksayuman

From the series “The Most Mysterious Constructions of the Planet”
Today, Saksayuman is the largest castle on the continent, which has retained the charm and the former grandeur to this day. The gigantic stone blocks of stone are so thick that they can not be pushed back from the spot. Often the sheet of paper does not fit between the blocks. Some scientists believe that the castle was not only an important strategic role, but also served as the site of the great temple complex. According to the historical data, the castle construction began in the second half of the 15th century and lasted for about 50 years. The castle was not finished because of the beginning bourgeois wars. … Read further

Fortress Saksayuaman

From the series “15 Historical Monuments, with Riddles not yet Solved”
Also, the researchers knew that in the 17th century the locals transform the fortress into a stone mine. A lot of houses in Cuzco were built from the parts of the ancient complex. As it was partly destroyed, the researchers have found only 200 blocks. Some of the weight around a ton. Thanks to that the stones were placed so close to each other, the thousand-year old complex is practically the same. Cuzco is a place where earthquakes happen regularly. According to this, it was quite impossible to save something from the ancient time. … Read further

Sightseeing in Peru: things to see

Every region in Peru is characterized by its unique nature landscape. In this country one will find lifeless desert, snowcapped mountains and dense forests. There are also several interesting historic landmarks here. Visiting them will help travelers know more about rich culture and heritage of Peru and its people. … Open
Car rental on Rentals in Cusco

Preferred to Open 9 New Hotels in 2022

In September 2022, the Sommerro hotel in Oslo will start operating in a carefully restored 1930s Art Deco building. This building is a true landmark of Frogner, a historic neighborhood of the Norwegian capital. A multi-million-dollar renovation carefully turned the largest preservation project in Norway into a modern hotel with 231 rooms, including 56 residences. Preferred will open five more hotels in 2022, namely, The Wall Street Hotel in New York, Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences on Singer Island (Florida, the US), TOA Hotel & Spa in Zanzibar, Pendry hotel in Washington, and Pendry Park City hotel in Utah. Read this


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Sightseeing in regions nearby Cusco

All about Cusco, Peru - sightseeings, attractions, touristic spots, architecture, history, culture and cuisine. Prepare your trip together with - find out the 'must see' things in Cusco, which places to visit, which excursions to take, where the breathtaking views are waiting for you. Planning your trip with this travel guide will help your to get the most out of Cusco in few days. - online travel reservation expert providing reliable car rental and hotel booking services. We feature more than 25.000 destinations with 12.000 rental offices and 200.000 hotels worldwide.
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