Culture & Travel14 December 2023
Recognized as one of the 7 wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is a must-visit when you're in Peru. But, before you reach this iconic destination, it's essential to explore the province of Cusco in Central Peru, situated on the Andes plateau. Cusco, with its profound historical significance, serves as the capital of the Inca Kingdom. Nestled in the heart of the Andes Mountains, this enchanting locale, drawing tourists like a magnet with its natural wonders, is also renowned for its mystical ambiance.
When the Incas constructed this city, they shaped it like a revered wild puma, adding a significant and noteworthy touch to the region. Cusco is also your gateway to the legendary Inca city of Machu Picchu, further enhancing its allure. Cucho boasts numerous noteworthy structures and natural wonders for sightseeing. To help you navigate the highlights of the region while exploring Cusco, we've compiled a brief list.
Coricancha Temple of the Sun
Dedicated to the Sun God Inti by the Incas, the Temple of the Sun tops the list of must-see places. Accessible via a gentle slope, the temple attracts countless visitors annually, so be prepared for crowds depending on the time of your visit. The Incas conducted religious ceremonies here, offering animals, flowers, and food to the Sun God Inti. Additionally, the temple served as a site where, in times of famine, disease, and earthquakes, locals would ritually burn offerings, including children and young people. Now functioning as a museum, this site is a definite addition to your itinerary.
San Pedro Market
Reflecting Peru's cultural richness, San Pedro Market is a delightful destination. With its multi-layered structure, the market blends colors, sounds, and products seamlessly without overwhelming you. Whether you're seeking traditional street foods, open-stall delights, or region-specific clothing and souvenirs, this market has it all.
Plaza de Armas
Undoubtedly, one of Cusco's focal points is Plaza de Armas. A vibrant locale with food stalls, souvenir shops, restaurants, and cafes, it provides the perfect spot to take a break, savor a drink, and soak in the lively atmosphere. Notable features include a cathedral with 13 bells and 3 churches, serving as historical attractions for tourists.
Constructed in 1654, Cusco Cathedral stands as a crucial historical heritage site in the region, also known as the Cathedral of the Virgin Mary. Designed by Miguel Gutiérrez Sencio, Juan Correa, and Juan Miguel de Veramendi, this cathedral, belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, fascinates visitors with its architectural blend of baroque, gothic, and Renaissance styles.
When thinking of Peru, Machu Picchu inevitably comes to mind. Situated 2100 meters above sea level on the Andes Mountains, it holds particular intrigue as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Built in 1450 by the Inca ruler Pachacutec Yupanqui, this city successfully withstood Spanish invaders due to its strategic mountainous location. Include a visit to this renowned city on your itinerary for an unforgettable experience.
Known as the sacred water site of the region, Tambomachay showcases the engineering brilliance of the Inca period. The Inca archaeological site reveals intricately sculpted natural rocks and structures meticulously crafted with masonry work. While the exact purpose of these structures remains a mystery, they are believed to have served as a ceremonial area. Make sure to include this intriguing spot on your list when exploring Cusco.
A standout among Cusco's historical treasures is the Sacsayhuaman Fortress. Situated close to the city center, this fortress holds a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. For a panoramic view of the city and picturesque photo opportunities, a visit to this castle is a must. The construction itself is a marvel—enormous stones were cut and transported to this location in the 15th century, and the method of its construction remains shrouded in mystery. As one of the most captivating and enigmatic parts of Cusco, this castle is truly worth a visit.
San Pedro de Andahuaylillas
Situated 41 km from Cusco, this church stands as one of the region's significant historical edifices, believed to trace back to the 1600s. During the church's construction, a technique called kur-kur, a pre-Hispanic practice, was employed, involving the mixture of mud, straw, and reed instead of wood. Admire the Sistine Chapel of the Andes, as the church is often called, for its vibrant ceiling and intriguing wall paintings. Don't miss the chance to witness this extraordinary church on your Cusco journey.