Cusco is the Capital of the Cusco Region, situated in the Andes at 11,200 ft by the sea level in the Southeastern Peru. It is known as the Inca Empire’s flourishing capital and it was declared World Heritage site in 1983 by UNESCO. Each year the city welcomes thousands of tourists from the entire world, who stop here to visit the city, the Inca’s ruins around the city and Machu Picchu. Besides being the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco has a lot to offer to tourists. It is served by Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport and it is easy to reach by plane.
Once you arrive in Cusco you will notice the clean and blue sky which is a result of the city’s high altitude. Its climate is generally dry and temperate, with two defined seasons: the dry and the rainy season. The dry season lasts from April to October and it features abundant sunshine, blue sky and occasional nighttime freezes, while the rainy season lasts from November to March and it experiences some rain showers during the day.
Cusco has been considered the “Arqueological Capital of Latin America”. It is a colonial city built on the majestic stone foundations of the Incas where you can appreciate a charming mix of Inca and Spanish colonial architecture.
When in Cusco, there are several sights that you must visit. You can start from the main square (Plaza de Armas) surrounded by the beautiful and magnificent cathedral of the 16th century and the Church of la Compañia de Jesus of the 17th century. The cathedral presents late-gothic, Baroque interiors and it is very famous for its carved wooden altars and the colonial gold works. In the inside you can appreciate a wealth of colonial art and historic paintings of past bishops. The Church of la Compañia de Jesus was built on the foundations of the Amarucancha temple and it is considered as one of the most important example of colonial arquitecture in Latin America. Among the most noteworthy Spanish colonial buildings of the city is the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, placed in the homonymous square. The church has been built upon the foundations of the old Inca Korikancha temple, the most important sanctuary dedicated to the Sun God at the time of the Inca Empire destroyed by the Spanish invaders. It is also noteworthy La Merced, which actually includes a Convent and a Church. This is a colonial church built in 1542; the building was destroyed by the 1650 earthquake but it was totally rebuilt once more in 1675. Its colonial paintings, wood carvings and Baroque Renaissance Style are really worth a visit. Walking through the city you will feel Cuzco’s reach past with its traces of the Inca Empire and its vibrant present, especially once you get to the San Blas neighborhood. This neighborhood, placed few blocks from the main square, is one of the most picturesque sites of the city, with its artisans’ workshops, artists’ studios and crafts shops. Streets are narrow and charming and the majority of them are pedestrian. From the area you can appreciate awesome and spectacular view of the city.
Cusco and the area around the city are certainly the most fascinating places in the Andes, where you can appreciate the beauty of the old Inca culture. One of the best sights to visit is Sacsaywaman, which is one of the great works of Inca engineering seated right above the city of Cusco. Its name means satisfied hawk in Quechua, the walled complex includes the great plaza used for ceremonial activities and three massive terrace walls. The main feature is a massive defensive wall built with enormous blocks of stone. Qenko is another important ceremonial centre with a large altar rock and a semicircular rock structure. The area has been told to be place for macabre rituals and mummifications. In the area you will also bump into a hydraulic engineering marvel called Tambomachay, also known as the Temple of the Sacred Waters, located 8 Km far away from the city. It consists of a series of aqueducts, canals and waterfalls, still functioning today. It was an important pace for rituals and physical cleaning.
Andean gastronomy is one of a kind since the city is place of many different genuine ingredients linked to earth. Grains, tubers, meats are used in the traditional dishes of the Andean cuisine, such as Timpo, Chuño Cola, Pepian with Guinea Pig or Rabbit, Queso Kapche, and Adobo. Timpo is a delicious soup boiled with a piece of chest beef, lamb head, bacon, cabbage, potatoes, moraya, chick-peas, peaches, pears, yucca and rice. Broth is served separate from other things. Chuño Cola is a traditional Inca pottage with sausages, rice, chick-peas and potatoes and potato starch (sun-dried potato). Pepian with Guinea Pig or Rabbit is prepared with meat fried in abundant oil covered by a garlic, onion, peanut and red chili dressing and served with rice and boiled potatoes. Queso Kapche is a hot soup prepared with milk, cheese, green beans, potatoes, eggs and pepper with an onion seasoning. It is usually served with rice. Adobo is pork marinated in chichi and other spices and cooked in a clay pot.