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  • Address: Centro Historico

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Cusco Historic Center

When it comes to history, few cities in South America are more historic than Cusco. This sprawling city was once the capital of the entire Inca Empire, and many will tell you that ancient Cusco was the grandest city in Peru. Even the name “Cusco” translates as “Navel of the Earth” since the Inca believed the city to be the center of the known world. It pulses with an energy unlike elsewhere in Peru, and there is a palpable magic which permeates these streets set high in the foothills of the Andes. 

During the 16th Century, when Spanish conquistadors came marching into Cusco, they kept the structure of the city intact but destroyed many of the buildings. Colonial cathedrals and Spanish architecture took the place of Inca temples, and the city became an Andean fusion of Spanish and Inca design. Given the cultural combination and the grandiose scale of the city, UNESCO declared Cusco as a World Heritage Site in 1983. 

When visiting the Cusco Historic Center, begin your tour in the center of town at the fountain-clad Plaza de Armas. This bustling square was the site of many of Cusco’s most historic moments, and the colonial buildings which spring from the square define the charm of Cusco. At the Iglesia Compañia de Jesus, the labyrinths and hidden passages beneath the church house the remains of many conquistadors. On the outside, photograph the building and its ornately-carved entrance which is an iconic image of Cusco.

When leaving the Plaza, meander down streets such as famous Calle Loreto which still features stonework set in place by the Inca. In addition to the remarkable size of the stones, notice how the blocks fit perfectly together like a jigsaw mosaic of rock. 

Once outside of the Plaza, pay a visit to Santo Domingo Church which was built atop sacred ruins. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, this site was known as Coricancha and was dedicated to the worship of the sun. Since this was the temple for the Inca’s most important deity, the building was flush with statues and altars which were comprised of solid gold. Unsurprisingly, the site was completely looted by the Spanish and a church was erected in its place. Portions of the temple still remain, however, and it’s one of the most culturally-rich sites in the entire Cusco Historic Center.

Other than buildings and architecture, art-lovers can wander the streets of San Blas and peruse the streetside markets. Others can visit the various paqchas which are ancient sources of water. Or, simply get lost amongst the historic streets and bask in the power of the city. Watch as groups of traditionally-dressed women blend with wide-eyed tourists, and immerse yourself in the mestizo blend in this ancient capital of the Inca.

Tours & Tickets

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7-Day Lima and Cusco Tour with Overnight at Machu Picchu

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 13 Reviews

Discover the very best of both Lima and Cusco on a 7-day tour of Peru. Visit the famous landmarks and government buildings of Lima before heading south to ...  Read more

Location: Lima, Peru
Duration: 7 days (approx.)

From USD $1,088.99

Day Trip to the Sacred Valley: Chinchero, Maras, Moray and Ollantaytambo

5 star rating: Highly Recommended 2 Reviews

Explore Peru’s Urubamba Valley on this day trip from Cusco! Visit the Andean village of Chinchero, see the former salt-producing town of Maras, view the ...  Read more

Location: Cusco, Peru
Duration: 7 hours (approx.)

From USD $244.99

Cusco City Sightseeing Tour

4.5 star rating: Recommended 35 Reviews

Discover the magic and beauty of Cusco, the capital of the Incan Empire. The flawlessly built Incan roads spread to all regions from the “Plaza” which was ...  Read more

Location: Cusco, Peru
Duration: 4 hours (approx.)

From USD $48.99

Awana Kancha and San Blas Tour from Cusco

Spend a morning discovering a little Peruvian culture on a half-day tour from Cusco to the Awana Kancha textile center and the quaint, historic district of San ...  Read more

Location: Cusco, Peru
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $77.99

Sacred Land of the Incas: 14-Night Tour of Peru and Bolivia including the Inca Trail

Embark on the trip of a lifetime with a 14-night journey from Peru to Bolivia, including Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site! Travel from the coastal ...  Read more

Location: Lima, Peru
Duration: 15 days (approx.)

From USD $3,109.99

7-Night Tour of Lima and Cusco Including the Inca Trail

Discover the mysteries of Machu Picchu on a seven-night tour through Peru! Retrace the steps of the Inca Empire from Lima to Cuzco, including the Sacred Valley ...  Read more

Location: Lima, Peru
Duration: 8 days (approx.)

From USD $1,469.99

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