Cusco’s Cathedral of Santo Domingo is a colonial gem, boasting an altar of silver and a magnificently carved choir. The building stands on the site of an Inca palace, and was built from stone blocks removed from the nearby Inca city of Sacsayhuaman by the triumphant conquistadors.
The elaborately decorated cathedral was built from 1559 to 1654 on the city’s main square, Plaza de Armas, and is filled with colonial artworks, artifacts and richly decorated chapels. The most famous artwork is a Last Supper painting by Marcos Zapata featuring a meal of local guinea pig served with an Inca corn beverage. The highly ornamental facade features two domes flanking the chapels and nave, built in a Gothic-Renaissance hybrid style.
The Inca site of Qorikancha forms the foundations of the colonial church of Santo Domingo, creating an unusual combination of monolithic Inca and arched colonial architecture.
Qorikancha means ‘Golden Courtyard’, and in Inca times the temple walls were clad with 700 sheets of solid gold, proving a tempting lure for the conquistadors. The gold sheets and gold and silver statues are gone, melted down and recast by the Spanish, but the impressively hewn curved wall of basalt stonework remains. The temple complex is thought to have been built by the first Inca emperor, Manco Capac, 100 years before the coming of the Spaniards. It was built as an observatory and religious temple to the sun, housing the mummified bodies of the Inca rulers. When you enter the courtyard, imagine the octagonal front clad with solid gold, flanked by temples to the moon and the stars draped in solid silver.
The Inca Trail might be the most popular trek in the Peruvian Andes near Cusco, but an arguably equally impressive (and certainly less crowded) trail leads visitors to Ausangate. Nevado Ausangate, the highest mountain in southern Peru, peaks at 20,945 feet (6,384 meters) above sea level. On a clear day, the snow-topped peak can be seen from Cusco.
The Ausangate Trail, named after the peak, takes five to six days, plus travel time to and from Cusco from the trail head. The trail begins in the brown grasslands of the Andean plateau and crosses four high-altitude passes, covering some of the most stunning terrain in the Cusco region. The trail, much of it at altitudes of more than 13,100 feet (4,000 meters) passes high alpine lakes, glacial valleys and small villages where alpacas graze freely and residents still dress in their traditional attire.
From boldly patterned, knitted ponchos to bright, intricately woven textiles or chullo hats made from baby-soft alpaca wool; few visitors leave Peru without buying some of the country’s colorful handicrafts. The Andean region in particular is world-renowned for its dazzling textiles, incorporating unique indigenous designs with traditional weaving techniques and locally sourced materials like sheep, alpaca and llama wool. It’s possible to buy the products all around Peru, but for those looking to learn more about the region’s rich craftmaking heritage, the Interpretation Center of Andean Textiles in Cusco is a must.
As well as admiring the elaborate designs and purchasing handcrafted clothing and gifts, visitors to the Interpretation Center of Andean Textiles can learn the origins and traditions of the age-old weaving techniques, used by local craftsmen for more than 2,000 years.
Many travelers to Cuzco are familiar with the Inca, the native inhabitants of the Peruvian Andes who were brutally conquered by the Spanish. Fewer people, however, are familiar with the Moche, Nazca, Chimu, and Chancay whose histories date back for thousands of years. Though only a handful of sights remain from these cultures, their legacy remains through the various art forms which have survived throughout Peru’s many conquests.
When visiting Cuzco, the Pre-Columbian Art Museum is a private collection of over 450 pieces which highlight the art from these ancient cultures. Set inside of the Casa Cabrera—itself a masterful piece of architecture which was once a ceremonial house for the Inca—the 11 different showrooms highlight art which dates as far back as 1250 BC. Fine pottery and ancient ceramics accompany sculptures of silver and gold. There is jewelry made from seashells and bone, and numerous carvings etched out of wood tell the story of Peru’s native people.
この素晴らしい寺院、棚田、広場の集合体は、ピサロに率いられたヨーロッパ人に征服されるまでインカ皇帝、パチャクテクとトゥパック・ユパンキインカに治められた山上の城でありました。 マチュピチュチュの名前は有名ですが、構造の秘密、機能、滅亡を含む数々のミステリーはまだ解き明かされていません。茂り茂った遺跡は、1911年アメリカの歴史家ハイラム・ビンガムによって発見されました。石組は精巧で、ここが儀式的な場所として重要な役割を果たしていたことがわかります。 1450年頃インカ帝国は繁栄の頂点を迎えました。他のインカ遺跡はスペイン人に破壊され略奪されましたが、マチュピチュは、略奪を逃れ、像や寺院は良い状態で残されています。
Nestled in the Sacred Valley of the Incas is the remote town of Maras, known throughout Peru for its thousands of worked salt pans. Salt has been collected here since before the time of the Inca, rising to the surface from a subterranean stream and evaporating in the Andean sunshine.You can gather your own handful of salt or buy some packaged to take home from Maras’ gift store. The terraced saltwork pools dotting the Andean hillsides look quite stunning, glittering like bright white snow in the sunshine, so bring your camera. The town of Maras was quite important in colonial times, and you’ll see some out-of-place ornate Spanish homes and the mud-brick colonial church.
Sometimes referred to as “the other Machu Picchu”, Choquequirao is an Incan ruin in the mountains outside of Cuzco. Unlike Machu Picchu, however, Choquequirao sees only a handful of visitors due to the difficult two-day hike.
That could potentially change, however, as plans are in the works to shorten the access to a 15-minute ride on a tram. Many believe that this will greatly-reduce the sense of tranquility which is found at the outpost, although others argue it will open the ruin for a greater amount of visitors. Like Machu Picchu, Choquequirao is an Incan city with ornately-carved terraces and structures, and historians believe that this city in the clouds was once the retreat of royalty. Only about a third of the site has been completely excavated, however, and much of the city continues to remain hidden within the cloudy, sweaty jungle.
The colorful Sunday market at Chinchero attracts stallholders and browsers from near and far.
This traditional Andean town is known as ‘the birthplace of the rainbow’, and it has the full complement of photogenic attractions: Inca ruins, Andean village houses, an elaborate colonial church built on Inca foundations, and of course the lively weekly market. Visit the market to buy vegetables from the local traders, and Andean handicrafts from the Quechua stallholders. The hand-woven textiles are a particular highlight, and a proudly preserved Inca tradition. The highlanders trade their woven crafts for the fruit and vegetables grown at lower altitudes. You’ll also find jewelry, pottery, toys, rugs and musical pipes for sale at the market.
Looming on the horizon to the east of Machu Picchu, the 2,500-meter peak of Putucusi Mountain makes an enticing proposition for those looking to venture off-the-beaten-track and escape the crowds. With its sheer forested slopes and near-vertical cliff faces, you’ll need to be in good fitness to scramble to the summit of Putucusi, but a series of rock steps and wooden ladders will help you along the way.
Hiking Putucusi takes around 3.5-hours round-trip, but it’s worth the effort, affording spectacular aerial views over neighboring Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes. Best of all, it’s free from the crowds and entrance fees of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, so you can enjoy the views all by yourself.
Located in the Sacred Valley of Peru, Pisaq Potato Park encompasses nearly 30,000 acres (12,000 hectares) of high-altitude Andean land where local residents manage and conserve one of their most important agricultural resources: potatoes. Some 700 varieties of potatoes grow within the park, many of them endemic to the region. Six Quechua communities joined forces on the conservation project with the aims of eradicating hunger, promoting gender equality and ensuring environmental sustainability.
Visitors to the Pisaq Potato Park can choose between three- or five-day guided treks through the park, or a single-day visit which includes a hands-on tour of a potato farm, a meal made from a variety of local Peruvian potatoes and visits to some of the communities involved in the project. The park also offers a cooking class using local potato varieties.