What to do in Cusco?
Interests, funny activities and relaxing time
This document is for every people who visit Cusco and need what to do in the city.Cusco was once the capital of the Incan empire and is today the capital of the Cusco region and province. Cusco is the center of the Quechua culture, a UNESCO world heritage site, the historical capital of Peru and one of the most visited cities in the country. It receives over 2 million visitors per year, many of which use the city as a base from which to embark upon a trip to Machu Picchu, which lies to the northwest. In this guide we have set out the ultimate line-up of things to do in Cusco city and the sacred valley. There is something here for everyone!
The plaza de Armas is the main square or historic center in Cusco. It is the tourist hub of the city and a great starting point to visit the main sites. The place is surrounded by a number of hotels, restaurants and shops which give it a very lively atmosphere, as well as some noteworthy cathedrals. Another interesting square is the Plaza San Francisco, which is southwest of the historic center.
Cusco Cathedral, Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin, is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cusco. It is located on the Plaza de Armas and was built in the early 1600s, and completed in 1654. It is undoubtedly one of the most impressive buildings in Cusco. It is exceedingly pretty by night. The facade is renaissance-style, while the interior is baroque.
Within are elaborately-carved wooden altars that are covered with gold leaf. There is much engraved silverwork in addition to an exquisite collection of paintings of which a number are by masters. Photography is not permitted, in contrast to most cathedrals, which are all-too-proud of their art. The Iglesia del Triunfo (Church of Triumph) and Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Jesus) are adjacent to Cusco Cathedral and also worth visiting.
Qorikancha (which means ‘enclosed place’ in Quechua) used to be the most important temple in the Inca Empire. The temple was dedicated to the Sun God (Inti) and was very ornately decorated, with gold walls, floors and statues. When the Spanish discovered it they were amazed by its opulence.
Unfortunately, most of the gold was used to ‘pay’ the Spanish, who had placed a ransom on the life of the Inca Emperor, Atahualpa. The Spanish eventually demolished Qurikancha and built the Church of Santo Domingo on these foundations. Today one can still see Inca walls within the Church. There is a small charge to enter the church, which is situated just off the Plaza de Armas.
One of the better to visit in Cusco is the district of San Blas, a funky place with unique cafés and some of the most interesting shops in all of Peru. It is the artisanal center of Cusco, where shop owners can be observed executing their craft. A custom-made piece makes for a fantabulous gift for a loved one or, in case you needed an excuse, yourself. There are many slopes and stairs in San Blas, which might be tiring on your first day unless you opt for a taxi.
If you only do one thing in Cusco make sure you go to San Pedro market. This will be one of the most colorful, vibrant and eye-opening experiences of your life. The market is segmented into various sections that range from fresh food and produce (fruit, vegetables, meats, cheeses, breads etc...) through to local textile stores, juice stores and pop-up restaurants.