What to do in Cusco City?

What to do in Cusco City?

In Cusco, every corner is filled with history. Because the ancient capital of Peru (during the Inca Empire) still retains traces of what was the most important power of this ancient civilization.

Millenary history is felt in every step you take through the streets of its towns, which seem to have stopped in time. Its cities are so full of mysticism that you will never want to leave. And if you have to leave, there will always be that burning desire inside you to return as soon as possible.

If you plan to visit Cusco and have a few free days, here are some places you can visit.

Sapantiana Colonial Aqueduct

In the city of Cusco, history is breathed wherever you walk, passing through its streets and squares, temples, and countless archaeological sites. Additionally, in recent times, the Sapantiana Colonial Aqueduct went viral through social networks; it had been neglected and hidden for years. Now, for the first time in a long time, it can be visited during a short walk through the ancient neighborhoods of San Cristóbal and San Blas.

Located a 10-minute walk from the main square of Cusco. End of Calle Siete Borreguitos.

Open 24 hours. Free entry.

Coricancha

If you are visiting the historic center of Cusco and continue walking along the emblematic El Sol Avenue, you will come across one of the most important Inca temples built during their heyday: the Coricancha. Named from the Quechua words quri, meaning gold, and kancha, meaning temple. The significance of this site lies in its role as the main center of worship and devotion to Inti, the Sun god of the Inca Empire, and other supreme deities.

At first glance, the imposing Catholic building inside an unblemished stone wall will surely catch your attention. During the Spanish colonial period, the Santo Domingo Convent was built on its structures, making this tourist attraction a symbol of the blend of Inca and Spanish architectures, visited by millions of people today.

Located a 5-minute walk from the main square of Cusco. El Sol Avenue.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM. Sundays from 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Entry with ticket.

Hatun Rumiyoc Street & the Twelve-Angled Stone

Hatun Rumiyoc, a Quechua word meaning “Great Stone,” gives us a clue about what this tourist attraction signifies. The twelve-angled stone is a carved stone, specifically green diorite. It is embedded in the outer wall of the palace believed to have belonged to Inca Roca, on the street called Hatun Rumiyoc.

Hatun Rumiyoc is also the name given to the wall that includes this famous Inca stone. This wall is considered an archaeological ruin and contains evidence of three identifiable periods: Inca, colonial, and republican. The twelve-angled stone is located exactly in the center of the wall, perfectly fitted thanks to the work of the craftsmen who carved it.

This stone is important for being unique in the world and for its perfection, representing the Inca technology of working with stones to form walls. As with most of their buildings, it is also possible to observe in this wall and this famous stone, the impossibility of even passing a hair through its perfectly fitted joints.

Located a 3-minute walk from the main square of Cusco. Hatun Rumiyoc Street.

Open 24 hours. Free entry.

Cusco Cathedral

The Cathedral of Cusco is one of the most beautiful and significant monuments in America. Built between 1560 and 1664 on the Quishuarqancha, the ancient palace of Inca Huiracocha, with enormous stone blocks brought from Sacsayhuaman, this historic piece is also considered a Cultural Heritage of the Nation and combines unique features such as its Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance styles.

When the Spaniards arrived in the city, they requested the creation of the Diocese of Cusco under the charge of Fray Vicente Valverde. For this reason, churches began to be built in the city. However, the construction of the cathedral took more than 100 years due to the placements they had for its positioning. First, it was to be erected on the site currently occupied by the Church of Triumph, then in the Cusipata area for its spaciousness, finally acquiring the Quishuarqancha lands in 1553.

With a Latin cross shape and a Renaissance-style façade and interior, it houses the best expressions of colonial goldsmithing, as well as a valuable collection of paintings from the Cusco School. Due to the period in which it was built, it inherits the Gothic-Renaissance style of the great Spanish cathedrals, adding the Baroque style represented in its grand retablo façade and monumental towers.

Located in the main square of Cusco.

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM. Entry with ticket.

The Church of the Society of Jesus

Construction began in 1576 on the Inca temple Amaru Cancha, and it was completely rebuilt after a strong earthquake that affected the city in 1650. With a Latin cross-shaped floor plan, its stone façade is profusely decorated, it has two large towers and two annexed chapels.

Its interior preserves one of the most imposing High Altars made of carved cedar wood and covered with gold leaf, as well as a rich collection of sculptures and paintings from the Cusco School.

The church features two windows on the second level with a panoramic view of the Plaza de Armas Cusco.

Located in the main square of Cusco.

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday Mornings from 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM. Afternoons from 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Entry with ticket.

Monastery Museum of Santa Catalina de Sena

Located in the small square of the same name, it was built on the walls and foundations of the ancient Inca Kancha of Acllawasi (house of the chosen). It was owned by Sebastián de Lartaum, who donated the property to the Holy Church, thus being registered in the archive of the Monastery of Santa Catalina.

The scholar Humberto Vidal Unda (1958), narrates that the monastery was founded on December 17, 1601, under the protection and patronage of Our Lady of Remedies, having as sponsor Doña Isabel Rivera de Padilla, widow of Vizcaíno Don Pedro de Báez; before its final construction, the monastery went through a long process of relocations, finally concluding in its current location.

Today, the Monastery of Santa Catalina is a place of knowledge and art, open to the general public. Inside, a variety of artworks and details of the way and practices of life that the nuns led in past times are exhibited.

A 1-minute walk from the main square of Cusco, Santa Catalina Square.

Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM. Sundays from 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM. Entry with ticket.

Regional Historical Museum of Cusco

On the first floor of the Regional Historical Museum of Cusco, you will enjoy the exhibit of paleontological and archaeological discoveries from pre-Hispanic times, as well as the large courtyard where various cultural events are held.

Going up to the second floor, you will have the opportunity to appreciate objects used by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega himself, such as his bed, his desk, among other furniture.

Additionally, in an adjoining room, you will enjoy the cultural legacy of the writer and delight in the covers of his books, excerpts from his stories, as well as colonial manuscripts.

The indigenous leader José Gabriel Condorcanqui or Túpac Amaru also has a room dedicated to him. Paintings and items he used during the revolution are exhibited in this space.

Located a 2-minute walk from the main square of Cusco. Heladeros Street.

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM. Entry with ticket.

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