The old Inca capital of Cusco is a truly remarkable place to visit. It’s feels like walking around in a Tintin adventure, except that no llama has spit on me. Yet.

The city is accessible by foot, so walking is if course the best way to experience the sights and smells of this historical place. But since Cusco is situated at 3400 meters above sea level, it’s quite usual for new arrivals to be out of breath, so plan your day accordingly and remember to take it easy.

Cusco view View of Cusco from the hill with San Cristobal.

The main square Plaza de Armas is surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings with arches. It’s flanked by Compania de Jesus and the Cathedral, which both are worth visiting. The cathedral consists of three parts, where one is supposedly the first cathedral built in the Americas. Compania de Jesus may not be as splendid on the inside, but the altarpiece is the tallest in Peru and you can ascend the tower by a small staircase for a great view of the square.

The large statue of Pachacuti, the great ruler of the Incas, in the middle of the square serves as a reminder that this was the center of the Inca empire long before the Spanish conquerors arrived. The square used to be called Haukaypata in Incan times, a place of great importance for ceremonies.

Reine in Cusco Just coping with the altitude.

There used to be many large buildings in and around Cusco, such as nearby hilltop Saqsaywaman, but after the siege of Cusco in 1537, most of the walls were removed by the Spanish for constructing their buildings in central Cusco.

The Spaniards fortunately didn’t manage to rebuild the city completely in their image. Cusco is said to be one of the oldest inhabited sites in the Americas, and there are still remnants of great walls here and there.

But enough of all this talk about old stones. Don’t forget about the living! Why not have a chat with the extremely cute baby alpacas that roam the streets?


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