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Whether you’re an adventure seeker, travel enthusiast, or just someone who just wants to vacation somewhere individually or with family members, Cusco should be at the top of your places-to-visit list.
Why? There are so many facts that should interest you about this small historical and magical city with many attractions. And we are going to be exploring at them all.
Known as the most-visited city in Peru, Cusco was once the heart and soul of the Inca Empire that existed from the 13th to 16th Century.
Albeit, there is lingering archeological evidence and carbon dating that points to several civilizations that had long existed before the Inca. While these cultures (Wari, Killke, Qotakalli, and Marcavalle) pre-existed, none of them had more influence on the natives today like the Inca civilization.
There is a fascinating folktale passed around by natives that give the city its allure:
- Viracocha the Sun God, gracious and kind, blessed Manco Capac (founder of the Inca Empire) to established a capital city for the empire. Manco roamed the world, indecisive on which village or city he would make the capital.
It was until his golden staff sank into Cusco’s soil. He knew this was a sign and he settled and built the Temple of the Sun, the pinnacle of the Inca Empire. Cusco was transformed into a majestic city with its tentacles stretching as far as the south of Columbia and to Chile. That was until the Spaniards invaded and conquered the city from the year 1533. Cusqueños, descendants of the Incas, are the friendly locals residing there.
While Cusco’s history is intriguing, it is little compared to the adventures you’d embark on when you do pay a visit.
The Ruins and Landscapes
If there’s one thing Cusco can boast of, it is the abundance of ruins to check out. From any point of the city, you’d spot a ruin in the far distance. One of such places is the famed Qoorikancha Museum that is erected on ruins. You can hike to these places and immerse yourself in what was once the beauty of the Inca civilization.
A quick walk through Plaza de Armas you’d find the fortress ruins of Sacsayhuaman overlooking the wonderful city. Navigating through the outskirts of the Cusco, the ruins of the ‘zigzag’ temple will intoxicate you. It should also interest you that the ruins of Machu Picchu are the main reason people throng in their millions to visit Cusco.
If you decide to spend the whole day checking out various ruins, you will never run out of ruins to explore.
Visit the Plaza De Armas
The Plaza De Armas is one place you should explore. Styled by classic colonial architecture, the ambiance of this plaza is second to none. Anchored by a large cathedral, the plaza is filled with religious arts you will find fascinating.
A visit to this park is not complete until you see the Last Supper, an old image depicting guinea pig as the main course feasted on by the disciples. There are several restaurants, open bars and ice cream spots lining the park where you can chill and soak up the beauty of this amazing square.
Trek down the narrow cobblestoned streets
The narrow streets and corridors of Cusco is one of the city’s defining characteristics. Barely wide enough for any vehicle to ply, these streets are paved with cobblestones and pedestrian-friendly.
As you walk through the streets, you would experience this surreal feeling of taking a walk through time. The dazzling blend of Inca architecture coupled with the overlooking ruins is a delight to experience personally.
The San Pedro Market in Cusco is another tourist destination you should check out. There, you’ll mingle with the locals and get a good deal off local snacks and Alpaca clothing.
You will also find some exotic trinkets, textiles and the rarest kinds of vicuña products to purchase.
Check out the food
Cusco is home to a lot of exquisite cuisines and delicacies and it would be a disservice not to try them. If you fancy traditional meals, then you should taste the famed cuy (guinea pig) or settle for the adobo (this is pork stew made from corn beer and chicha.)
However, cuisines such as aji de gallina (creamed chicken) and ceviche (a dish involving raw fish) should pique your interest.
Cusco is a destination better experienced than heard of. So, the next time you make plans to travel to Peru, Cusco should be your first drop point.