Cusco: Wikis


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Coordinates: 13°31′30″S 71°58′20″W / 13.525°S 71.97222°W / -13.525; -71.97222

Cuzco, Qusqu
Top: Plaza de Armas, Middle left: Temple of Coricancha, Middle right: Aerial view of Cusco, Bottom left: Sacsayhuamán, Bottom right: Cathedral of Cusco

Nickname(s): La Ciudad Imperial (The Imperial City)
Districts of Cusco
Cuzco is located in Peru
Districts of Cusco
Coordinates: 13°31′30″S 71°58′20″W / 13.525°S 71.97222°W / -13.525; -71.97222
Country  Peru
Region Cusco
Province Cusco
Founded 1100 A.D. 1st
 - Type Democracy
 - Mayor Marina Sequeiros Montesinos
 - Total 70,015.3 km2 (27,033 sq mi)
Elevation 3,310 m (10,860 ft)
Population 2007
 - Total 348,935
Time zone PET (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) PET (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 84

Cusco or Cuzco (pronounced /ˈkuːskoʊ/ in English; in Quechua written Qusqu and pronounced [ˈqosqo]) is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley (Sacred Valley) of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cusco Province. The city has a population of 348,935 which is triple the figure of 20 years ago. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cusco, its altitude is around 3,300 m (11,000 ft). Cusco is the historic capital of the Inca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. It is a major tourist destination and receives almost a million visitors a year. It is designated as the Historical Capital of Peru by the Constitution of Peru.[1]


Spelling and etymology

The Spanish conquistadors adopted the Quechua name (Qosqo) for the city, but transliterated it into Spanish as Cusco. This is how it appeared on Spanish maps from the 17th and 18th centuries.[2][3] On maps from the 19th century (as early as 1810)[4][5] and through the mid-20th century (until at least 1976), the name appears as "Cuzco". Today, in official Peruvian cartography (in Spanish), the name has been returned to the original transliteration: Cusco, with an S rather than a Z.

In English, both S[6][7] and Z[8][9] are accepted, as there is no "official" spelling.[10] Both British and American variants use S or Z. The Encyclopaedia Britannica uses "Cuzco".

The name Cusco is derived from the Quechua phrase, qusqu wanka (meaning "rock of the owl".)


City of Cusco*
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Type City of Cusco
Criteria iii, iv
Reference 273
Region** Latin America and the Caribbean
Inscription history
Inscription 1983  (7th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Killke culture

The Killke occupied the region from 900 to 1200 A.D., prior to the arrival of the Incas in the 1200s. Carbon-14 dating of Sacsayhuaman, the walled complex outside Cusco, had demonstrated that the Killke culture constructed the fortress about 1100 AD. The Inca later expanded and occupied the complex in the 1200s and after. On March 13, 2008, archaeologists discovered the ruins of an ancient temple, roadway and acqueduct system at Sacsayhuaman.[11] This find plus the results of excavations in 2007, when another temple was found at the edge of the fortress, indicated ing religious as well as military use of the facility.[12]

Inca history

Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire (1200s-1532). Many believe that the city was planned as an effigy in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal.[13] Under the Inca, the city had two sectors: the urin and hanan. Each were further divided to each encompass two of the four provinces, Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Qontisuyu (SW) and Collasuyu (SE). A road led from each of these quarters to the corresponding quarter of the empire. Each local leader was required to build a house in the city and live part of the year in Cusco, but only in the quarter that corresponded to the quarter of the empire in which he had territory. After the rule of Pachacuti, when an Inca died, his title went to one son and his property was given to a corporation controlled by his other relatives (the process was called split inheritance). Each title holder had to build a new house and add new lands to the empire, in order to own the land his family needed to maintain after his death.

According to Inca legend, the city was built by Sapa Inca Pachacuti, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cusco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire of Tahuantinsuyu. Archaeological evidence, however, points to a slower, more organic growth of the city beginning before Pachacuti. The city was constructed according to a definite plan, and two rivers were channeled around the city. Archaeologists such as Larry Coben have suggested the city plan was replicated at other sites throughout the empire.

The city fell to the sphere of Huáscar in the division of the empire after the death of Huayna Capac in 1527. It was captured by the generals of Atahualpa in April 1532 in the Battle of Quipaipan. Nineteen months later, Spanish explorers invaded the city (see battle of Cuzco).

Cusco after the Spanish invasion

The first image of Cuzco in Europe. Pedro Cieza de Leon. Cronica del Peru, 1553.

The first Spaniards arrived in the city on November 15, 1533. Francisco Pizarro officially arrived in Cusco on March 23, 1534, renaming it the "Very noble and great city of Cuzco". The many buildings constructed after the Hispanic invasion have a mixture of Spanish influence with Inca indigenous architecture, including the Santa Clara and San Blas neighborhoods. The Spanish destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. They used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of a new city. Cusco stands on layers of cultures, with the old Tawantinsuyu built on Killke structures, and the Spanish having replaced indigenous temples with Catholic churches, and palaces with mansions for the invaders.

Cusco was the center for the Spanish colonization and spread of Christianity in the Andean world. It became very prosperous thanks to agriculture, cattle raising, and mining, as well as the trade with Spain. The Spanish colonists constructed many churches and convents, as well as a cathedral, university and Archbishopric. Just as the Inca built on top of Killke structures, Spanish buildings were based on the massive stone walls built by the Inca.

A major earthquake in 1950 badly destroyed the Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, which were built on top of the impressive Coricancha (Temple of the Sun). The city's Inca architecture, however, withstood the earthquake. Many of the old Inca walls were at first thought to have been lost after the earthquake, but the granite walls of the Qoricancha were exposed, as well as those of other ancient structures throughout the city. While some wanted to restore the buildings to their colonial splendor, a contingent of Cusco citizens urged city officials to retain the exposed Inca walls. Eventually they won out. (Cusco had also been the center of a major earthquake in 1650.)

Republican era

After Peru declared its independence in 1821, Cusco maintained its importance within the administrative structure of the country. Upon independence, the government created the Department of Cusco, maintaining authority over territory extending to the Brazilian border. Cusco was made capital of the department; subsequently it became the most important city in the south-eastern Andean region.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the city's urban sprawl spread to the neighboring districts of Santiago and Wanchaq.

In 1911, explorer Hiram Bingham used the city as a base for the expedition in which he rediscovered the ruins of Machu Picchu.



A 1950 earthquake shook the city, causing the destruction of more than one third of the city's structures. Later, the city began to establish itself as a focal point for tourism and began to receive a greater number of tourists.

Since the 1990s, tourism increased, and the hotel sector subsequently expanded. Currently, Cusco is the most important tourist destination in Peru. The city's urban sprawl is still expanding, having extended to the San Sebastian and San Jerónimo districts.

Under the administration of mayor Daniel Estrada Pérez, a staunch supporter of the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua, between 1983 and 1995 the Quechua name Qosqo was officially adopted for the city.


The city of Cusco extends throughout the Huatanay river valley. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cusco, its altitude is around 3,300 m (11,000 ft).


A panorama of Cusco

Although the original Inca city was said to have been founded in the 11th century, more recently scholars have established that Inca did not occupy the area until after 1200 AD. Before them the indigenous people of the Killke culture built the walled complex of Sacsayhuaman about 1100 AD. In November 2008, archeological researchers found that the Killke also built a major temple near Sacsayhuaman, as well as an acqueduct and roadway connecting prehistoric structures.

The Spanish explorer Pizarro sacked much of the Inca city in 1535. Remains of the palace of the Incas, the Temple of the Sun, and the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun still stand. In addition, Inca buildings and foundations in some cases have proved to be stronger than the foundations built in present-day Peru. Among the most noteworthy Spanish colonial buildings of the city is the Cathedral of Santo Domingo.

The major nearby Inca sites are Pachacuti's presumed winter home, Machu Picchu, which can be reached on foot by an Inca trail or by train; and the "fortress" at Ollantaytambo. Sacsayhuaman was expanded by the Inca.

Less-visited ruins include: Inca Wasi, the highest of all Inca sites at 3,980 m (13,100 ft); Old Vilcabamba the capital of the Inca after the capture of Cusco; the sculpture garden at Chulquipalta (aka Chuquipalta, Ñusta España, The White Rock, Yurak Rumi); Tipón with working water channels in wide terraces; as well as Huillca Raccay, Patallacta, Choquequirao, Moray and many others.

The surrounding area, located in the Huatanay Valley, is strong in gold mining and agriculture, including corn, barley, quinoa, tea and coffee.

Thanks to remodelling, Cusco's main stadium Estadio Garcilaso de la Vega attracted more tourists during South America's continental soccer championship, the Copa América 2004 held in Peru. The stadium is home to one of the country's most successful soccer clubs, Cienciano. Cusco's local team has built a reputation in the world of club soccer, as it has won several international competitions in South America. It has yet to achieve such success in its home country.

The city is served by Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport.

The Plaza de Armas of Cusco


Under the Koppen climate classification, Cusco has a Subtropical Highland climate. Its climate is generally dry and temperate, slightly cold with night frost. It has two defined seasons: the dry season lasts from April to October and sunshine is abundant with an average temperature of 13°Celsius (55.4°Fahrenheit). The wet season lasts from November to March with an average temperature of 12°Celsius (53.6°Fahrenheit).

Cusco was found in 2006 to be the spot on Earth with the highest ultraviolet light level.[15]

Climate chart (explanation)
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm
source: BBC Weather


As headquarters to the Inca Empire, Cusco was an important agricultural region. It was a natural reserve for thousands of native Peruvian species, including around 2000 varieties of potato cultivated by the people.[16]

Recently many fusion and neo-Andean restaurants have developed in Cusco, in which the cuisine is prepared with modern techniques and incorporates a blend of traditional Andean and international ingredients.[17]


International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Cusco is twinned with:[18]


Cusco sights

In modern culture

See also


  1. ^ "Constitución del Perъ de 1993". Retrieved 2009-07-22.  
  2. ^ Ianssonium, Ioannem (1647) Mapa del Perú, image in Wikipedia Commons
  3. ^ Bellin, Jacques Nicolas (1758) Suite du Perou Audience de Charcas Paris, France, image in Wikipedia Commons;
  4. ^ Pinkerton, John (1810) "Peru" World Atlas Cadell and Davies, London, image in the David Rumsey Map Collection;
  5. ^ Carey, Mathew (1814) "Peru" World Atlas Mathew Carey, Philadelphia, image in the David Rumsey Map Collection;
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "City of Cuzco - UNESCO World Heritage Centre". 2007-08-21. Retrieved 2009-07-22.  
  9. ^ "Cuzco Travel Information and Travel Guide - Peru". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 2009-07-22.  
  10. ^ of words in English
  11. ^ Kelly Hearn, "Ancient Temple Discovered Among Inca Ruins", National Geographic News, 31 March 2008, accessed 12 Jan 2010
  12. ^ "NEWS -".<!. Retrieved 2009-07-22.  
  13. ^ "The history of Cusco".<!. Retrieved 2009-07-25.  
  14. ^ Reuters via ABC News Australia "Opera House snubbed as new Wonders unveiled" 7 July 2007
  15. ^ Liley, J. Ben and McKenzie, Richard L. (April 2006) "Where on Earth has the highest UV?" UV Radiation and its Effects: an update NIWA Science, Hamilton, NZ;
  16. ^ "Cusco, Peru Bans GM Products To Protect Diversity Of Native Potatoes". Retrieved 2009-07-22.  
  17. ^ Guide to Peruvian Food, Cusco Reference
  18. ^ "Ciudades Hermanas (Sister Cities)" (in Spanish). Municipalidad del Cusco. Retrieved 2009-09-23.  
  19. ^ "::Bethlehem Municipality::". Retrieved 2009-10-10.  
  20. ^ "Kraków otwarty na świat". Retrieved 2009-07-19.  

External links

Cusco travel guide from Wikitravel

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Cuzco article)

From Wikitravel

Plaza de Armas at night
Plaza de Armas at night

Cuzco (also "Cusco", or "Qosqo" in Quechua), located in the Southern Sierras is a fascinating city that was the capital of the Incan Empire. Cuzco is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is one of Peru's most visited cities as it is the largest and most comfortable city from which tourists can begin visits to Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and other Incan sites in the region.

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Cuzco from Sacsayhuamán
Alley in Cuzco
Alley in Cuzco

Cusco is a beautiful city with well preserved colonial architecture, evidence of a rich and complex history. The city itself represents the center of indigenous Quechua culture in the Andes, and by merely walking the streets one sees the layers of history. Spanish colonial buildings erected directly atop Inca walls line the square, while the modern tourist nightlife flourishes in their midst.

The city is surrounded by a number of ruins, the most impressive being Sacsayhuaman, the site of the 1536 battle in which dozens of Pizarro's men charged uphill to battle the forces of the Inca.

Nowadays, Cuzco is known for its indigenous population--often seen on the streets in traditional clothing--and its substantial tourist-fueled night life.

More information on Cuzco is available from the official Tourist Office:

  • Directur, Portal Blankets 117 (close to the Plaza de Armas), 222032.

Get in

By plane

The airport is at the edge of the city (taxi ride). There are daily internal flights to and from Lima, Arequipa and small jungle airstrips in the Amazon basin. The closest main international airport is Lima. The cheapest one way flights to Lima cost around USD 70. Frequently, bad weather conditions can cause flights to be cancelled, often up to two days on end. If you are flying straight into Cuzco, beware of altitude sickness for the first couple of days. Drink mate de coca (coca tea), the local remedy for this. Many hotels and hostels provide it to guests upon arrival. Also be sure to rest, most guidebooks and locals suggest minimal activity during your first day in the city. Altitude sickness (soroche) tends to sneak up on you and its symptoms may not be apparent at first.

Note that the market rate for a taxi from the airport to the Plaza de Armas is 3 - 5 soles, not 30 or more as they may try to charge you.

By bus

The Terminal Terrestre is about a 20 minute walk down the Av. Sol. You can also take a taxi for a few soles.

Buses are plentiful from other Peruvian cities like Lima (about 24 hours), Puno (6-8 hours), Arequipa (10 hours, 20 soles), Nazca (14-16 hours) etc, but are quite long and slow, although the views can compensate. The main roads are quite good, but some can be bad, making trips take longer than expected.

Also, make sure your bus has a bathroom or that it stops for bathroom breaks every couple of hours before you buy tickets. There are Puno-Cuzco buses that have neither, and that can mean a VERY long 6-8 hours.

  • Expreso Los Chankas, Pje Cáceres 150. One of the only companies to offer direct service from Ayacucho to Cusco. 55 Soles for a 22-hour ride on a semi-cama bus. Buses at 6:30AM and 7PM.

By rail

Cuzco is connected to Machu Picchu and Puno by rail. Rail service was recently discontinued to Arequipa. This service is operated by PeruRail [1].

Get around

The centre of Cuzco is small enough to walk around, although you will probably need to catch a bus or taxi to the bus station, Sacsayhuamán or airport. Beware about walking around at night alone and/or drunk, robberies have often been reported.

Taxis are very common in Cuzco. Officially they cost 2-4 soles depending on distance. Call Alo Cuzco Taxis [2] Often many drivers are not locals. Beware when using taxis at night; robberies have been reported in collusion with taxi cab drivers, at certain times radio taxis may be the safest option. The driver might also try to extort a hefty sum of money (15 soles) for a short ride if you don't haggle before - which is likely if you're just arriving at night at the bus terminal and want to avoid the hoards of touts. Just pay 5 soles and leave it at that.

If you are staying in Cusco for a long time, the Combis are a cheap and reliable form of transportation. These are the Volkswagen vans and small buses with names like Imperial, Batman, or Zorro. It costs about 60 centimos to ride them. If you are unsure if a certain combi will take you where you want to go, just ask. They will call out the stops as they go and if you want to get off, you just yell "Baja!", as in, "I want to get off!" They run until 10PM. But if you are a fan of lots of personal space, this may not be the best option for you, as they tend to be quite full. Carry your backpack in front of you.

For large groups, a tourist bus can be very convenient to get to places like Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Check with one of the many local travel agencies.

Boleto turistico

A boleto turistico is required for access to some of the sights in and around Cuzco. It can be bought at the Oficina Ejecutiva del Comité (OFEC), Av Sol 103, Cuzco, ph: 227 037.

There are three different kind of tickets:

  • A full ticket (valid for ten days and for all sites), 130 soles;
  • A student ticket (ISIC sudentcard required as proof), 70 Soles;
  • A partial ticket, (only valid for one day and a limited number of sites)

The ticket gives access to the following sites in Cuzco: Santa Cataline Monastery, Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo, Museo Historico Regional, Museo del Sitio del Qoricancha, Museo de Arte Popular, Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo Danzas Folklórico and Monumento Pachacuteq. And around Cuzco: Sacsayhuamán, Qénqo, Pukapukara, Tambomachay, Chinchero and the ruins of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Tipón and Pikillacta.

  • Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo, located in the Municipal Palace at Plaza Regocijo. Has exhibitions of contemporary art. Admission with the boleto turistico
  • Museo Historico Regional, located in the home of the Inca historian Garcilaso de la Vega. Many paintings from the 17th and 18h century.
  • Museo del Sitio del Qoricancha, Av Sol. With information about the different pre-Columbian cultures and fragments of ceramics and textiles of the Inca culture. A very small museum, the showcase room includes three mummies and skulls modified by the Incas with holes or sloped foreheads. Allow an hour to an hour and a half. English explanations are present but lacking.
  • Museo de Arte Popular, located in the basement of the OFEC office. Displays a collection of popular art.
  • Galleries; the stunning scenery of the Cuzco area are often very well depicted by local artists. It is possible to find cheap prints that are of surprisingly good quality if you're prepared to shop around.
  • Santa Catalina Convent, also a collection of religious art. Admission with the boleto turistico.
  • La Merced Monastery, one of the most spectacular monasteries in the city. Has a decent museum with a spectacular 1.3m high solid gold monstrance, a church, and the convent itself which is one of the best architectural edifices in the city. One block away from Plaza de Armas on Admission is 6 soles.
  • Qoricancha, a 16th century Dominican convent built on top of an older Inca palace. The site is worth several hours of your time, and is one of the best in Cuzco, containing both Catholic and Inca heritage with stunning views of the surrounding area. Located 4 blocks from Plaza de Armas on Av. El Sol. Admission 10 soles.
  • The walls of the city are Incan walls, particularly near the Plaza de Armas.
  • Monumento Pachacuteq, down Av. Sol, is a statue of the Inca warrior King Pachacuteq. The statue is placed on a cylindrical base and the total monument is over 22 metres high. The cylindrical base can be climbed, but views are disappointing because the monument is located at a lower part of town. Admission with the boleto turistico.
  • Walk around the Plaza de Armas; the square has churches, shops, restaurants and bars backing on to it and is a great place to spend an afternoon. The historical center of Cusco is beautiful, but you will have to deal with all the street vendors and hawkers of cheap paintings and other souvenirs. They are everywhere in and around the Plaza de Armas. They spoil somewhat the experience.
  • Get a massage. You will invariably be propositioned by young ladies handing out flyers advertising massages. These are legit, only cost 15-20 Soles for 1+ hour, but are not done by trained masseuses. Still, for the price it can't be beat.
  • Check out the Plaza de San Francisco, which is a few blocks north of the center, and is a great place to visit one of Cusco's many great coffee shops.
  • Play Sapo, a traditional bar game played in chicharias all over Peru. The game involves throwing small coins, called fichas, at a table with a bronze sapo (toad) attached. You get points for making it into holes on the table, and a ton of points for making it into the sapo's mouth. Best played while drinking chicha (corn beer) at a local dive. Ask old men to show you the correct throwing form, as it's difficult to master.
  • Talk to local store owners, curators, waitresses and bartenders. They typically know a little English if your Spanish is not good, and are generally happy to share interesting information about the city not found in guidebooks. This is also a great way to find the best places to try cuy, alpaca, and chicha.
  • Once you are accustomed to the altitude, go for a jog! This is a very humbling experience, as the hills and thin air prove a challenge to even those in great shape. It's also a good way to explore. Head east or south of the plaza for the safest places. If you're a woman out exercising, you may get a few cat calls, as this is common in much of Latin America.
  • Go whitewater rafting - but not in the Sacred Valley of the Incas where the water is very polluted and the rapids are relatively tame. Instead head upstream to the Chuqicahuana or Cusipata sections of the Rio Urubamba / Vilcanota where the water is much cleaner and the rapids are excellent fun up to class 5 depending on what time of year you are traveling.
  • Try inflatable canoeing on the Piñi Pampa section of the Rio Urubamba where you get to paddle your own canoe down fun but not frantic class 1 and 2 rapids.
  • If you have more time try and raft the 3 or 4 day Rio Apurimac - the true Source of the Amazon and one of the Top Ten rafting rivers in the World. Class 3 - 5 all in the most amazing 3000m deep canyon. Go with the experts as accidents have occurred and in Peru you pay for what you get so saving a few $$$ can seriously reduce the quality and the safety of your trip.
  • Try a Downhill Mountain Bike trip either across the Chincheros plains, past Inca ruins and down through the spectacular Maras Saltpans or the 75km downhill from Abra Malaga to Santa Maria and onto the totally awesome hot springs of Santa Teresa (and easy and cheap access to Machu Picchu from here too) Again go with the experts - there are a lot of cheap bikes out there totally not up to the job.
Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas
  • A great program for students is ProPeru, part of the NGO ProWorld Service Corps. They do sustainable community development work such as building kindergartens, irrigation systems, and fish farms in rural communities in the Sacred Valley They offer semester programs, internship programs, and short-term group programs, all ranging from a few weeks to a few months. Programs include living with a host family, sightseeing, spanish classes and other coursework.
  • For the adventurous, communities in the Sacred Valley often welcome volunteers to teach English or provide other skills to community members.
  • In the city, there are many opportunities to work with street children. The most notable is called Bruce Peru. Also there are opportunities to volunteer at one of the cities' orphanages.


If you want cheap cheap touristy stuff, go to one of the two Saturday and Sunday morning markets in Juliaca (about 5 hours away by bus), Puno (about 6 hours away by bus). They are about 1/3 the price of Cuzco.

If you don't want to go so far away, but still want touristy stuff, go to the Artisan Market at the intersection of la Avenida del Sol and Tullumayo. It's the big red building near the fountain.

Also, Pisac, a town outside Cuzco, has a very big market. It is about 30 minutes from Cuzco by bus. The bus station is on Tullumayo street a couple blocks from Limacpampas. The fare is very cheap, and you can see the Incan ruins at Pisac.

Also in Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu prices can be the double of what they are in Cuzco.

The further away you get from the main square, they cheaper things become, although there is a mini-mart next to the big church in the main square that is cheaper than in my hotel, then there is the San-Pedro market where bread is s/0.10 and a glass of combination juices is s/1.50 and they give you 2-4 refills. Don´t go too far from the main square at night though, it can be dangerous.

If you travel to the "Sacred Valley" (Valle Sagrado, including the towns/ruins of Chinchero, Ollantaytambo and Pisac), there is lots of touristy stuff to buy, you can barter, but the prices won´t go down much.

There is another market called Centro Comercial El Molino, Urbanizacion Ttio, you have to take a taxi and it costs s/2 to get there. In this market you can buy heaps of illegal merchandise, DVDs, CDs etc. A good quality copy DVD is s/4, or you can by 5 VCDs for s/10.

The indigenous women at El Centro Bartolome de Las Casas have a store in which they sell homemade handicrafts and weavings. You can often watch them work, though they often don't speak Spanish, and rarely speak a word of English. It's located a few blocks from the plaza on Avenida Tullumayu.

Alpaca sweaters are not like they used to be. The only good ones are in upmarket shops.

Lomo Saltado, a popular dish
Lomo Saltado, a popular dish

The Cuzco area has some extremely good international food with tasty options for all budgets. Best pizza ever at the end of the Av. Cultura. There's no need going to the expensive restaurants (which often only serve foreign food anyway), go to the restaurants that serve local food. Be sure to try an alpaca steak (don't forget a llama/alpaca is normally kept and used for its wool - so only old animals will be slaughtered.

But cuy (guinea pig) is the absolute traditional holiday food of the region. A must when visiting a market is to enjoy, in the cold season, "once frozen" / cooked potatoes.

If you are looking for traditional Peruvian food try lomo saltado (beef tips with tomatoes, onions, and spices, over a bed of french fries and rice), aji de gallina(chicken in a very good yellow sauce with olives and hard-boiled eggs), or Papa Rellena (stuffed potato with beef, olives, hard-boiled egg, vegetables, and spices)

Also, try eating at a Chifa. This is the Peruvian version of Chinese food. The neighborhood of Wanchaq has many Chifa restaurants. Try Inca Kola, a bubble gum/tutti-frutti flavored soda. This drink outsells Coca-Cola in Peru; (though it's actually a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola company). Also, Chicha Morada is a Peruvian specialty. It's a spiced drink made out of purple corn. The soups are amazing. Try Sopa de Zapallo (a type of pumpkin soup)

  • El Balcon offers a soup, main course, and desert (no drink) for s/10 which is about $3.33. If you're looking for good quality food for not a lot of money, this is the place to go.
  • Inka Grill, on the Plaza de Armas, is a good restaurant. Well known and frequented by tourists but not a trap. I had a very good meal there, with good service, and a nice selection of wine. Good place to try Cuy (guinea pig), though it is a bit pricey (60 soles) here, and some people have reported mud butt after eating it, it is tastily done and served without the head so eating doesn't remind you of your pet hamster. Try the appetizer tiradito de trucha. Alpaca also on the menu if you must try it.
"Cuy" the regional specialty, roasted guinea pig
"Cuy" the regional specialty, roasted guinea pig
  • El Empridore has two restaurants within the city, both are very reasonably priced. They have a 13 page menu with all sorts of foods from around the world. Try the pisco sour tall, it's the best in the city.
  • There are huge and cheap breakfasts at Yaku Mama at the end of the Gringo Alley.
  • The sister restaurant Yaku Mama Grill on Plaza de Armas has some really good dinners, and a cheerful English-speaking waitress called Yolanda, but is a bit short on the alpacas.
  • Jack's Cafe by the South American Explorers clubhouse at Choquechaca 188 (on the corner) serves fantastic food. Also probably the best coffee in Cusco. This is the best place to get a big breakfast complete with eggs, bacon, avocado, toast. You name it... and they probably have it.
  • Right outside of Jack's is an empanada stand which has the best rocoto (a spicy salsa that goes well on the cheese or meat-stuffed pastries.)
  • MAMA Amerika (former Mama Africa) which actually is everything on 3 levels: snack, cafe (rooftop), restaurant (with a good cheap menu), 2 discos, the latest movies on DVD. Some of the decorations and paintings are by the owner/artist.
  • The Cross Keys Pub looking onto the central square is a pub serving European food to tourists.
  • Kukuly, Nuaynapata 318, is a cozy place with friendly prices also attracting locals, ran by a Swiss guy. Daily menu for 4 soles.
  • If you want some late night food after clubbing go for Los Angelos a very good fast food type restaurant close to Ukuku's near the Plaza de Armas
  • "2 Nations" on Huaynapata, not too far and not too close to the Plaza de Armas, is a new restaurant opened up by an Australian named Matt. The food is excellent (coming from a very large, multi ethnic menu, with an amazing cook to boot), and the service is not just service; chances are you´ll find yourself chatting with Matt himself for half the night. This place is a certainly one of the best restaurants in Cusco, and it will definitely be in all the next travel books. Great prices too!
  • If you are not brave enough to try the empanadas on the street, stop by Meli Melo's near Limacpampa and order an empanada or a Bolivian saltena.
  • Victor Victoria on Calle Tsesequocha, just off Calle Tigre, is fantastic. Super friendly service. Great salad bar buffet included in all main dishes. Gorgeous garlic trout with rice or potatoes for 10 soles (including the salad bar buffet and lovely fresh bread). Great value breakfasts. Huge glasses of freshly squeezed juice for 3.50 soles. Also they have a proper espresso machine for good coffee in the morning.
  • Govindas vegetarian restaurant near Plaza de Armas. Not great. You pay 6 soles for a lousy glass of orange juice mixed with water. Food is just ok, pretty overpriced.
  • Moni Cafe Restaurant, San Agustin 311, has been getting rave reviews for its vegetarian take on Peruvian food since 2001, great stuff.
  • Cicciolinia's, Calle Triunfo 393 (at the end of the alley by the 12-sided stone), is a very tasty place to go for breakfast!
  • If you want something truly more local (and very cheap) and are willing to take risks of not the best methods of cleaning dishes, head over to "el mercado". It's a roofed market where they sell delicious local bread, herbs, juices, souvenirs, DVDs, etc. At the end of the market are the food stands, where they serve local food. For 2 soles you can get soup, an entree, and juice. El Mercado is in front of the train station, all the locals know where the train station and el mercado is. This is where the local workers go for their meals, not exactly a tourist place, but they are friendly towards tourists anyway.
  • El Fogon, Plateros 365 (Just off of Plaza de Armas, top floor), 233596. Nothing fancy but great cheap food: for 10 Soles (about US$3.50) get a meal deal that includes a plate from the salad bar, a selection of soup, a selection of main dish, a dessert and a beverage. Or splurge with their more expensive menu offer for 20 Soles. Very tasty Peruvian food.  edit
  • Bagdad Cafe, (left of the cathedral). This small restaurant seems to produce everything themselves. Local food is extremely good, in the evening small performance groups enter the restaurant and give excellent performances. The prices are midrange, but it is sure worth it.  edit
  • Chifa Status. At avenida la cultura, close to "El Mega" supermarket. Is a good quality and very cheap Chifa. Dishes for 2 or 3 Soles.  edit
  • Puerto Atico, (Perú Steet between Mateo Pumacahua and La Infancia). "The best cevicheria" as a local said to me. The "pueto atico" ceviche that is Pejerey with Pulpo, and the Jalea de Mariscos are the must try.  edit
  • The largest supermarket close to el centro is Mega and is at Plaza Tupac Amaru, on Matará 271 at Av Garcilaso.
  • Gato's Market is on the Plaza de Armas across from Norton Rat's Pub in Portal Belén 115. Small and a bit pricey.

For larger supermarkets, take a combi or taxi a couple of kilometres south on Avenida Cultura to:

  • D'Dinos Market on Av La Cultura 2003. Open 24 hrs, takes credit cards, offers delivery.
  • La Canasta, Av La Cultura 2000-block. Well-stocked.
  • Mega, a few blocks further past La Canasta, on the same side of Cultura. This is the largest supermarket in Cusco.
  • If you are looking for fresh fruits and vegetables, go to one of the open air markets. A good one is called Molino 2. This is close to the airport, so you might need to take a taxi.


There are many clubs and pubs in Cuzco, and there are always people handing out flyers around the Plaza de Armas. These usually include free drinks. The clubs are almost always busy, even during the week, do not usually have cover charges, and most are open until 3 at the earliest and 5 at the latest. The hot spots change nightly; ask around and you will quickly find the crowds of travelers.

  • Mama America, this is a popular place in Cuzco, a lot of people, good music, good atmosphere and free salsa lessons. Salsa starts at about 9 and goes until about 11. If you really want to learn some moves, dance with Carlos, Miguel, or Checo, who work there. It also plays host to the legendary 'crew' - lively lot of Lima ladies whose exploits with gringo males have reached mythical levels. WHERE??
  • If you want to find a place with more locals than the Plaza de Armas, try El Muki, located across the street from Mama America. It has a unique cave-like interior and is one of the city's oldest discos.
  • If you want to get away from the tourist crowd for a while and dance the night away with the locals, head to Caos on la Avenida de la Cultura next to the post office. It's a huge very nice club with a great mix of music and exotic drinks.
  • Mythology is another disco that offers salsa. If you want to learn Rueda Cubana, this is the place to go. Classes usually start around 9 and private lessons can be arranged with Cesar, the dance instructor. Mythology also offers a unique decor of gods and goddesses and has the cleanest restrooms of all of the nightclubs, by far.
  • If you want to dance meringue and salsa all night, head to Garabato's which features a live salsa and meringue band most nights. This is where the salsa crowd goes after 10 or 11 when the other clubs stop playing salsa.
  • If you are looking for live music head to Ukuku's on Plateros 316. Features local and traveling artists that play a variety of different types of music including salsa, meringue, criolla, and afro-peruvian. There are great decorative masks in the walls and a huge wooden woman statue with butterfly wings.
  • Mama Africa is a popular club among tourists which plays a good mix of music and is always full. Just expect to wake up the next day with a bad hangover and awful memories of dancing to ABBA and the BeeGees.
  • If you want some very cheap drinks before you go out dancing try Blue Moon on Tullumayo street. It's a small bar with a local crowd.
  • A very chill restaurant/lounge called Los Perros (Tecsecocha 436) is in San Blas that offers delicious ethnic food and comfortable couches.
  • If you want to hear a great percussion group, a great place to go is the Blue Martini. There is also a hookah lounge close by.
  • The Tea Room New to Cuzco is another chill place chock full of wall, furniture, and sculpture art, not to mention creative cocktails and funky chilled out music. Bring a group to chill and converse and enjoy their creative tea mixes and pastries. Free wi-fi. Avenida Santa Teresa 364, 2nd floor. 12PM-12AM.
  • Norton Rats is sort of a biker bar on the southeast side of the Plaza de Armas. They have pool and darts and a pretty cool atmosphere.
  • Cusco has two Irish pubs. Paddy Flaherty's is at Triunfo 124 next to the cathedral, and serves a very good burger. The bathroom is questionable. Rosie O'Grady's is a block from the Plaza de Armas and is located at Santa Catalina Ancha 360. You can watch soccer or baseball on the big screen, and the staff is very friendly.
  • Uptown is another good club on the square. They will show movies in the afternoon on the projector for your group if you ask (and buy drinks). They have salsa lessons 9-11 at night, then hip hop and techno dancing until morning. Relatively small, but crowded and hoppin.
  • A good place for live music is Angelitos in San Blas, good mix of locals and gringos and always good music. Wednesdays and Saturdays are reggae nights.
  • Le Nomade is a great bar/lounge that features live music every night. Reggae, Latin, Cubano, Afro-Jazz, Blues, Bossa, Funk, Soul, Rock, Española, etc. No cover. Friendly staff. In San Blas, on corner of Choquechaca and Cuesta San Blas 207, 2nd Floor.
  • San Blas - the area 4 blocks up the hill from the Plaza de Armas - where many new hospedajes/hostales have opened.
  • Casa de la Gringa [3] +5184241168 A very unique, cool hostel in which each room has a different theme and features original interntaional art. Comfortable and colorful,, they have free WiFi, cable tv and dvds, common rooms, a beautiful garden, and super staff.
  • Hogar Clinica San Juan de Dios, Avenida Manzanares 264 (Urbanizacion Manuel Prado), +51 84 240 135, [4]. Private and double rooms and windows that look onto the majestic backdrop of Cusco that is a mountain range. Great service and daily egg breakfast made to your liking. This non-profit hostel forward's its earnings to the children's hospital right next door. Enjoy your stay as well as make a charitable contribution!
  • Pirwa Hostel [5] San Francisco Square # 360 Next to the best of Cusco nightlife, this hostel is fun and full of international budget travelers looking for a great time and a good deal. The huge, gorgeous patio here is home to bbqs and events while the huge pool table is a place to chat and chill with friends. Great location and lots of fun! +5184244315
  • Pariwana Hostel, Meson de la Estrella 136, [6]. Two blocks from the Plaza, hot showers, amazing common areas decorated with incredibles local designs, safety, cleanliness  edit
  • Casa de la Gringa 2 [7] +5184254387 This small, friendly hostel is the little sister to Casa de la Gringa, and run by the same helpful, kind owners. They have long-term prices for those who want to stay for a bit, and organize great tours and special trips to the mountains. Address: Carmen Bajo 226. WiFi integral. Rooms a bit small, no TV's. But good value for the price. 40 Soles includes breakfast.
  • Flying Dog Hostel [8] Choquechaca 469 +5184253997 Great, personal hostel with a wide range of rooms, all at amazing prices. Free wifi (in lobby, not room), breakfast, lockers, and coffee and tea all day. Check out their bar, and ask them to arrange tours for you. Friendly staff.
  • Hospedaje Estrellita, Avenida Tullumayo 445. Shared double rooms surround a large concrete courtyard. There is a kitchen with a sociable commonroom with cable TV. A night cost 15 soles and includes a small breakfast. It's popular with gringos.
  • LOKI Backpackers Hostel, Cuesta Santa Ana #601, Centro Historico, ph: +51 (0) 84 243705 (email:[9]), [10]. A proper party hostel set up by 4 backpackers in a 450 year old Peruvian national monument. Huge hostel with about 180 beds. Dorms from $6. Wifi in the new bar. Tea and coffee available for free all day at the entrance and at the bar. The basic bread, butter and jam breakfast is included, but you can order decent food at bar all day (scrambled eggs on toast for less than $1). Excellent evening menus served for ~$3, busy bar on weekend evenings, generally noisy place to stay, but loads of fun. Hot water with pressure in generally shared showers. If you like European-style hostels and want to meet young, hip travelers this is the place to be. Note that it is far enough from Plaza de Armas (and uphill) that you will want to take a taxi for 3 or 4 soles. Most taxi drivers now know the hostel by name. Make sure they drive down Cuesta Santa Ana rather than trying to drop you off at the top or the bottom of the hill, as it is a bit of a hike with your bags. Extra perks include a 1PM checkout and small lockers in reception that have plug sockets in them.
  • The WalkOn Inn, Calle Suecia 504, ph: +51 (0) 84 235065 (email:[11]), [12], has very beautiful rooms with private or shared bathroom and two small dorms. The place has a nice patio with a fireplace, it's completely clean and there is another sitting room with tv and cable and a computer with free internet on which to burn your own CD's or DVD's. WiFi freely available, laundry service at hand and good yet affordable brekkies. All of this at 2 blocks from the main square, close to the centre of 'fiesta' yet far enough not to be disturbed by it. Pressurized hot water available around the clock.
  • Casa Arco Iris, Calle Arco Iris 535, Barrio San Cristobal, ph: +51 (0) 84 247526. Set in a centuries old building, the friendly owners have only being running Casa Arco Iris since early 2006, so it is still a bit empty, making it very calm and quiet. Rooms from $4.
  • Rimacpampa Hostal Close to the plaza, [13]. Amazingly hot showers, with good water pressure (Hard to come by in Peru). TV and good food also.
  • Home Sweet Home -EL MIRADOR [14]. Located at the charming area of Cusco , with full of small bars,restaurants and cafes.The view from the Hotel is amazing.Tv cable , Free Internet and Wi-Fi in all the house, hot showers and towels available,and warm bed available. Also you can use the kitchen. Only 6 blocks from the Main Square. Asociacion San marcos A-3.San Blas -Cusco Tf:0051 84 231235
  • Hostal "Sweet Daybreak" at Mirador de San Blas [15] This hostal has one of the best panoramic views in town. The hostal offers showers with hot gas-heated water 24h, cable TV, wireless internet, laundry, cafeteria, free tourist information, a lovely garden, dormitories, private rooms with or without bathroom. A comfortable and safe stay. 'Direction': Calle Pasñapakana 133, a 2 minutes walk from the Plazoleta San Blas, 4 blocks from the Plaza de Armas (Main Square) Tel: 0051(0)84 225776
  • Hospedaje Corona Real, Av Huascar 226, 808111. Quiet and cheap option about 15 minutes walk from the city center. Rooms are spacious and have private bathroom and local television and cost 15 soles pppn.
  • Hostal Familiar, Calle Saphi 661, three blocks from Plaza de Armas. Singles go for $8 @ night with private bathroom + hot water.
  • San Blas Hospedaje In the heart of San Blas. Nice interior sitting area, some rooms have views. Cable TV, WiFi. Rooms basic but clean and nice. Family-run. Hot water 24 hrs. [16] 60 Soles includes breakfast.
  • Hostal Central Choquechaca #298. A new, affordable, simple but clean hotel in the heart of San Blas. Some rooms have views onto the street, others are to interior courtyard. No breakfast, no internet. 30 Soles.
  • Qori Ñusta Inn Breakfast, cable TV, WiFi, friendly staff. Big rooms some with desks and refrigerator even. Posted prices are high, but they can be talked down to 45/Soles per night. Calle Chiwampata 515, on the edge of San Blas. Tel: 084-228299 WARNING: the night person went into my room and looked through my stuff while I was out. On two separate occasions. Nothing was stolen, but I wouldn't stay here again for this reason.
  • Amaru Hostal I, [17] Cuesta San Blas 541. Quiet and cheap option about 3 blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Rooms are decent sized; Rooms have private or shared bath facilities and television. Rooms cost between $30 USD to $55 USD per room depending on type of bed(s), occupancy and season. email:
  • Amaru Hostal II [18], Chihuampata 642. Quiet and cheap option about 2-3 blocks from the Plaza de Armas. Rooms cost between $30 USD to $48 USD per room depending on type of bed(s), occupancy and season. email:
  • Hotel El Balcon, 222 Tambo de Montero, a short distance from Plaza de Armas, awesome interior design, delicious breakfast and moderate prices. From Plaza de Armas, follow Plateros a block and a half or so. The hotel is in a lane up the hill. About half a block up, look for the door on the right. The sign is above the door, so you may not see it unless you walk on the opposite side of the lane.
  • Hoteles Garcilaso, Calle Garcilaso 233-285. There are two of them on the same block. Good location on the block between the Plaza San Francisco and the other small plaza that is one block from the Plaza de Armas. I stayed here in a double for $75 dollars a night (I paid too much). It is a good option but you should not pay what I paid (haggling hotel rooms should be your default). It is worth more like $30-45 per night. As in a lot of places, the inside rooms are the way to go because they are quiet at night. Tel 51-84/ 233031, 233501, 227951, 222425. [19]
  • Orquidea Real, Calle Alabado 520, (email:[20]) [21] The colonial building has original Inca walls and exposed wood beams, and the rustic accommodations are simply decorated in a cozy mountain lodge aesthetic. All rooms are oriented toward Cuzco below, offering panoramic views.
  • Gran Hostal Machu Picchu, Calle Quera 282, ph: +51 (0) 84 23 1111.
  • Hostal Rumi Punku, Calle Choquechaca 339. Hostal Rumi Punku is an attractive hotel in old Cusco. Rumi Punku means "stone door" in Quechua: the entrance to the hotel leads through an ancient stone door, obviously of Inca design. The doorway is all that has survived of an Inca palace: today the door is considered a historic construction by the city of Cusco.
  • Casa San Blas Boutique Inn, Tucoyeros 566. The hotel is situated in San Blas, which has been the historic artisan's quarter of Cusco since Inca times, and lies just two and a half blocks from the main square. It is a neighborhood of narrow, picturesque cobbled streets and whitewashed colonial-era houses, with red-tiled roofs and wooden balconies. Ultra-friendly staff and affordable, charming rooms.
  • Koyllur Hostal, Calle Carment Bajo 186, San Blas. [22] A richly decorated, nice place to splash out for a few nights. Big buffet breakfasts. Ask for room at top floor in the front - has skylights, lots of room, nice furnishings. Cable TV, WiFi, etc. $20 USD in off-season.
  • Libertador Palacio del Inka - [23] Cusco Hotel Libertador Palacio del Inka located in the center of the city and bild in the 4 Bustos house. History tells that this Cusco Hotel was part of the Koricancha Temple and during colonial times it became property of the conqueror Francisco Pizarro.
  • Amerinka Boutique Hotel - [24] modern hotel that combines warm room atmospheres with professional and experienced attention. Well located near Plaza de armas
  • The Garden House Hotel, Tel +51-(0)84-271117 (email: [25]), [26]. A fabulous family-run boutique hotel set in the largest private garden in Cusco. Beautifully decorated, modern (WiFi etc), and just the perfect place to stay if you want to have a genuinely non-touristy experience (in one of the most touristy cities in the world).
  • Hotel Royal Inka I or II, [27] Located right in front of the Plaza Regocijo, about 150 meters from la Plaza de Armas. Royal Inka I is a renovated house while Royal Inka II is more modern with a spa (jacuzzi and steam room). There is a great breakfast.
  • Hotel Monasterio, Calle Palacios 136, Plazoleta Nazarenas, ph: +51 (0) 84 24 1777, (email: [28]), [29]. Housed in a former monastery, the Hotel Monasterio is a beautiful hotel that is steeped in history. The rooms are former monks' cells, but they are far from monastic. By far the most expensive place to stay Cuzco. If you are looking for luxury in Cuzco, this is the place to find it. (avoid rooms 414 through 419, which are near a noisy generator)
  • Hotel Marqueses Calle Garcilaso N° 256, ph: (+51 84) 264249(email: [30]), [31]. The official hotel of SAS travel. The hotel personnel are outstanding and the rooms are more than comfortable. The hotel is centrally located in the heart of the tourist district, only two blocks from the Plaza des Armas.
  • Drugs - Drug law enforcement is very severe in Peru - that is, years in prison and no pleasure. Consider that many "long resident tourists" are part of the scene. It is already a felony that you "consider to maybe accept" an offer to buy.
  • Although Cuzco is, in general, relatively safe, as in any urban area, muggings and petty thefts do occur. Use common sense and you should be fine. Don't wander alone away from the Plaza de Armas late at night. Don't flaunt your valuables around. Be conscious of what is going on around you. For example, be wary if you are approached by people trying to sell you stuff in the streets and try to strike up a long conversation. It's possible that they are distracting you while someone else is pickpocketing you. Only take taxis that are well marked, and if you are taking a taxi alone at night, write down the number and call a friend (or pretend to call a friend if you don't have a phone) saying, so the driver can hear, that you are coming home in taxi #... Also, try not to set yourself apart as a clueless tourist by wearing expensive or flashy clothing or revealing clothing in a particularly conservative region of Peru (the locals do not wear shorts and tank-tops around).
  • Watch for the feral dogs that hit the streets at night, rummaging through trash. Peruvians love dogs, and most of the time the animals are friendly. Just use common sense and project confidence and you shouldn't be bothered.

There are a number of beggars in the streets of Cuzco, most of them children. They will tell you the money is for schooling. Giving to beggars is a moral decision each individual can make. If you don't want them to follow you around, a stern 'no' will suffice. Please see the article on Begging.

  • There is a clinic called "Hampi Land" on Choquechaka street just a few blocks away from the Plaza de Armas, and about one block away from "Jack's Restaurant".
  • Should you get sick, there is an excellent private clinic, also advised by locals, called Clinica San Josè[32], Av. Los Incas 1408-B, Phone +5184253295, providing general and specialistic assistance with all the modern medical diagnostic apparels. Usually they provide a private room with two beds, one for the patient and one for an accompanying person but be sure to carry a travel insurance with you otherwise be prepared to pay a lot of money. They'll get in contact with your insurance company to arrange things in order to have the latter paying directly the clinic on your exit. Personnel speaking English is generally available and they are prepared to assist foreigners.
Amazing Inca walls at Sacsayhuamán
Amazing Inca walls at Sacsayhuamán
  • Visit The Four Archaeological Ruins Nearby. The closest and largest of these ruins is the amazing Inca Sacsayhuamán (sometimes called Saqsaywaman and pronounced "Sexy Woman") ruins high above Cuzco. It is a steep climb from the Plaza de Armas up Plateros street which changes to Saphi. Look for the long staircase on the right, follow the paved curvy road up to the next cobblestone pedestrian path and follow this climb past the first closed control point to the second control. No need to take a cab if you can handle it. But, be careful, as robberies have been reported in mornings and evenings. There is a charge to explore the ruins at the second control or present your the boleto turistico. Those on a budget can get a sense of the ruins without paying by walking up the hill and up to the entrance. You can then walk to the adjacent hill with the big Jesus on it and look down on the city. However, the sheer size of the stones that were moved and the importance of the battle there make it worth entrance fee. Read up on the battle beforehand as the guides don't discuss it. Also, a view of the circular base of the former tower as shown in many of the photos is not possible due to the protective ropes. Go earlier in the morning as later visits are disrupted by whistles from guards telling unobservant tourists to get off the ruins.

The Second site up the road from Sacsayhuamán is Qenko or Q'enqo. Take the cumbi shared busses up the hill for one sole or take a walk of about one half to one kilometer up a gradual incline to visit the site. Its name means "Zig-Zag" in Quecha, and probably refers to the Zig-Zag channels carved into a rock. Explore the pass through cave and view the altar on which llamas were sacrificed. The large erect stone shown on the boleto turistico is a solar calendar. On each side of the stone is a square wall two stones high. Each stone is representative of a number of days, the total is the total days in the year. Opposite the stone are the familiar windows in which mummies and human remains were discovered. Accessible with the boleto turistico

Pukapukara means red fort and is named after the red hue of the hillsides nearby. The third site along the route, even heartier walkers will find the walk a bit long and a bit steep despite the paved and well traveled road. However, the views along the walk are great and small mud brick bars are intermittent between the sites. Hire a taxi or take a cumbi shared bus up from Qenko for one sole to save time and energy. A larger site than Q'enqo, the guides have more to say about this site. It was likely a checkpoint or military control. Offerings of coca leaves amongst other things were received here. Accessible with the boleto turistico

Tambomachay is the farthest ruin on the route from Cuzco. It is a small site with an ornamental fountain whose source is unknown as reportedly archaeologists lack the tools necessary to determine the source without damaging the site. Likely it is an underground spring. In several Incan sites such as Ollentaytambo water sources were covered or underground to protect the water supply from poisoning. Accessible with the boleto turistico. Bathrooms are free with the Boleto. Take a cumbi all the way back to plaza de las armas in Cuzco for one sole.

Hitting all four sites in one day: If interested, pay/negotiate for a guide at the second control at Sacsayhuamán to tour you through all four sites. Ask the guard at the ticket control which guides have been through the government training. Expect between 60 and 80 soles depending upon the season which is about 15 to 20 soles per site. Allow 4 to 5 hours for the trip when taking the Cumbis shared busses. Pack a snack although water is available along the way. Bathrooms (clean and well maintained) are only available at the final site Tambomachay. A boleto turisitico is recommended as control points exist at three of the four sites and are carefully monitored.

If you don't want to hire a guide, then you could take a taxi or combi to Tambomachay/Pukapukara and walk back down the hill to the remaining sites. This is much kinder on the legs! If you go to the first two sites in the morning, there is a backpacker's cafe about 250m down the road on the right that does tasty and inexpensive sandwiches and very good fruit juice. The walk down to Q'enqo and Sacsayhuamán has nice views.

  • Pisac - Visit the colorful market and climb up to the expansive ruins to the religious site and cemetery behind. Twenty miles from Cuzco. Accessible with the boleto turistico.
  • Ollantaytambo - visit the religous center that during the spanish conquest doubled as a fortress. A great place to visit on the return from Machu Picchu or an alternative if you don't want to visit Machu Picchu. Great place to stay too. Forty eight miles from Cuzco. Accessible with the boleto turistico.
  • Moray (Peru) - Visit the agricultural lab of the incas. Several cocentric circles up to 150 meters deep caused temperature changes of between 2-4°C. Seeds were developed here and spread throughout the empire. Forty two miles from Cuzco. Accessible with the boleto turistico.
  • Tipon - Visit the farming terraces, water channels and long staircases believed to be a part of the Incan royal estate. Here sits the largest hydraulic system built by the incas (much of it still functioning) as well as an Incan cemetary. Fourteen miles from Cuzco. Accessible with the boleto turistico.
  • Lake Titicaca PeruRail [33] connects Cuzco to Juliaca and Puno, and the journey is one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world, passing both through amazing scenery and the middle of small towns. The journey should take 10 hours, but there are often delays. The 'scenic stop' included at La Raya is a bit of a waste of time, though it's included anyway. *Forget the Train, take the bus! There are several buses that travel to Lake Titicaca, which are compareably priced, and takes less time. They also stop at 5 or 6 interesting spots along the trip, including the "Sistine Chapel of South America" Prices have increased recently, and the cheap backpacker train no longer runs this route, having been sent to the Poroy (Cusco) - Macchu Pichu line. The trip from Cusco to Puno runs about $220 each way now.
Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
  • Machu Picchu - the atmospheric ruin perched below the Andes and above the jungle. For the best experience, walk there on the Inca Trail, which is certainly worth the exercise! There are numerous tour companies which organise such trips, costing $365-450 USD with all travel costs. As of April 2008, a one-way trip on PeruRail [34] costs $71 for Vistadome class, and $58 Backpacker class. This journey takes about 4 hours if travelling the whole way, but most people coming back from Machu Picchu get off at Poroy and take a connecting bus to Cuzco. This saves a about 45 minutes, as after this stop, the train does switchbacks to get down the hill to the train station in Cuzco.
  • Choquequirao - Those that weren't able or didn't know to book the Machu Picchu trek three months in advance can visit this site which is described by some to be as impressive as the Machu Picchu site but without the crowds. The site is only accessible by a four day trek.
  • Puno - Visiting Lake Titicaca is the perfect way to complete a journey to the Southern Andes. It is possible to travel from Cusco taking a direct 30 minutes flight, traveling by train or by road, which allows stopping at various interesting sites on the route such as Andahuaylillas, Piquillacta, Tipon, Huaro, Raqchi or Lampa as well as witnessing stunning landscapes.

There are several smaller bus terminals in Cuzco that travel to other destinations around the Sacred Valley of the Incas:

  • Av. Grau 525 -- Cuzco - Chinchero - Urubamba.
  • Calle Puputi 208 --- Cuzco - Pisac - Yucay - Urubamba.
  • Av. Tullumayo 207 --- Cuzco - Pisac - Calca.
  • Av. De La Cultura 1320 --- Cuzco - Urcos ( Tipon - Piquillacta - Andahuaylilas).
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!

Simple English

City nickname: "La Ciudad Imperial"
("The Imperial City")
File:Location of the city of Cusco in
Mayor Carlos Valencia
 - Total

278 590 (1998 estimate)
Time zone UTC-5
Height 3399 m
13°30'45" S
71°58'33" W
Official website:
Cusco is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Huatanay Valley (Sacred Valley) in the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of Cusco Region. The city has a population of about 300 000, triple the population it contained just 20 years ago. Alternate spellings include Qusqu (in old Quechua), Cusco, (after the Spanish arrived), and Qosqo current Quechua. Cusco is the preferred way to spell it in Spanish.


Inca history

[[File:|thumb|left|The Church of La Compañía on the Plaza de Armas in Cusco]] Cusco was the capital of Tahuantinsuyu (or Inca Empire). The city was planned to be shaped like a puma. The city had two areas: the hurin and hanan, which were further divided to each be part of two of the four provinces of the Inca Empire: Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Cuntisuyu (SW), and Collasuyu (SE).

A road led from each of these quarters to the corresponding quarter of the empire. Each local leader was required to build a house in the city and live part of the year in Cusco, but only in the quarter of Cusco that corresponded to the quarter of the empire he had territory in.

According to Inca legend, the city was built by Sapa Inca Pachacuti, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cusco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire of Tahuantinsuyu. But archaeological evidence points to a slower, more organic growth of the city beginning before Pachacutieven though he did initiate growth in the city after defeating the Chancas as a monument to Incan glory. There was however a city plan, and two rivers were channeled around the city.

Post-Columbian Cusco

The first Spanish soldiers arrived in the city on November 15, 1533. Spanish conquistador, or conqueror, Francisco Pizarro, however, officially refounded Cusco on March 23, 1534, naming it the "Very noble and great city of Cusco". The many buildings constructed after the Spanish conquest have Spanish influence with a mix of Inca architecture. The Spanish made a new city on the foundations of the old Inca city, replacing Incan temples with churches and palaces for the Spanish. In the colony, the city of Cusco was very rich, thanks to the agriculture, cattle raising, mining and trade with Spain. Many churches and convents were built, and even a Cathedral, and the Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad del Cusco.

[[File:|thumb|250px|Koricancha temple and Church of Santo Domingo]] The major earthquake that hit Cusco in 1950 badly destroyed the Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, which were built on top of the impressive Koricancha (Temple of the Sun). The city's Inca architecture, however, survived the earthquake. Many of the old Inca walls were thought to have been lost after the earthquake, but the granite walls of the Koricancha were exposed, as well as many walls throughout the city. While some wanted to restore the buildings to their colonial splendor, some of Cusco citizens urged city officials to retain the exposed walls. Eventually they won out and now tourists from around the world enjoy looking at these ruins within the living city. The 1950 earthquake was the second time that the Dominican Priory had been destroyed, the first being in 1650 when another major earthquake struck Cusco.

Nearby sights

Other nearby Inca sites are: Pachacuti's presumed winter home Machu Picchu, which can be reached by a lightly maintained Inca trail; the "fortress" at Ollantaytambo; and the "fortress" of Sacsayhuaman which is approximately two kilometers from Cusco. Other less visited ruins include Inca Wasi, the highest of all Inca sites at 3,980 m (13,134 feet), and Old Vilcabamba the capital of the Inca after the Spanish took over Cusco.

The surrounding area, located in the Huatanay Valley, is strong in agriculture. There is corn, barley, quinoa, tea, and coffee grown.

Cusco's main stadium, Estadio Garcilaso de la Vega, attracted many tourists during South America's continental soccer championship, the Copa América 2004, which was held in Peru.

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