City of Cusco

Located south of the Peruvian Andes at 3,400 masl, Cusco was the hegemonic center of the Tahuantinsuyo empire and the most important urban center of ancient Peru at this time.

The city, founded by the Inca Mnco Capac, was made up of large palaces, temples and courts (houses), with streets and squares, surrounded by extensive areas for agriculture, crafts and pre-industrial production, reaching its greatest development during the reign of the Inca Pachacutec in the fifteenth century.

When the Spanish conquered the Inca Empire in 1534, they founded and built the Spanish city on Inca enclosures and buildings, which can still be seen.

Despite the passage of time and turned into one of the most attractive cities for tourism in Latin America, Cusco maintains a remarkable monumental ensemble and the coherence of its urban layout; its streets interspersed with the same magnetism, colonial constructions and Inca walls, churches and pagan temples, archaeological sites and rural haciendas.

The city of Cusco was inscribed on the World Heritage List in the year 1983.


Useful Information

Weather

Cusco City has a semi-dry and cold climate.

SEMI-DRY AND COLD.

Maximum temperature
21°C
70°F

How to get there

BY AIR

Regular flights to Cusco City from Lima (1 hour) and from Arequipa (30 minutes).

BY LAND

Lima-Arequipa-Cusco: 1,650 Km
(26 hours by car)
Lima-Nazca-Puquio-Abancay-Cusco: 1,131 Km
(20 hours by car)
Puno-Cusco: 389 Km
(7 hours by car)

BY TRAIN

Puno-Cusco: 384 Km
(10 hours) 

Distance from the city of Cusco

Acomayo
(Acomayo Province)
104.5 Km / 3 hours
Anta
(Anta Province)
26 Km / 30 minutes
Calca
(Calca Province)
50 Km / 1 hour 15 minutes
Yanaoca
(Canas Province)
165 Km / 3 hours
Sicuani
(Canchis Province)
138 Km / 2 hours
Santo Tomás
(Chumbivilcas Province)
240 Km / 10 hours
Yauri
(Espinar Province)
241 Km / 7 hours
Quillabamba
(La Convención Province)
210 Km / 6 hours
Paruro (Paruro Province)
64 Km / 2 hours
Paucartambo (Paucartambo Province)
Altitude
Lowest
532 masl (Pilcopata)
Highest
6,384 masl (Ausangate Peak)

How long to stay
In three days, visitors can see the city. If you wish to visit the historic sites and enjoy nature, it is essential to stay five days.

ROUTES AND TIMES

1 DAY

Historic Centre / 4 hours.
Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary 118 Km / 4 hours 20 minutes.
Sacred Valley:
Pisac 32 Km / 50 minutes.
Yucay 68 Km / 1 hour 30 minutes.
Urubamba 78 Km / 1 hour 25 minutes.
Ollantaytambo: 97 Km / 2 hour 30 minutes.
Chinchero 28 Km / 45 minutes.
Q'eswachaka Suspension Bridge 110 Km / 2 hours 15 minutes.
Pikillacta 30 Km / 45 minutes.
Baroque Andean Trail 36 Km / 1 hour.
Maras Village 48 Km / 1 hour.
Moray Archaeological Complex 58 Km / 1 hour 30 minutes.

2 DAYS

Cuatro Lagunas (Four Lagoons) Trail 107 Km / 2 hours 10 minutes.
Raqchi Archaeological Complex 117 Km / 2 hours.
Tipón Archaeological Complex 25 Km / 45 hours.

4 DAYS

Inca Trail 82 Km from the Cusco-Machu Picchu railway track (40 Km to the Machu Picchu citadel).
Choquequirao Archaeological Complex 93 Km (from Abancay to Cachora) / 16 hours (from Cachora).
Tres Cruces (Three Crosses) 154 Km / 5 hours 30 minutes. 

Attractions in the City

Cuzco Plaza de Armas
Visiting Hours : Daytime and at night.

Location : Surrounded by the city's cathedral and the Compañía de Jesús.

Cusco

In Inca times, it was called "Huacaypata," a Quechua word meaning a place of meeting or of weeping. It was an important ceremonial site, where the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun was celebrated each year. It was also the site where Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cuzco. With the arrival of the Spanish, the plaza was transformed: they built stone arches and erected the buildings that still surround it to this day.

Cuzco Cathedral
Visiting Hours : Mon - Sun 10.00 am to 6.00 pm, including public holidays.

Location : Plaza de Armas.

Cusco

Construction occurred in two phases: first the Chapel of Triumph was built on what had been the ancient temple of Suntur Wasi (House of God); afterwards, the cathedral was erected on the palace of the Inca Wiracocha. The Renaissance style dominates the façade and the interior, which features particularly exquisite carvings in cedar and alder. The choir and the pulpit are both remarkable for their beauty. It houses an important collection of paintings from the Cuzco School and silver-embossed objects.

Temple of La Compañía de Jesús (Society of Jesus)
Visiting Hours : Monday through Friday 9 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. / Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.

Location : Plaza de Armas.

Cusco

The original temple was built in 1571 on the lands of the ancient Amarucancha, palace of the Inca Huayna Cápac. It was rebuilt around 1688 after the 1650 earthquake. The original design and the façade are examples of the Andean Baroque style. The "altarpiece-type" façade is decorated with towers of medium height, and its stone walls were skilfully sculpted. Notable within the temple are the high altar made of three parts and salomonic columns, the wooden pulpit, and numerous altarpieces in the Baroque, plateresque and churrigueresque styles. Among the works of art, "The Marriage of Martín García de Loyola to Beatriz Clara Coya" stands out.

San Blas neighbourhood
Visiting Hours : Daytime.

Location : 4 blocks from the Plaza de Armas.

Cusco

Named "T'oqokachi or hueco de sal" (salt hole), with steep, narrow streets and lovely colonial-style houses. It is known as the artisan's neighbourhood. Many families offer accommodation in their homes. 

Attractions Beyond the City

Sacsayhuamán Archaeological Complex (Cuzco)
Visiting Hours : Monday–Sunday and holidays 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location : 2 km north-east of Cuzco (10 minutes by car).
Cusco
The complex comprises 33 archaeological sites, the best known of which is the Sacsayhuaman Fortress. The building was probably used for religious purposes but, due to its location and style, the Spanish and contemporary writers assumed it was a military structure. The consensus among historians suggests that the construction of Saqsayhuaman began at the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th century, under the leadership of Inca Pachactueq. In terms of how long the construction took, contemporary references indicate it took around 60 years. Saqsayhuaman would have held the most important temple in Hanan Qosqo or Upper Cuzco, dedicated to Andean cosmology, worship of the Inti (Sun), Quilla (Moon), Chaska (Stars), Illapa (Lightning) and the other divinities. The building qualifies as a cyclopean construction due to the size of its stones, some of which weigh between 90 and 128 tonnes. On 24 June each year, the fortress is the setting for the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun.

Qenko archaeological complex (Cusco)
Visiting Hours : Monday–Sunday and holidays 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location : 3 km north-west of Cuzco (10 minutes by car).
Cusco
Qenko or "labyrinth" is considered a sacred place in which ceremonies were performed in honour of the Sun, the Moon and the stars.

Puka Pukara Archaeological Complex (Cuzco)
Visiting Hours : Monday–Sunday and holidays 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location : 7 km north-east of Cuzco (15 minutes by car and 2 hours on foot).
Cusco
The complex holds numerous halls, inner plazas, aqueducts, watchtowers and paths. Its role would have been a "tambo" or a place of rest and lodging. According to legend, each time the Inca visited Tambomachay, he was accompanied by a large retinue that stayed in Puka Pukara. Its fortified appearance led to it being called a fortress.

Tambomachay Archaeological Complex (Cuzco)
Visiting Hours : Monday–Sunday and holidays 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Location : 7.5 km north-west of Cuzco (20 minutes by car).
Cusco
The building would probably have had an important religious role linked to water and the regeneration of the earth. The site stretches over approximately half a hectare, and the material used for its construction was polygon-shaped limestone.

Gastronomy

Timpo or Puchero

A dish prepared on Shrove Tuesday, consisting of boiling a cow's breast, head of lamb, bacon and legs, then adding whole leaves of cabbage, potatoes, moraya, chickpeas and rice. In a separate pot boiled sweet potatoes, peaches, pears and yuccas. Both foods are served in separate plates, similar to "parboiled", but covering the ingredients with a cabbage leaf.

Lawa de Chuño

It is a typical food that is consumed at any time of the year. Boil a broth of meat with sausages, rice, chickpeas and potatoes of regular size. Then add chuño dissolved in cold water and cook until it takes point. Generally, this dish is eaten with a wooden spoon, called huislla.

Stuffed hot pepper

For this stew large rocotos are looked for, the tip is cut and the peps of the interior are removed with great care so as not to break them. Then they are subjected to three boils. The filling is prepared with ground meat, peanuts, raisins and peas, seasoned to taste. Already stuffed they are coated with beaten egg and fried in hot oil. They are served garnished with golden potatoes.

Pepy from Cuy

Choose the meat that you want, pass the animal through boiling water and peel it carefully. Take out the viscera. Cartelo in four pieces and on each of them sprinkle corn flour before frying in hot oil. In another saucepan, prepare a dressing of onion, golden garlic and aji colorado. The guinea pigs are placed on the dressing and they add peanuts. It is served with grained rice and parboiled potatoes.

Olluco with Meat

Stew ollucos and cecina or llama meat.

Lawa

Fresh corn soup, beans, dried yellow aji and huacatay.

Kapchi

Stew or broth made from broad beans ( or mushrooms and potatoes), with milk, eggs and cheese.

Humita

Made with a fresh corn filling, these can be either sweet or savory, wrapped in corn leaves. Steam-cooked or baked.

Adobo

Pork marinated in fermented corn, ('chicha') and spices, cooked in a pot.

Chicharrón with mote

Pork meat cooked in its own fat and accompanied by mote or threshed corn.

Tamal

Made with a dry corn filling, these can be either sweet or savory, wrapped in corn leaves. Steam-cooked.

Chairo

Soup made from beef and lamb, potatoes, broad beans, cabbage, 'chuño', wheat and chalona or mutton jerky.

Bebida Típica
La chicha de jora es una bebida ancestral en el Peru y America, y su principal ingrediente es la jora o maiz fermentado. Los antiguos peruanos descubrieron el arte de hacer chicha de Jora de manera casual, y aunque su origen fue modesto, esa bebida llega a ser la mas importante del imperio Inca. 

FESTIVALS

Ch'iaraje
Cusco

Begins: 20-January-2017
Ends: 20-January-2017

Ritual fight between the Checa y Quehue communities, who fight in a war game in order to bring about soil fertility. The community that takes the most land is the winner. Men, armed with slingshots, leather whips and sticks, wear vests with flowers. Women help by looking after the horses and collecting stones, cheering on the with their singing.

Cusco Carnival
Cusco

Begins: 01-February-2017
Ends: 31-March-2017

Celebration that unites the Cusco population through joy and restrained games. Cusco carnivals start with the Compadres y Comadres festival two Thursdays before the main Carnival day; then "Yunzas o Cortamontes" takes place, which is the main attraction of this festival. Likewise, a Carnival Parade marches through the centre of Cusco, together with the carnival food festival, which has T'impu or Pucher at its centre.

Toqto Fights
Cusco

Begins: 02-February-2014
Ends: 02-February-2014

Held at a place called Tocto, between the Yanaoca and Livitaca districts. They last three days, evoking fights to win more land for crops. On the first day, participants settle in the area, on the second day, individual fights are held and, later, groups of five and up to ten people are formed. After eating and drinking, they all fight until the third day, when the wounded are picked up and qhaswa (rounds where losers and winners celebrate) is held.

Lord of Torrechayoc
Cusco

Begins: 01-June-2017
Ends: 04-June-2017

This festival dates back to 1860, when an enormous cross was placed in the snow, and a mass was held to celebrate the opening of a section of highway (Urubamba-Lares). Some years later, the cross was carried to the city of Urubamba, where it is worshipped. In addition to the mass, the cross is carried in a procession with all its jewels. Celebrations include fireworks, dance parades, bullfights and cockfights.

Inti Raymi
Cusco

Begins: 24-June-2017
Ends: 24-June-2017

Inti Raymi is the Festival of the Sun, which coincides with the winter solstice and harvest time. The ceremony takes place in Sacsayhuaman Fortress, where attendees follow a detailed script and sacrifice two llamas to tell the future. The Inca presides over the ceremony in Cusco's main square and demands that the authorities govern well. At sunset, the Inca announces the end and a merry celebration starts.

Location:

Sacsayhuamán esplanade (3,600 masl), 2 km from Cusco. The Municipal body for Cusco Festivals provides the necessary services: comfortable fibreglass seats, portable toilets, a tourist information cabin and first aid and security services (police and private), which allow the festival to be enjoyed in comfort.

Location and timetable of events:

9 a.m. Qorikancha. Enactment begins – Duration of approximately 30 minutes.
10:30 a.m. Auqaypata (Plaza de Armas square) – Duration of approximately 45 minutes.
1:30 p.m. Main enactment in the Sacred Saqsaywaman Square - Duration of approximately 2 hours.
Booking requirements: reservations can be made at Emufec

Corpus Christi
Cusco

Begins: 14-June-2017
Ends: 22-June-2017

A procession of images of fifteen patron saints that are extremely revered in the city. Musical and folkloric groups take part in the procession. The typical and classical dish at this festival is the "chiri uchu", roasted guinea pig with toasted corn, rocoto peppers, parboiled chicken, cheese, seaweed, sausage, fish roe and corn tortillas. On the main day there is a procession of all the Saints and Virgins around the main square and then the images enter the Cathedral to pay their respects.

huayna Picchu or

Best Season:Spring, Summer, Winter
Koricancha es la muestra contundente de la fusión de las culturas Inca e hispana. En las bases de lo que fue el Templo del Sol de los antiguos peruanos, se construyó la iglesia y el convento de Santo Domingo. El templo es un símbolo de la imposición occidental. Una muestra viviente de la convivencia del pasado autóctono con la arquitectura europea.
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