Is Cusco going to be your next destination? And you have no idea which places to visit? Don’t worry, we have prepared a detailed guide for you so you will know which places you need to visit in Cusco. Let’s discover Cusco!
Are you excited for your trip to Peru and especially Cusco? We have collected all the sites you have to see when you visit this marvellous city. In case you don’t have so much time to visit Cusco, we created a short list of all the places you must see.
You might also like to check our list of 8 free things to do in Cusco, because enjoyment doesn’t have to cost money. 😁
Principal tourist sights in Cusco
La Catedral de Cusco
The Cusco Cathedral or Basilica de la the Virgin de la Asunción is the main religious temple of the city of Cusco. It was built with blocks extracted from an Inca site very close to Sacsayhuamán between the years 1560 and 1664. The stones were carved from here to built several imporant structures, like the palace of the Inca Wiracocha.
This cathedral is one of the largest examples of colonial art in Cusco and it houses countless works of the school of Cusco. Under which, approximately 300 paintings and original furniture, among others its carved wooden altars.
La Plaza de Armas
The majestic Plaza de Armas of Cusco is one of the most important symbols of the Inca culture in Peru. In Inca times it was called “Haucaypata”, a Quechua word that means place of the warrior. Currently the Plaza de Armas is located in the heart of Cusco’s historic center and is surrounded by restaurants, jewelry stores, travel agencies and tourist shops.
Around the Plaza you can see the Cathedral and the Church of La Compañía. You can also see the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, a museum dedicated to highlighting the art of the different ancient cultures of Peru.
La Piedra de los 12 Ángulos
The Stone with the 12 Corners is a block of stone that dates back to the time of the Incas. You can find this stone in Calle Hatun Rumiyoc in the historic centre of Cusco. The 12 corners of the stone fit perfectly among the other pieces in the wall.
When you stand it front of it, you will see that it is so perfectly structured, that you cannot even get a needle through its holes. The Piedra de los 12 Ángulos is a clear example of the level of engineering and technology with which the Incas built their constructions. And of course, the degree of precision with which they used to work. 📐
El Barrio San Blas
The San Blas neighborhood is also known as the artisans’ neighborhood. It is located a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas, and is home to the most renowned popular artists of the city. Its streets are steep and narrow with old “casonas“: large houses built by the Spaniards on top of important Inca structures.
It has an attractive little square that houses the oldest parish church in Cusco, which was built in 1563. This church has a carved wooden pulpit. For that reason, it is considered the symbol of Cusco’s colonial era. Without a doubt a place you must visit.
San Pedro Market
An obligatory stop for all those travellers who are in Cusco, is the San Pedro Market. San Pedro Market is located close to Plaza de Armas, in front of the train station. This market is one of the most varied and exotic places in terms of food and regional products. Here you can find fresh coca leaves, pure cacao and quality coffee.
You can also come by for lunch and get a fresh juice and typical Peruvian dish. It is cheaper than a restaurant and it’s certainly not inferior. 🥤
The Fortress of Sacsayhuamán
Sacsayhuamán is located 2 km from Cusco, it is an Inca fortress that astonishes tourists from all over the world. Its famous irrigation system and the precision its built with catches the eye of all visitors. It is said that its construction began during the government of Pachacútec and continued with Tupac Yupanqui.
Originally, it was a religious structure but because of its location and style the Spaniards saw it as a military complex. Since this fortress is only at a 2 km distance from Cusco you can either walk there or take a cab. It will take around 25 minutes to walk there and 10 minutes by car.
The Qorikancha was one of the most impressive buildings of Inca Cusco. As it was one of the main Inca temples and was dedicated to the Inti (God of the Sun). The temple was built from carved granite blocks in which joints melted gold was poured. The Spaniards described the Temple of the Sun as “Coricancha”, which means something like: “fabulous, beyond belief“.
Today, the colonial structure of the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo, uses the original foundations and walls from the ancient Inca Temple of Coricancha.
If you are interested in learning Spanish and volunteering in Cusco, visit Proyecto Peru’s website here!
Article translated and edited from Paquetes de Viajes Peru.