What to See in Cusco (Peru)
According to SUNGLASSESTRACKER, Cusco is one of the most ancient cities in the world, which is called the “archaeological capital of America”. It was founded in 1200 at an altitude of 3360 m above sea level and became the capital of the mighty Inca Empire. Arriving for the first time in the city, you will feel the clean mountain air. You need to spend at least two days here in order to adapt to local conditions.
UNESCO declared Cusco a Cultural Patrimony of Humanity. The first thing that catches your eye is that most of the buildings of the Inca era are built from huge stones without the use of mortar, despite the fact that the gap between the stones is almost invisible. Streets of Cusco straight and narrow. In order to see the main attractions of the city, tourists are advised to purchase a “tourist ticket”. It costs about $20 and is valid for 10 days. With it, you can visit most of the interesting places in Cusco.
In the heart of the city is Armas Square, which in Inca times was a cult center called Uyakayapata (“place of tears”). Here once stood the granite Palace of the Supreme Inca Pachacute, the remains of which have survived to this day. Shops and travel agencies line the north and west sides of the square. Not far from the square are the Cathedral of La Compagna with a huge bell Maria Angola, the first Christian church in Cusco – the church of El Triunfo and the church of Santo Domingo . The Church of Santo Domingo was built on the site of an ancient temple of the Sun, the remains of which can be seen at its western wall. Until now, people are looking for a huge golden disc, symbolizing the sun, which was supposed to be preserved from the ancient temple. However, despite the fact that the conquistadors claimed not to have touched it, no one can find it.
Northwest of the city center of Cusco, on the top of the mountain are the ruins of a complex of religious and military buildings of the Incas – Sacsayhuaman. The Incas built this complex to protect themselves from enemies. Here you can see three parallel powerful stone walls of a zigzag shape. They were built of stone blocks, the largest of which has a height of 8.5 m and weighs about 300 tons. The center of the building is the “throne of the Inca”, it is surrounded by 21 bastions with powerful towers. Nearby lie the ruins of the fortresses of Kenko, Puka Pukara and Tambomachay. At the top of Mount Kenko, zigzag channels were carved into the rock, through which blood flowed from the places of sacrifice. The Tambomachay fortress was used for ritual ablutions. These ruins are located on the road leading to the city of Pisac. It is located 30 km from Cusco. Pisak is a small village with numerous souvenir shops. Of greatest interest to tourists is the colorful local market that opens here every Sunday. There are also small markets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In the vicinity of Pisac, you can visit the ruins of an ancient fortification that protected the entrance to the Urubamba river valley. This complex of buildings was carved from the rocks. Now the ruins of the fortress rise above the river, from here a beautiful view of the surroundings opens. From Pisak begins the Sacred Valley, where in ancient times the main cities of the Inca Empire were located. The local climate and the Urubamba River flowing here allowed the Incas to grow crops. The valley also protected the highlands from the raids of militant tribes who lived in the jungles of the east of the country. The pyramid city of Ollantaytambo is interesting here. It is divided into several parts, each of which has an entrance through a hole in the rock. From here you get to the central square, which is surrounded by houses. Part of the city, where the main temples were once concentrated, is located on a hill, to which steps carved into the rock lead. In the Sacred Valley, it is also worth visiting the village of Chinchero, where the Incas believed the rainbow was born.
But the most important tourist attraction in the area Cusco is the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu. It is located 120 km northwest of Cusco at an altitude of 2700 m above sea level on a mountain plateau. You can get here from Cusco along the Inca Trail or by train. Machu Picchu covers an area of about 33 thousand hectares. This is the Archaeological Park, in which the famous Gate of the Sun “Intihuatana” and the observatory, temples, defensive walls, stairs, drains and pools, thousands of terraces carved into the rocks, the palace of the Moon and ancient burials were excavated. Entrance to the territory of the Archaeological Park is paid and costs about 40 US dollars.
From Cusco you can go to the most popular protected areas of Peru. They are located in the southern part of the selva in the department of Madre de Dios. These are Manu Biosphere Reserve and Tambopata Reserve. The Manu Reserve occupies 19,000 sq. km., on which tropical rainforests grow, one of the last untouched by man in the world. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, because each hectare of the forest contains up to 220 species of trees. In addition, about 850 species of birds have been identified here, and rare animals such as the giant otter, giant armadillo and jaguars.
The rainforests of the Manu Reserve are the home of several tribes of Indians that have not been affected by civilization. To the southeast of Manu is the Tambopata reserve, within which three ecosystems are represented – the Amazonian plain, the eastern slopes of the Andes and the Pampa steppe. There are 1234 species of butterflies, 592 species of birds, 74 species of reptiles, 103 species of mammals, 92 species of fish and 40 species of insects. On the territory of the reserve, 13 species of animals that are on the verge of extinction are protected, including the jaguar, giant otter, ocelot, harpy eagle and armadillo. In the selva is also the youngest national park in the country – Bahuaha-Sonene. It was opened in 1996 and now, together with the Maididi National Park, forms a conservation area with a total area of more than 50,000 square meters. km.