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Today, Cusco is the home to some of the finest Inca architecture ever built. Even after the destruction of the city during the Spanish conquest, people are amazed by the engineering skills that created this city, and the resulting beauty.
Wherever you walk in Cusco, you will come across reminders of its fascinating past. From the remains of Inca palaces, that are now home to museums and restaurants, to the engraved and cut rocks that you will find throughout the area, it is impossible to not be impressed by the legacy the Incas left behind.
Cusco's history doesn’t just stem from the Inca period. For 500 years, the Spanish also left their mark on the city, and today you can see an interesting and eclectic mix of both Inca and Spanish colonial architecture and culture side by side. The most notable example is the Monastery of Saint Dominic (Santo Domingo), this was the Temple of the Sun during the Inca period, and was knocked down by the Spanish who built the Church of Santo Domingo. However, the original foundations still remain, as do some of the original temple buildings inside.
Today Cusco is a fascinating city to walk around. As well as encountering amazing architecture, visitors will also find numerous markets stocked with countless alpaca and artisan products, and delicious Peruvian cuisine, including coffee, chocolate and Pisco sours, Peru’s favourite cocktail!
Population: Approx. 400,000
Average altitude: 3,350 meters (10,000 ft.)
Distances: 1h 25m flight to/from Lima (20 hours by bus)
Sites of interest
In Cusco you will find plenty of interesting sites to visit, here are some of them:
The Sacred Valley
Today, the Sacred Valley provides a beautiful setting to visit the towns and archaeological sites that run along its length. The most popular sites are the citadels of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, but there are numerous smaller sites that are also fascinating to explore. The backdrop of snow-capped mountains alongside the flowering meadows, azul lakes and unique flora and fauna, is simply beautiful, and provides a great base for adventure tourism.
Machu Picchu is definitely the most famous of Peru’s various Inca sites, and is also one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. In 1983 Machu Picchu was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 2007 it was voted to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Machu Picchu was constructed in the 15th century by Inca Pachacutec. The exact purpose of the site is unknown, as the only records the Incas kept were in the form of Khipus (knotted strings), and the ability to read them died following the Spanish conquest.