Cusco the former stronghold of the Inca Empire in the Andes, is generally used by travelers as a launching pad for the journey to Machu Picchu.
However, this city with its interesting blend of Spanish and Incan influences has now become a Mecca for backpackers. In today’s post, we are going to talk about some of the best places to visit in this city.
1. Plaza de Armas
The cultural center of Cusco, the Plaza de Armas is lined with cafes, eateries, and pubs most of which offer a superb view of the square. The imposing statue of Pachacuti– an Incan warrior dominates the center of the Plaza.
Make sure to visit the splendid cathedral of Cusco which symbolizes the Spanish invasion and houses a replica of “The Last Supper’ painting by Da Vinci. Make sure to take a close look at the painting to find a “cuy” (guinea pig) on one of the dishes.
2. San Pedro Market
This colorful market with its fruit, vegetable and meat stalls is sure to appeal to any photography enthusiast. If you are having altitude sickness then make sure to scour some cocoa leaves to suck on.
You will also find many empanada and tamales stalls which also serve meals at a very cheap price.
If you walk (or take a tour by bus in 15 minutes) 45 minutes from the plaza, you will reach this prehistoric Inca site which comes with a brilliant view of the city. Originally a religious site, Sacsayhuaman was also the ground for a bloody war between the Incas and the Spanish colonizers.
Make sure to hire a guide to get a proper understanding of the history of this site. The trek to Sacsayhuaman would also allow you to take a peek at the massive statue of Christo Blanco which looms over the city.
4. San Blas District
A short but steep walk from the Plaza de Armas would take you to the picturesque Sans Blas District which is famous for its quaint shops and interesting architecture. The Hatunrumiyoc road which was originally constructed by the Incas is a reminder of the city’s Inca past.
You will find a remarkable cobblestone house which dominates the neighborhood. San Blas is also notable for its tiny boutique stores and galleries which line the roads where you will find many authentic souvenirs. Make sure to stop at the Pantastico bakery for some delightful savories.
The Korikancha or the Sun Temple is the greatest example of the entwining Incan and Spanish influence in the city.
The Sun Temple of the Incas which was once covered with sheets of gold was totally despoiled by the conquistadores, who constructed the Santo Domingo church on the ruins of the former temple.
Wrapping it up:
Cusco has many other delights to offer other than the ones mentioned above. While you are at it, try to get a feel of the vibrant nightlife of Cusco which can be best enjoyed in the numerous clubs and pubs in and around the city square. The Mama Africa club with its electronic and hip-hop beats is a cool place to unwind after a hectic day. The Ukukus Bar is yet another fantastic nightclub where you can enjoy live music.