10 Facts About Cusco Tours

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Founded in 1100 A.D., Cusco, known as Qosqo in the Quechua language, was once the thriving capital of the Inca Empire. Renowned for its rich history, magnificent blend of Incan and Spanish colonial architecture, stunning landscapes, and welcoming people, Cusco is considered one of the most impressive cities in Peru. To shed light on this remarkable city, here are 10 lesser-known facts about Cusco:

  1. Origin of Cusco: According to early chroniclers, Cusco was founded by Manco Capac, the first Inca leader, who migrated with his tribe from the Lake Titicaca region in the 12th century. Legend has it that Manco Capac emerged from the lake with his sister Mama Ocllo and established Cusco at the spot where his sacred staff sank into the ground.
  2. The Empire’s center: The Incas regarded Cusco as the “navel of the world,” the capital of their empire and the focal point from which spiritual lines of power, known as “ceques,” radiated to various significant locations in their cosmological universe. While exploring the ancient city, you can admire the palaces of several Inca kings, characterized by their massive and perfectly crafted walls.
  3. The Sun Temple: The Qoricancha, or Courtyard of the Sun, held immense importance for the Incas. It stands as an exceptional example of Inca architecture in Cusco today. Thousands of visitors are captivated by its meticulously fitted stone blocks, thick walls, and intricate construction details. In Inca times, its walls were said to be adorned with golden sheets, which were lost after the Spanish conquest of Cusco.
  4. Spanish influence on religion: The Spanish colonizers introduced Catholicism to Peru, leading to the construction of grand churches in every settlement. Cusco boasts numerous churches, including the Cathedral of Cusco and the Church of the Compañia, founded by the Jesuits, located on the main Plaza de Armas. Other notable churches in Cusco’s Historical Downtown include La Merced, San Francisco, Santa Clara, and San Pedro. These churches showcase colonial and Baroque architecture, featuring intricately carved altars and pulpits, as well as exquisite paintings from the Cusqueño school of art dating from the 16th to the 18th century.
  5. Vibrant Markets and Commerce: When in Cusco, a visit to the San Pedro Market is a must. This expansive traditional market is a feast for the senses, offering an array of stalls selling traditional foods, exotic spices, handicrafts, wool clothing, souvenirs, and more. Indulge in the visual delights and treat yourself to fresh fruit juices prepared on the spot by friendly vendors who tempt you with unique tropical fruit combinations.
  6. Majestic Ceremonial Site: Sacsayhuaman, an Inca ceremonial site perched on a hill overlooking downtown Cusco, is a marvel of colossal stone walls that defy imagination, even at close proximity. The ramparts, encircling a vast ceremonial field, consist of enormous stones reaching heights of up to 15 feet and weighing several tons. The mystery lies in how these stones were transported from quarries kilometers away. Scholars believe that the Incas possessed incredible skills and manpower to transport, shape, and fit these massive stones. Today, Sacsayhuaman remains the focal point for Cusco’s most important celebration, Inti Raymi, the Festival of the Winter Solstice, held in June.
  7. Artistic Legacy of Cusco: Cusco is a city renowned for its skilled artists and artisans. Wander through the streets lined with numerous shops offering an endless array of paintings, ceramics, textiles, clothing, traditional musical instruments, and more. It’s a shopper’s paradise! Artwork styles range from replicas of exquisite Baroque and Cusco School paintings to modern art reflecting native themes. Don’t miss the picturesque San Blas neighborhood, home to handicraft shops and workshops of internationally renowned artist families such as Mendivil, Olave, and Mérida. Immerse yourself in the captivating world of Cusco’s art and crafts!
  8. Gastronomic Delights: Cusco caters to food enthusiasts with its diverse culinary scene. World-class restaurants and bistros offer tantalizing dishes and excellent beverages. Experience a fusion of styles, including Novo Andina cuisine, which combines the flavors of Peruvian and Andean cooking with international influences in innovative creations. From delectable pizzas and sushi to fresh seafood and vegetarian options, the dining choices are exceptional. Of course, traditional Andean cuisine is also a highlight, featuring dishes with trout, guinea pig, and incredibly delicious potato preparations. Cusco promises a gastronomic adventure with unforgettable flavors.
  9. Lively Nightlife: Cusco comes alive at night, offering an exciting nightlife scene. Pubs abound, serving handcrafted microbrews and delightful Pisco-based cocktails (Pisco being Peru’s renowned grape brandy). Dance the night away at vibrant venues or enjoy traditional Andean dance performances at peñas. As darkness falls, the Plaza and the city’s downtown area become enchanted, with stars above and twinkling lights on the hills, creating a romantic atmosphere for strolling hand in hand with your loved one.
  10. Trekking and Exploration: Cusco is not just a city; it encompasses a vast region that includes the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo’s Inca ruins, Pisac, cloud forests, and numerous other captivating destinations. For the ultimate trekking and lodge experience, head to Apu Ausangate, the sacred mountain towering above all else, believed to protect the people and waters of Cusco. Discover the beauty of the region as you embark on unforgettable treks and explorations. Cusco is a gateway to extraordinary adventures.

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