A Guide to the City of Cusco / Cuzco
Cusco Tourist Ticket - Boleto Turistico del Cusco
Admission to many of the most popular places of interest in Cusco can only be made using a 'Tourist Ticket' (Boleto Turistico). This ticket allows you entrance to many sites in and around Cusco and costs 130 Peruvian Soles (approx US$48) and 70 Peruvian Soles for students with an ISIC card (approx US$26). The ticket is valid for 10 days and can be bought at the COSITUC office at Avenida Sol 103 office 102 (Mon-Fri 8am-6.30pm , Sat 8am-2pm) or at any of the sites included on the ticket below. (just in case you were wondering COSITUC stands for Comite de Servicios Integrados Turistico Culturales Cusco)
Places included on the tourist ticket are:
In the city of Cusco
- Museum of Regional History (Museo de Historia Regional)
- Museum of Contemporary Art (Museo Palacio Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo)
- Koricancha Museum (Museo Arqueologico Koricancha) - but not Koricancha itself
- Museum of Popular Art (Museo de Arte Popular)
- Native Music and Dance Centre (Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo)
- Pachacutec Monument (Monumento Pachacutec)
Just outside of the City (and usually visited as part of a half day city tour)
- Q'enko, Tambomachay
- Puca Pucara.
In the Sacred Valley & around Chinchero (usually visited as part of a full day Sacred Valley tour except Moray)
To the south of Cusco (and rarely visited)
- Pikillacta (near Urcos and the only major pre-Inca ruin in the Cusco area)
- Tipon (mainly Inca terracing).
Entrance tickets to the Cathedral (US$3), Koricancha / Qoricancha /Temple of the Sun (US$1.80), San Blas church, the Inka Museum (US$3), Museo de Arte Precolombino (US$4.60), Museo de Arte Religioso del Arzobispado (US$3) and La Merced (US$0.90) are sold separately.
If you don't have the time or inclination to visit all of the attractions on the "General Ticket" listed above then you can buy separate tickets to smaller groups of attractions known as tourist "Circuits"
Circuit 1: Costs 70 Peruvian Soles (approx US$26) and is valid for 1 day
Includes Sacsayhuaman, Q'enko, Tambomachay and Puca Pucara.
Circuit 2: Costs 70 Peruvian Soles (approx US$26) and is valid for 2 days
Includes Museum of Regional History, Museum of Contemporary Art, Koricancha Museum (but not Koricancha itself), Museum of Popular Art, Native Music and Dance Centre, Pachacutec Monument, Pikillacta & Tipon.
Circuit 3: Costs 70 Peruvian Soles (approx US$26) and is valid for 2 days
Includes Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero & Moray
The Plaza de Armas (Main Square)
The Plaza de Armas (main square) was the centre of Inca Cusco and, still today, remains at the heart of modern Cusco. During Inca times the Plaza was known as Huacaypata (the Place of Tears or the Weeping Square) and was a place of ceremonies and military parades. It has been said that when the Inca's conquered new lands they would bring back some of the soil to be mixed with the soil of Huacaypata, as a symbolic gesture to incorporate the newly gained territories into the Inca empire.
The Plaza was once flanked with Inca palaces. The remains of the ancient walls of Inca Pachacutec's palace can still be seen on the north-west side of the square (inside the Roma Restaurant close to the corner of the Plaza and Calle Plateros.
The northern and western sides of the Plaza are now lined by arcades with shops and travel agencies. There are many restaurants, bars and coffee shops with beautifully carved wooden balconies overlooking the Plaza - a great place to relax and enjoy the view.
The Plaza's north-eastern edge is dominated by the Cathedral which is flanked on the right-hand side by the El Triunfo church.
On the south-east side is the smaller but more ornate church of La Compania de Jesus with its impressive pair of belfries.
La Compania de Jesus
La Compania de Jesus church is located on the south-east side of the Plaza de Armas and rivals the Cathedral in grandeur and prominence. The original structure was built in the 1570's by the Jesuits on the site of Inca Huayna Capac's palace, known as Amaru Cancha or Palace of the Serpents and was said to be the most beautiful of all the Inca palaces). Huayna Capac was the last Inca to rule over an undivided, unconquered empire. The first church was destroyed in the earthquake of 1650. The present day building was finally completed 18 years later in 1668. The most impressive feature of La Compania is the incredible baroque facade with two majestic bell towers. The interior is cool and a little gloomy apart from a stunning gilded altar-piece which is often lit up at night. The church also posses several important works of art from the Cusquena School.
On the right hand side of the church is the Lourdes Chapel which is now used as an exhibition centre to display local paintings and handicrafts.
Santo Domingo Church
& Koricancha / Qoricancha (Inca Temple
of the Sun).
Inca Stonework (Hatun Rumiyoc)
San Blas District
San Blas church, founded in 1562, is of simple adobe construction but it contains an extraordinary wood pulpit carved from a single massive treetrunk. At the top stands Saint Paul, his foot resting on a human skull, believed to belong to the craftsman who made the pulpit.
San Blas really comes to life in the evenings when the bars and restaurants open.
The area above the fountain to the northeast of the plaza is a good place to take advantage of the view out over Cusco and the red tiled rooftops (see photo below). On Saturdays there is a handicraft market in the square.
Iglesia de la Merced (La Merced Church)
Calle Mantas 121, one block from the Plaza de Armas. Entrance fee S/.6 (about US$2.5) Open Mon-Sat 09:00-12:30, 15:00-17:30
La Merced was originally built in 1534 by the religious Order of Mercedarians. On 01 August 1218 the Blessed Virgin appeared to the French Saint Peter Nolasco. She desired the establishment of the Mercedarian religious order (derives from the Spanish word for mercy - merced) Its members would seek to free Christian captives and offer themselves, if necessary, as an exchange. The complete name of this order is The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the Ransom of Captives. The Order was founded in 1235 and later approved by Pope Gregory IX under the name of Our Lady of Mercy. A feast day was instituted and observed on September 24th. The church was almost completely destroyed in the 1650 earthquake and rebuilt by indigenous stonemasons in the late 17th century. Inside the church are buried the conquistadors Gonzalo Pizarro, half-brother of Francisco, the two Almagros, father and son. Their tombs were discovered in 1946. La Merced rivals the cathedral in riches and has particularly beautiful cloisters (innner courtyards). On the far side of the first cloister is a small museum of religious art where you can find an excellent collection of oil paintings among them a painting of the Holy Family attributed to Rubens. There are also several intriguing and somewhat bizzare examples amongst the collection, one of the Virgin Mary inviting Saint Peter Nolasco and baby Jesus to share her milk (painted by the indigenous painter Ignacio Chacon), another painting showing a decapitated San Laureano, spouting blood, holding his own head being helped by two lovely archangels. Kept securely behind thick steel bars (and only just visible) is the priceless solid gold monstance (a vessel used to hold the communion Host). It is 1.2m high, weighs 22kg and is encrusted with diamonds and other precious stones. Two huge pearls are used to form the body of a mermaid.
Andean Travel Web Guide to Peru. Copyright Andean Travel Web Guide to Peru 2000-2011. All material used within this web site is original work and is subject to international copyright law. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited without prior permission from the editor. This web page was last updated in October 2011.