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DESTINATION GUIDE: Lima / Cusco / Machu Picchu / Sacred Valley  / Arequipa / Puno / Huaraz / Nazca / Iquitos / Manu / Tambopata

RECOMMENDED HOTELS: Lima / Cusco / Machu Picchu / Sacred Valley / Arequipa / Puno / Huaraz / Nazca / Iquitos / Jungle Lodges

  

A Guide to the City of Cusco / Cuzco

Home > Destination Guide > Cusco > A Tour of the City of Cusco / Cuzco

Cusco Essentials

Intro to Cusco

Cusco Attractions

Cusco Maps

Hotels in Cusco

Cusco Photos

Tour Companies

Restaurants in Cusco

Bars & Clubs

Shopping

     

Nearby attractions

Sacsayhuaman

Pisac

Ollantaytambo

Chinchero

Machu Picchu

   

Adventure Activities

Trekking

Mountain Biking

Rafting

Climbing

  

Jungle Trips

Manu

Tambopata

   

Cultural Activities

Local Fiestas

Village Homestays

Other Ideas

   

Other Information

Transport

Cusco Attractions

  

Cusco Tourist Ticket - Boleto Turistico del Cusco

Boleto Turistico del Cusco - Cusco Tourist TicketAdmission 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)

- Sacsayhuaman,

- Q'enko, Tambomachay

- Puca Pucara.

 

In the Sacred Valley & around Chinchero (usually visited as part of a full day Sacred Valley tour except Moray)

- Pisac

- Ollantaytambo

- Chinchero

 

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)

Cuzco Plaza de Armas, Cuzco, PeruThe 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.

>> more photos of Cusco's Plaza de Armas >>

    

Cathedral
The Cathedral dominates the north-east side of the Plaza de Armas and sits squarely on the foundations of the Inca Viracocha's palace. The Cathedral was begun in 1550 and completed nearly 100 years later, constructed in the shape of a Latin cross. The three-aisled nave is supported by only fourteen massive pillars. It contains nearly 400 colonial paintings  including the Last Supper by Marcos Zapata showing Christ and the Apostles about to dine on guinea-pig, washed down with a glass of chicha! In the sacristy there's a painting of the crucifixion attributed to Van Dyke. Ten smaller chapels surround the nave, with the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, and the Chapel of El Señor de los Temblores (The Lord of Earthquakes) are worthy of special attention.
The Cathedral's real magic lies in the mingling of history and legend. It is said that when the Cathedral was built an Inca prince was walled up in one of the towers and that when the tower falls the Inca will emerge to claim his birthright and free his people. After the earthquake of 1950 thousands of believers waited hopefully for the tower to collapse, but despite severe damage, they did not and were later repaired.

  

Cusco Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru

Cusco Cathedral

Photo of Cusco Cathedral, Plaza de Armas Cusco Peru

Cathedral by night

The Last Supper by Marcos Zapata inside Cusco Cathedral, Cusco, Peru

The Last Supper by Marcos Zapata

Chrsit about to eat Guinea-pig - The Last Supper by Marcos Zapata inside Cusco Cathedral, Cusco, Peru

Christ and the Apostles about to dine on guinea-pig !!!

El Triunfo
El Triunfo is on the right hand side of the Cathedral and was the first Christian church in Cusco. It was built on the site of Suntur Huasi (the Roundhouse), the main Inca armoury where the Spanish were trapped during Manco Inca's siege in 1536. When the Incas burned the city the thatched roof of Suntur Huasi caught fire, but then mysteriously went out. The Spanish later broke out and recaptured Sacsayhuaman, ending the siege. Before long the "miracle" had grown into a vision of the Virgin Mary extinguishing the flames, accompanied by Saint James (Santiago) on horseback, streading terror among the natives. The church was built to commemorate this victory and the miracle.

  

El Triunfo

Corpus Christi, Cusco, Peru 2005

Saint James (Santiago) on horseback - Paraded around the Plaza during the festival of Corpus Christi

Cathedral

Cuzco Plaza de Armas, Cuzco, Peru

La Compania de Jesus

 

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)
Koricancha (Qoricancha) Inca Temple of the Sun, Cusco, PeruSanto Domingo was built in the 17th century on the walls of the Koricancha Temple of the Sun. The uninspiring Baroque decoration of Santo Domingo makes a poor contrast to the superbly crafted Inca masonry - in fact much of the cloister has been gutted to reveal four of the original chambers of the great Inca Temple. The finest Inca stonework in existence today is the curved wall beneath the west end of the Church. In Inca times the walls of the Koricancha were lined with 700 solid-gold sheets weighing two kilos a piece. There were life-size gold and silver replicas of corn, golden llamas, figurines and jars. All that remains today is the stonework; the conquistadors took the rest - unfortunately all the exquisite treasures ended up being melted down; nothing survived. However the fist conquistadors to arrive did not remove the holiest religious symbol of the empire, the golden sun disc, though they reported its existence. This solid gold disc, far larger than a man, mysteriously vanished before the main party of Spaniards arrived. It has never been found to the present day. The disc was positioned to catch the morning sun and throw its rays into the gold-lined temple, filling it with radiant light and bathing the mummies of the dead Inca rulers in sunshine which were seated in niches along the walls.
The entire temple complex was also an intricate celestial observatory. Every summer solstice, the sun's rays shine directly into a niche - the tabernacle - in which only the Inca was permitted to sit. Along with the main temple dedicated to the Sun, there were others for the adoration of lesser deities - the Moon, Venus, Thunder and Lightning, and the Rainbow. 

>> more photos of Inca Temple of the Sun / Koricancha >>

   

  Inca Stonework (Hatun Rumiyoc)
Hatun Rumiyoc ("the Street of the Great Stone" in Quechua) is a narrow pedestrianized alley which runs to the north of the palace of Inca Roca, the sixth Inca. (follow Calle Triunfo to the right of the Cathedral and just keep going straight on). The massive Inca wall of the palace is well preserved and contains the famous 12-angled stone which is located about halfway along the wall. The stone is famous for its size and incredible workmanship since it fits perfectly with its neighboring stone blocks. The 12-angled stone can also be seen on every bottle of Cusqueña beer!!

>>  more photos of Inca Stonework in Cusco >>

 

San Blas District
The San Blas district is located on a hill to the northeast of the Plaza de Armas. The area is known as Cusco's artisans' quarter since many of the best craftsmen have their workshops and small art galleries in the cobbled, narrow streets surrounding the 16th-century church of San Blas. Craftsmen include Hilario Mendivil, Santiago Rojas, Maximiliana Palomino & Edilberto Merida.  It is believed that this area was also the artists' district even during the Inca times, with the streets filled with the best gold- and silver-smiths, potters, painters and carvers from throughout the Inca empire.

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.

>>  more photos of San Blas district >>

  

Panoramic Photo of San Blas Plaza, Cusco, Peru

Plaza San Blas, Cusco. Click on image to enlarge

    

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.

 

La Merced Church, Cusco, Peru

La Merced Church

La Merced Church, Cusco, Peru

Internal Cloister, La Merced

"The Virgin of Milk!" - San Pedro Nolasco drinking Mary's milk.

La Merced Church, Cusco, Peru

La Merced

  

Next >> Museums in Cusco

 

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Home *About Us * Peru Highlights * Volunteer Work & Community Projects * Travel Info * Photo Gallery * Ecotourism Guide * Travel Stories * Language Schools * Books * Handicrafts * Links * Search * Contact Us

Tour Operators in Peru * Overseas Tour Operators * Mountain Biking * Rafting * Climbing * Birdwatching

TREKKING IN PERU: Classic Inca Trail / Short Inca Trail / Salkantay / Ausangate / Lares / Choquequirao / Vilcabamba / Huaraz 

DESTINATION GUIDE: Lima / Cusco / Machu Picchu / Sacred Valley  / Arequipa / Puno / Huaraz / Nazca / Iquitos / Manu / Tambopata

RECOMMENDED HOTELS: Lima / Cusco / Machu Picchu / Sacred Valley / Arequipa / Puno / Huaraz / Nazca / Iquitos / Jungle Lodges

  

 

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.