DISCOVER CUSCO “THE OLDEST CITY OF SOUTH AMERICA & CAPITAL OF THE INCA EMPIRE”

EXPLORE THE BEST OF CUSCO & MACHU PICCHU WITH ANDEAN GREAT TREKS

The city of Cusco, Peru is currently known as the cultural capital of the country, but its significant history goes back much further. As the oldest living city in the Americas, Cusco has been inhabited continuously for over 3,000 years. It was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th to 16th century until Spanish conquest, and now is a major tourist destination– receiving nearly 2 million visitors per year.

The City of Cusco, at 3,400 m above sea level, is located in a fertile alluvial valley fed by several rivers in the heart of the Central Peruvian Andes of South America. Under the rule of Inca Pachacuteq (Tito Cusi Inca Yupanqui), in the 15th century, the city was redesigned and remodelled after a pre-Inca occupation process of over 3,000 years, and became the capital of the Tawantinsuyu Inca Empire, which covered much of the South American Andes between the 15th and 16th centuries AD.

The Imperial city of the Incas was developed as a complex urban centre with distinct religious and administrative functions which were perfectly defined, distributed and organized. The religious and government buildings were accompanied by the exclusive abodes for royal families, forming an unprecedented symbolic urban compound, which shows a stone construction technology with exceptional aesthetic and structural properties, such as the Temple of the Sun or Qoricancha, the Aqllahuasi, the Sunturcancha, the Kusicancha and a series of very finely finished buildings that shape the Inca compound as an indivisible unity of Inca urbanism. The noble city was clearly isolated from the clearly delineated areas for agricultural, artisan and industrial production as well as from the surrounding neighbourhoods. The pre-Hispanic patterns and buildings that shaped the Imperial city of the Incas are visible today.

With the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, the urban structure of the Inca imperial city of Cusco was preserved and temples, monasteries and manor houses were built over the Inca city. They were mostly of baroque style with local adaptations, which created a unique and high quality mixed configuration representing the initial juxtaposition and fusion of different periods and cultures, as well as the city’s historic continuity. The city’s remarkable syncretism is evident not only in its physical structure but also in the Viceroyalty’s artistic expression. It became one of the most important centres of religious art creation and production in the continent. It is also important for its population’s customs and traditions, many of which still keep their ancestral origins. From its complex past, woven with significant events and beautiful legends, the city has retained a remarkable monumental ensemble and coherence and is today an amazing amalgam of the Inca capital and the colonial city. Of the first, it preserves impressive vestiges, especially its plan: walls of meticulously cut granite or andesite, rectilinear streets running within the walls, and the ruins of the Sun Temple. Of the colonial city, there remain the freshly whitewashed squat houses, the palace and the marvellous Baroque churches which achieved the impossible fusion of the Plateresco, Mudejar or Churrigueresco styles with that of the Inca tradition.

CUSCO

THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN CUSCO

Wondering what to do in Cusco? Check out our list of the best things to do in Cusco to discover the best Cusco activities and attractions on your trip.
With so many things to do in Cusco, the options are endless. Not only is this ancient Inca capital one of the top travel destinations in Peru, but it is also the main jumping-off point for tourists and trekkers on their way to Machu Picchu. Those who spend some time in this vibrant city may find the list of archaeological sites, museums, marketplaces, viewpoints and so on, can be hard to choose from.

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