Landmarks in Cusco

Main Square & Cathedral
"The Cusco Plaza de Armas (Main Square) was once a swamp that dried during the time of the Incas and became the administrative, religious and cultural capital of the empire. After the conquest it was occupied by the Spanish who built their temples and mansions on top of Inca palaces. Currently, it is the heart of modern Cusco, surrounded by tourist restaurants, jewelers, travel agents and temples from the conquest period.
The Cathedral of Cusco (or Basilica Cathedral of the Virgen de la Asunción) is the main temple of the city and it is the headquarters of the Diocese of Cusco. It is composed of El Triunfo (The Triumph) church and the Iglesia de la Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family). It used to be Sunturwasi, the Palace of Inca Wiracocha. The complex covers an area of 3956 m2. It includes most important religious monuments of the historic center of Cusco."

Machu Picchu
"Old Mountain" in Southern Quechua is the contemporary name given to an Inca llaqta (ancient Andean town). It was built in the fifteenth century and its main square is at an altitude of 2490 m. According to documents from the mid sixteenth century, Machu Picchu was one of the vacation homes of Pachacutec (first Inca of Tawantinsuyu, 1438-1470). Also, some of its finest ceremonial buildings -visible from the main access road to the llaqta- demonstrate that this was used as a religious sanctuary. Machu Picchu is considered a masterpiece of both architecture and engineering. It is on the List of World Heritage of UNESCO since 1983, due to its cultural and ecological significance, and the New Seven Wonder of the Word since 2007.

Santo Domingo Convent or Koricancha
"The Koricancha (Quri Kancha: golden temple in Quechua) was originally called the Inti Kancha (Temple of the Sun). It was one of the most revered and respected temples of the city of Cusco. The site of gold, as it was known, was a sacred place where they paid homage to the maximum Inca God: the Inti (Sun). They could only enter it fasting, barefoot and with a load on their backs as sign of humility, as indicated by the high priest Willaq Umu (Vila Oma). The facade was a beautiful wall of the finest stonework, decorated by a palm-high plate of pure gold, three feet off the ground, and a delicately cut thatched roof. History tells that in 1534 Juan Pizarro received this land from his brother, Conqueror Francisco Pizarro in the distribution of plots. He donated it to the Congregation of Dominicans who built the Church of Santo Domingo on top of it the Koricancha. "

Archbishop's Palace & Stone of 12 angles
"The Archbishop's Palace is a colonial construction of Arab-influence built on the foundations of the old Palace of Inca Roca. During the conquest, it was successively occupied by different personalities such as Bishop Fray Vicente de Valverde and the Marquis de San Juan de Buenavista. Nowadays, it houses the Museum of Religious Art. The stone of 12 angles is a carved stone and embedded in one of its walls. Its twelve angles fit the adjacent stones with great accuracy. It demonstrates the technology used by the Incas, their degree of precision in manufacturing walls and their knowledge in building earthquake-resistant structures.""

Sacsayhuaman Archeological Complex
Sacsayhuaman is an Inca "ceremonial fortress" located 0.6214 miles north of the city of Cusco. In Quechua, it means "place where the hawk is satisfied" (saqsaw: place to satiate, and waman: hawk). Its construction began during the rule of Pachacutec, in the fifteenth century and given the final touch by Huayna Capac in the sixteenth century. With the destruction of the Inca nobility, the techniques that allowed the construction of this monumental fortress or sanctuary disappeared from human memory. Pizarro and his men felt admiration for this building. This was first accounted by Pedro Sancho, Pizarro's secretary. Later, mestizo chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega gave a more detailed description. The megalithic walls of the fortress show the architectural work made by the Incas during their peak. The fortress has a panoramic view of the surroundings, including the city of Cusco.

Sacred Valley
Cusco was the center of the Inca world, due to its excellent location and climate. The city was supplied with the produce of the Sacred Valley, over 100km of fertile land irrigated by the Urubamba River. It is surrounded by vegetation, the main crop being the Urubamba giant white corn (Paraqay). It contains different ecological levels from the lowest to snowy peaks. This was also a resting place for the Inca and his entourage. The Sacred Valley has the largest concentration of archaeological sites in Peru (over 350). The most popular way to admire it is by hiking the Inca Trails. Also, there are several offers for practicing adventure sports.

Was founded by the Spanish in 1556. It supplied salt to the southern highlands during the viceroyalty, so it was an important town. This is shown by the coats of arms of indigenous nobles on the façades of the church and houses. These have white roofs and walls, blue windows and are made of adobe. Their lintels have stone inscriptions with their construction date, ornaments, their owner's name or the coat of arms. The streets are made of stone and mud. The use of Maras Salt dates back thousands of years. It is inherited from generation to generation and managed communally. It is produced naturally in about five thousand pools of about 53.820ft² each, formed on andenes (terraces). Salty water from a creek permeates the pools and is evaporated by the intense sun, forming thick crystals. They are extracted once a month, once they have reached a height of 10 cm.

Was discovered in 1932. Its circular terraces in immense cone-shaped depressions of 47 to 84 m resemble giant fingerprints or contour lines. They may have been a gigantic agricultural laboratory, an astronomical observatory or a place of worship. It is thought that Moray was used for plant adaptation to new climatic environments. Creating a series of microclimates at the different heights of the terraces enabled the Incas to experimentally improve a great variety of crops. Today, it is an evidence of the high level of agricultural knowledge they reached.

Ollantaytambo Archeological Complex
Ollantaytambo features the vestiges of the town built by orders of Inca Pachacutec. It is thought to be a strategic military, agricultural and religious place from where to manage and control the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The constructions were presumed to be agricultural deposits and military watchtowers (to protect them against ethnic groups from the jungle). This place is a ceremonial center dedicated to the purification and worship of water. Its 150 steps built with perfectly carved stones are very similar to those of Tipon. The archaeological site includes a series of superimposed terraces and stunning finely carved stone blocks located on the upper terrace (Temple of the Sun).

Pisac Archeological Complex
"The Archaeological complex of Pisac is located 29,527 feet up a mountain. Studies have shown it was Inca Pachacutec’s ranch. It includes sleeping and ceremonial facilities. It is composed of numerous squares and neighborhoods. For example, the farmers’ neighborhood Qantus Racay is composed of rustic stone buildings on the edge of the cliffs. Amarupunku is the ceremonial neighborhood for nobility built in Keystone style. In the upper part of the archaeological complex is Intihuatana: a sacred stone where Inca priests worshiped the sun. It was also used for determining seasons and as an astronomical observatory. The Pisac Inca buildings are remarkable for their perfectly assembled polished stone structures. It is surrounded by watchtowers and defense points, as well as innumerable terraces. Around the complex there is an extensive cultivation area divided in platforms created by the Incas for maximal land use. At the front of the complex is the appraised Tanqanamarka Cemetery, where an estimate of 10,000 burials existed. These were looted by the Spanish conquerors."

Inca Trails
"Inca trails to Machu Picchu are part of Qhapac Nan: the Inca network of roads. They are the most popular trekking routes in South America. Glaciers as well as the streams and water courses they originate can be observed along the routes. The twelve archeological monuments that can be seen include Qoriwachayrachina, Patallaqta, Runkuraqay, Sayacmarca Phuyupatamarca Intipunku Intipata and Wiñayhuayna. The routes vary in length. The most popular route starts at Km 82 of the Cusco - Machu Picchu railroad and is a 40 km walk to the citadel of Machu Picchu. Another possibility that takes less time is called the Sacred Way. It is a pilgrimage and purification route before accessing the Pachacutec sacred llaqta and huacas. It starts at Km 104 of the same railroad. It allows travelers to appreciate different ecosystems and many of the finest monuments of Inca architecture. Its expected endpoint is a view of Machu Picchu from above."