Cusco, Imperial City of the Inca

Peru Travel Blog

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After having spent 3 nights in Lima, we made our way to the Jorge Chávez International Airport where we boarded a Star Perú jet for the slightly longer than an hour flight to Cusco, the ancient captial of the Inca Empire. This city, which sits at a lofty elevation of 11,150 ft. is not only the gateway to Machu Picchu but caps the western end of the Sacred Valley.

The City of Cusco, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, served as the capital of the Inca Empire and as such was the epicenter of Inca history in Peru and the Andean culture. Conquered by the Spanish under the command of Francisco Pizzaro, much of what can be seen today is the legacy of the Spanish but, amazingly, some of the Incas' physical culture in the form of Inca stone walls, Saqsaywaman, and the Temple of the Sun (Koricancha) have survived the test of time though not completely intact in many cases.

Despite the quite spectacular engineering skills of the Incas, I found it sad that the Spanish conquerors often destroyed what they did not need or want, and then built their cathedrals, palaces, mansions, and important administrative buildings on Incan foundations -- Santo Domingo Church was built on the Koricancha, Saqsaywama sustained damage, and there are more examples. 

At the historic center of Cusco is  the Plaza des Armas or "Huacaypata" which has several interesting churches, museums, remnants of Inca architecture, markets and shops nearly all of it quite worthy of a few days of your time to see.

After arriving at the Cusco's Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport and collecting our baggage, we immediately drove to the Center for Traditional Textiles in Chinchero (elevation 12,350 ft) to see demonstrations of traditional weaving and to have lunch which was a great experience aside from the ill effects of the thin air. From Chinchero we traveled directly to Huayllabamba (in the Urubamba province) staying at an incredible hotel for 4 nights and which thankfully was at a much lower altitude. After visiting many sights while using Huayllabamba as a base, we returned Cusco to spend 2 nights at the Libertador Palacio del Inka hotel before returning to Lima.

SWFC_Fan says:
Great write up, Sylvia! :-)
Hoping to make it to Cusco and Machu Picchu in the next couple of years. It looks amazing!
Posted on: Feb 27, 2017
german_eagle says:
Congratulations on this featured blog, well done!
Posted on: Feb 20, 2017
Vikram says:
This is a lovely blog and brings back such wonderful memories. I love Cusco!
Posted on: Feb 18, 2017
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Peru Hotels & Accommodations review
Libertador Palacio del Inka Hotel
While in Cusco, we would spend 2 nights at the "Libertador Palacio del Inka" hotel. It's a rather grand hotel, and this hotel was included in our tour… read entire review