If you are looking for extraordinary textiles, lively summer festivals and archeological wonders, if Amerindian and mestizo culture peak your interest, if you want to see how Incan majesty and Andean baroque exist side-by-side, then Cusco, Peru is the place to visit. Located in the Andes mountain range in the south of Peru, Cusco’s history lives in its streets, squares, valleys and towns. Stunning destinations and examples of fine engineering by Inca stonemasons can be seen in Choquequirao, Saysayhuamán, Kenko, Tambomachay, Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu, the Inca jewel built with the wisdom of the ancient Peruvians in an ecological environment.
Seductive, striking and natural, old ways are not forgotten here. Colorful textiles keep the past vivid, as do the wild fiestas and carnivals. A stunning landscape careens from Andean peaks to orchid-rich cloud forests and Amazon lowlands. Explore it on foot or by rafting wild rivers or simply braving the local buses to the remote and dust-worn corners of this far-reaching, culturally rich department.
Cusco has served as a travelers’ mecca for hundreds of years. Though it was the center of the Inca Empire for a relatively short time, relics and imprints from the great civilization remain to this day, melding into a modern world that seems unable to change the unique character of the city. When you visit Cusco, you feel as if you’ve been transported to another dimension of sorts.
But Cusco is more than just Inca relics and beautiful textiles. There is a hearty Spanish colonial feel to the city as well, but with modern day descendants of the Inca still pulling llamas through the historic heart of town. The baroque main cathedral is in the central tourist gathering spot of the Plaza de Armas, one of Cusco’s most impressive architectural structures. But perhaps even more fascinating when it comes to Cusco architecture are the surviving walls from the Inca. These walls were, and are, so strong that the Spanish often chose to simply build on top of them instead of destroy them. As if the stone streets and the city’s “living museum” feel were not enough, seeing these hundreds of year old stone walls as you make your way about town is truly a treat.
Cusco Peru is a city that is perfect for travelers. It is a jump-off point for excursions on the Inca Trail and to nearby Machu Picchu. It is a busy city, so traffic can be a hassle to negotiate… but who cares when you have great shopping too.
This is a very special place worthy of spending time at for any traveler. It simply doesn’t get any better or more authentic.