Spanish invaders added enormous edifices – mostly for religious purposes – after they conquered the city in the 16th century. But you don’t have to be a history or archaeology buff to get attracted to Cusco. Visit it for the rare beauty this amazing city exudes through the archaeological remains of indigenous Incas and invading Spaniards.
For its abundance of magnificent archaeological sites, Cusco is known as the archaeological capital of the Americas. In recognition of its historical importance the UNESCO declared the city a World Heritage Site in 1983.
Cusco being the gateway to South America’s most visited tourist destination Machu Picchu, travelers come here first before going further either by trekking for four days along the picturesque and arduous Inca Trail or by a quick train journey that takes only four hours. But Cusco’s attractions are so alluring that travelers linger here for a few days.
On an average some 1.5 million people visit Cusco every year and many of them come from overseas. The city has excellent infrastructure for providing them with all they need to make their stay comfortable. Cusco abounds with various types of accommodations, many of which are located amidst mountainous backdrop.
Monasterio is a converted 17th century monastery located at the heart of the city. It’s comfortable and elegant but a bit pricy at $787 a night for a double. The Libertador is a 5-star luxury hotel and one of the best in Cusco, located within the historical downtown. A double costs $360 a night. Budget accommodations are available in areas like La Casona Inkaterra.
You may even consider staying with a Peruvian family. You would enjoy your stay if your hosts are warm and friendly and give you total independence. The best thing would be to browse through the Internet and see the wide range of accommodation available.
Cusco is a fascinating city and most of its tourist attractions are within easy walking distance. You may like to hire a horse and trot around the archaeological remains that surround the city.
Because of its high altitude you will need some time to get gently acclimatized. Don’t do any trekking, horse-riding or serious sightseeing on the first day. Spend at least three days in Cusco before starting any rigorous trekking through the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
The first thing that strikes a newcomer to the city is the massive Inca walls built with huge granite blocks that were cut with such precision that they perfectly joined together without using any mortar. The Spanish conquerors destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces and used parts of the massive walls as bases for the construction of a colonial city.
Explore the city’s highlights during your stopover in Cusco. Go for a day trip to the Sacred Valley of Incas and do some shopping of tribal handicrafts at the traditional Indian market at Pisac.
Cusco might have been ruled for a thousand years either by Inca kings and or Spanish conquistadors, but in this century the city life revolves around international tourists. The Plaza de Armas is in the historic center of Cusco. It was constructed during the Inca Empire. Now this historic area abounds with hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, travel agencies or internet cafés.
There are regular one-hour flights from Lima to Cusco. Check with travel agents or airlines for international flights to Lima. Cusco is a wonderful holiday destination. You will enjoy your holiday more if you bring your family along because this enchanting city is also a romantic getaway.