A city seeped in Inca myths and traditions; Cusco is a remarkable human architectural achievement at more than 11,000 feet above sea level. The Peruvian city was once the capital of the Empire of the Sun and is still the gateway to the Sacred Valley, including the lost city of Machu Picchu.
The Heart of the Puma
The Incas built Cusco in the shape of a Puma and the Plaza de Armas is at the very heart. Once the home of two prominent Inca palace, the square is now flanked by the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption and the Church of the Society of Jesus, a testament to Spanish colonial rule. The square is a meeting place for locals on sunny afternoons and if you’re lucky, you can see local artists play music and dance to traditional music.
Children of The Sun
To immerse yourself in the traditions of the Inca people, you’ll want to attend a show at Centro Qosqo. Here you’ll enjoy customary folk music and dance of the Inca civilization performed by local descendants of the sun empire. Close-by, San Pedro Market is a wonderfully bustling marketplace where you can find colorfully woven tapestries and clothing, hand-crafted goods and local food.
The Sacred Valley
In the areas surrounding Cusco there are several important sites that showcase the architectural and cultural achievements of the Incan Empire, as well as prior civilizations. North of Cusco, Sacsayhuamán, a citadel-like complex is the most popular of these sites and features a grand plaza.
Further west, Moray, an array of concentric terraces with impressive acoustics and an integrated irrigation system, still perplexes archeologists to this day. It is believed that the space was used to test different climate conditions for different crops since there is a temperature difference of 15 degrees between the base and the top.
What makes these sites so remarkable is the precision and structural soundness. Architecture and history buffs will be in awe of the feats achieved by this glorious civilization.
The City in the Clouds
A short train ride and a bus, or –for the more adventurous travelers –a 4-day trek away, is the imposing city of Machu Picchu. Tour guides bring the city to life, sharing the customs, social order and rituals of this majestic city. This UNESCO world heritage site is also one of the seven wonders of the world and one that should not be missed!
Cusco and the surrounding Sacred Valley are unique portals to a complex and magnificent empire and Avianca can take you there. See our special deals here.