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Explore the mysteries in your Machu Picchu holidays while embarking on a trip through time with Peru Travel Now.

Cusco has been recognized as the archeological capital of South America, especially since it's the gateway to that mystical journey to Machu Picchu that so many travelers rave about. What makes a Cusco travel so popular among national and foreign tourists is the legacy that was left by Incas: unique and precious ruins found sprawling throughout the city and its outskirts. Travel back in time and witness the spirit of an ancient era with Peru Travel Now. Our travel experts have spent over three decades traveling and studying every corner of Peruvian territory, documenting their finds in more than 300 books and several articles published in National Geographic magazines. This experience has lent us the possibility to personally customize Machu Picchu holidays that will fulfill all your dreams and requests.

The Imperial city of Cusco, and its adjacent sites, are must see attractions for your Cusco travel. The city itself has a lot to offer while introducing you to the perfection of the Inca culture. In contrast, the Plaza de Armas -or the Main Square-, is surrounded by arcades of Spanish colonial style and Inca stone walls. One of the main attractions in this cultural capital is the Santo Domingo church, located on the main square, which is a real evidence of ancient architectonic perfectionism. As you observe it you can sense the times of a bygone era, and imagine how its walls were completely covered with gold. Walk through the legendary Hatun Rumiyoc street, where you can have a perfectly close look at the walls made of huge polygonal stones. Admiring this work of art -the stones cut and fitted with an ideal precision-, will introduce you to the enthralling search for a famous stone of 12 angles, the pinnacle of flawless stone craftsmanship. See for yourself if you can find silhouettes of animals hidden within this architectonic marvel. Wander around the alleyways away from the main square, where you can appreciate these structures more privately.

Continue your Cusco travel through time visiting Sacsayhuaman: the imposing fortress atop the overlooking plateau just out of the city. Its closest location to Cusco allows tourists to visit it in less than one day. Sacsayhuaman consists of very symmetric entrances and exits made of thousands of stones, some of which are so massive, it seems impossible that any ancient culture would have had the means of positioning them with such precision.

At last, the summit to your Machu Picchu holidays will bring forth the dramatic climax to a journey that started more than 500 years ago. The mountains and surrounding natural scenery alone are a true wonder itself. The location of this mind-blowing, exotic looking Lost City is the real evidence of the intimate bond the Incas had with their environment. The magic and magnetism of the millenary stones will trap you in a deep reverie of our very human condition.

Let Peru Travel Now cater you with the best adventure by customizing every bit an detail of your perfect Cusco travel and Machu Picchu holidays. We will customize a trip that encompasses everything, from fine lodgings, to fulfilling tours to the most picturesque attractions. Peru Travel Now can give it all to you in one click!


This magical American city combines Hispanic legacy with Inca heritage, surprising the traveler every corner of the way. Cosmopolitan and captivating, it’s the perfect prelude to visit Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Center of the Earth in the Andean Worldview and main city of the Spanish Colony, Cusco is a metropolis forged by Inca and European influences. Considered as one of the architectonic jewels of the world, it constitutes an excellent example of the cultural syncretism conformed by the rich miscegenation that occurred in Peru.

Cusco is one of those cities where you can find a fresh past and a captivating history between its walls and temples, and even in its inhabitants. The expansion of the Inca Empire began here some eight hundred years ago. The Incas worshipped this city, considering it as the “bellybutton of the universe” and designed from this point the trails that united the four suyos or sections of the Empire, which in turn represented the four corners of the world. From this city, governors decided upon the life of an immense and highly diverse nation, erecting sumptuous palaces that have resisted the passing of time.

Cusco is a city to explore on foot. Begin by visiting the beautiful temples, as these will allow you to experience the essence of the city’s history. Among these you’ll find the Cathedral and the temples of La Compañia, La Merced and Santo Domingo; all erected on top of splendid stone palaces belonging to the Incas, who once governed the Tahuantinsuyo. Surprise yourself with a notable Pre-Hispanic art collection in the Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art, enjoy the city’s fusion gastronomy that welcomes all influences, and load up on the energy of the pure Andean air.

Visiting Cusco is finding a piece of history in every corner, along with the fragments that compose the Andean people’s identity. A city that heads towards modernity, soaked by the spell of its past.

Cusco’s surroundings offer a diversity of excursions that allow the traveler to enter the magical world of Peruvian culture: the Sacsayhuaman Fortress, the Tambomachay Aqueducts, Pikillaqta, Tipon and the Temple of Andahuaylillas, just to name a few. We recommend visiting Cusco calmly, adopting its laidback rhythm so you can enjoy the wonders of a city where history hangs thick in the air.


SAN BLAS NEIGHBORHOOD
Cusco’s famous “artisan neighborhood”. In accordance to the Colonial urban plan, it became the Mestee area of the city, thanks to the presence of hundreds of Spaniards that arrived to live here with the Natives. This coexistence and the whimsical geography of the place derived into the curious architecture of San Blas, which is different to the rest of the city: narrow streets on crooked slopes where the snow-white adobe houses decorated by bright blue doors, windows and balconies stand out. The Church of San Blas is the oldest in the city and was founded in 1562 on top of an Inca shrine dedicated to Illapa, the God of Thunder. The main attraction of the church is its pulpit, carved from one piece of Central American cedar in a Churriguersque style. Its profusion and detail contrast sharply with the simplicity of the temple.

The streets of San Blas keep small surprises for the traveler: dream-like facades, Inca walls composed by elaborately carved stones and some of the oldest temples of the city. San Blas is also home to some of the most famous artisans of Cusco. Here, houses have become workshops, schools and stores where all sorts of virgins and saints are produced, each with a unique style that has traveled around the globe. A visit you mustn’t miss.
SANTO DOMINGO CHURCH AND CONVENT
This religious complex was built over the Coricancha, or the “golden chamber” of the Incas, where the Sun was venerated. It’s said that this was the richest sanctuary in Cusco; that its walls were plated in gold and its gardens full of phytomorphic and zoomorphic figures also made from this precious metal. Two minor temples, located next to the Coricancha, shelter the mummies of the coyas, or the Inca Princesses, as well as the Gods of the Rainbow and Thunder, respectively. It was here where Francisco Pizarro kept the so-called Pennon of the Conquest-given to him by Phillip II so he could act on behalf of the Spanish Kingdom.
SACSAYHUAMAN
This grandiose Inca edification was designed between the XIV and XV century by Inca Tupac Yupanqui and it’s estimated that its construction required the strength of twenty thousand men during seventy years. Its strategic location on top of a hill offers an unparalleled view of the city. The complex is composed by gigantic walls of carved stone that form three superimposed platforms, which conclude in a zigzagged rampart. Many of its stones measure over eight meters in height and weigh more than thirty-six tons. The platforms are connected by openings and staircases, the most popular one being the so-called Puerta del Sol (Doorway of the Sun). Religious ceremonies were celebrated in the main plaza, called Patio of the Spears, where the ñustas would worship the sun every dawn. This is also the spot where the Inti Raymi, or Festival of the Sun, is commemorated every year.
PIKILLAQTA AND HUACARPAY LAGOON
Pikillaqta or “city of the fleas” is the main construction left by the Wari in Cusco’s surroundings. It’s conformed by seven hundred structures, with walls that measure up to twelve meters in height and have been erected following a rigorous pattern of right angles. Studies conducted in this site have determined that many of the walls were covered in plaster and painted in bright red. The nearby Huacarpay Lagoon is an important destination for those interested in bird-watching. In the town of Lucre, close to the lagoon, you’ll find the first Peruvian textile factory, opened in 1861, and right next to it the ruins of Rumicolca, an ancient Wari aqueduct that chronicles mistakenly regarded as the gateway to the Inca Capital.
ANDAHUAYLILLAS
This peaceful and isolated town preserves a jewel of religious architecture belonging to the colonial period: the Temple of San Pedro de Andahuaylillas, edified in the XVII century. Due to the profusion of its interior decoration it’s been called the Sistine Chapel of the Andes. The church owns a polychrome suspended ceiling decorated in the Mudejar Style and its walls are covered with paintings that narrate diverse religious scenes and whose frames are richly coated in gold leaf. The most notable paintings are two grand scenic murals that portray the path to heaven and the path to hell, attributed to Luis Riaño (1626-1628). The temple also keeps and old organ with six bellows fabricated in Spain and recently restored.
PAUCARTAMBO
This colonial town, edified on the path towards Cusco’s rainforest, still preserves many of its houses and original monuments, spread out among its narrow, stone-paved streets. Village of dancers and artisans, in Paucartambo the colorful festivity in honor of the Virgin of El Carmen is celebrated between the 15 and 17 of June; one of the most captivating and massive celebrations in the region. From here you can visit Tres Cruces and Acjanaco, located on the southern edge of the Manu National Park, where you can witness a breathtaking sunrise.
ABRA MALAGA
Abra Malaga (in Spanish abra menas “water gap”) is located in the middle of the route that connects Ollantaytambo, in the lower part of the Inca’s Sacred Valley, with Quillabamba and La Convencion, in Cusco’s tropical rainforest. In the ascent to the gap you’ll find a glacial valley where herds of llamas graze calmly. The highest point, at 4,230 masl, is marked by a small chapel built in honor of the Lord of Torrechayoc and allows the highway to cross the Vilcanota Mountain Range and enter the Amazon Plateau. From this spot, the view of the Veronica Snow Peak (5,350 masl) is overwhelming. Its name in Quechua, weqey wilka, means “tears of the warrior” and alludes to a legend that narrates how Inca Manco Capac cried when he saw the sun rise over these lands.

Abra Malaga is also an international attention center for bird watchers due to the existence of the most accessible Polylepis forest in the Andes, where two unique and endangered species of this region can be observed: the Royal Cinclodes (Cinclodes aricomae) and the Tit-Spinetail (Lepthastenura sp.), which can only be seen in Malaga and is one of the ten most endangered bird species in the world.
CUATRO LAGUNAS CIRCUIT
A route that combines traditional villages cradled in agricultural valleys of overwhelming beauty and numerous lagoons that bestow the landscape with a unique charm. The circuit initiates in Combapata, locality that owns a highly interesting temple dedicated to Saint Nicholas. A path begins at the town’s plaza, which crosses the Vilcanota River and ascends to the village of Chosica Canas, from where you can view Salcca Valley located on the other side of the river. A fork in the path will lead you to Acopia, surrounded by fields of barley that border the first lagoon: Asnacocha. In Acopia, there’s a church dedicated to Our Lady of Hope (Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza) and a small lagoon that carries the same name. Further ahead you’ll arrive to the village of Pomacanchi and its ample lagoon, the largest of the circuit, which you can navigate by boat. The path circles Pomacanchi and returns through Acopia and Asnacocha to the village of Mosoqllacta, emplaced high atop a hill that dominates the lake. Nearby you’ll locate Thumi, a small village on the shores of Pampamarca Lake. The adobe houses here own curious reed rooftops. Surrounded by lagoons, you’ll arrive to the village of Tungasuca, where in 1781 the rebellion of Tupac Amaru II broke out.
Copyright © Peru Travel Now - Photography Copyright © Walter H. Wust
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