Cusco was the grand imperial heart of the Incan Empire during its 90 year peak from the 1420s to the 1530s. It is located in a beautiful valley, known as the “navel of the world” to the Incans due to its central location of the 4 corners of the Inca’s empire known at the time as Tawantinsuyu.The grandest architecture of pre-Columbian America graced its streets. The main temple complex of Cusco, Qurikancha, had an exterior wall plated with solid glow so that the entire interior plaza was bathed in golden light. As if that were not spectacular enough, there was a room where the entire interior was covered in solid gold plates and inside were life-size gold statues of llamas, alpacas, corn, and every imaginable thing important to the Incas. The Spanish reports called it “fabulous beyond belief”. Unfortunately, the Conquistadors in their greed melted it all down into soulless ingots to be shipped back to Spain from the new plunder port in Lima.
Here is a few picture sof the Qurikancha Temple, at least what is left of it after a church was built over the top of it. There is also a nice city park adjacent.
Nowadays Cusco has some Spanish Colonial architecture of white washed walls and blue doors, and large brownstone Catholic cathedrals built on top of the old Incan buildings, as well as some ugly modern buildings on the outskirts.
Below is a good example of the colonial white and blue buildings.
Some old Incan masonry still stands in many parts of Cusco.
More photos of the cathedrals.
Here is our plane we took to Cusco from Arequipa.
More Inca walls.
Here was a parade that went by on May Day.
View from San Blas Square at night.
Many locals chew coca leaves, and you can buy them at the store.
Our hotel is located up in the artsy hillside section of town known as San Blas where there still remain many Incan ruins and ancient narrow streets that barely fit cars (since the Incans built roads for llamas not cars).
We had a nice view of the Plaza de Armas from the 2nd story Starbucks. Cafe culture isn’t very strong in Peru, and we didn’t find many good cafes with decent coffee.
At this restaurant we had a nice Peruvian dinner.