Cobble-stoned streets, ancient architecture, little shops full of handcrafted treasures, an astounding culture and a place full of history, this is what I found during my time in Cusco. Known as the ancient Capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco offers visitors an absolutely magnificent view of the ancient Incan architecture along with an amazing history of the city.
After years of visiting Lima, I finally decided it was time to make a trip to Cusco. Knowing very little of the Inca history and never before setting foot on Machu Picchu, made me feel less of a Peruvian. Especially, when plenty of tourists from other countries had been there. So along with my cousins, we set of to the adventure of a lifetime.
Visiting Cusco was not easy, especially because I was at such a high altitude. When I first arrived to Cusco, I felt a bit lightheaded and warm. The airport had no air conditioner and the atmosphere felt dry; it was nothing I had expected, but then again I didn’t know what to expect. On my way out of the airport, the weather was cool, which is expected during winter. One of the first things I noticed was the dirt mountain straight ahead, I was excited. I couldn’t wait to see what Cusco had in store for me.
Before exploring the city of Cusco, one of the things that is strongly recommended to tourists is to acclimate. Since the elevation of Cusco is high, more than what we are used to, it is important to acclimate to the elevation or else be prepared to suffer from severe headaches or any other type of altitude sickness.
After a few hours of rest, I ventured out into the city of Cusco and made my way over to the main square, Plaza de Armas. During the time of the Inca Empire, this place was an important ceremonial spot where the Inti Raymi, Festival of the Sun, was celebrated every year. Full of renaissance buildings, Inka museums, delightful local restaurants and an enormous market with a variety of traditional items, Plaza de Armas is a stop every tourists should make before Machu Picchu.
One of the main attractions of the Plaza de Armas is the Cathedral of Santo Domingo. Located in the main square, this is one attraction that is hard to miss.
I enjoyed my time at the Plaza de Armas and though there is plenty to see and do, this was only a warm up for my ultimate destination – Machu Picchu.
Stay tuned for my next post on Machu Picchu and all the other wonderful places in Cusco.
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Cusco and the Machu Picchu are so on my location bucket list for 2015, and it’s great to hear that you did enjoy the city, but you’re totally right that it’s basically a warm up for the big stuff! How did you end up going with the altitude, and have to ever been to La Paz in Bolivia? That’s even higher and I don’t imagine how well I would deal with that altitude, so maybe Cusco should be my trail run for high cities in South America before I think about going there. Did you take anything to prevent altitude sickness, or did you just stick to taking it slow for a while before you ran out and did anything?
[…] to visit a spot many tourists are familiar with, Machu Picchu. As mentioned in my last post, Plaza de Armas, I had visited my family in Lima for several years and not once did I visit Machu Picchu. While […]