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While Cuzco and Machu Picchu are obligatory destinations for the first trip to Peru, the country has much more to offer. There is too much to see and do in one trip, so plan you're itinerary according to your interests and the season.



Location: 1105 km. southeast of Lima
Altitude: 3399 m.a.s.l
Population: Approx. 1,316,729
City founding: 11th century time
Time zone: UTC -5
Geographical Location:  Located at 3,414m in southeastern Peru



The History of the City of Cusco

Legends are already entwined around the origin of Cusco because the later capital of the Incas was only founded around the year 1200 by the first Incas. According to some legends, the first Inca founded the city together with his wife, others speak of four brothers.


Even more interesting is the legend that the first Inca was created by the sun god from the waters of Lake Titicaca. The "first Inca" was Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, they laid the foundation for what we know today as Cusco.


With a staff in hand, the Inca set out on a journey to find a suitable place for the capital of the Inca Empire - the staff naturally possessed magical powers and was therefore only easy to drive into the fertile soil in Cusco. Originally, the city was built on this site in the shape of a giant puma. This shape is also related to the legend of Lake Titicaca because the lake looks like a hunting puma on satellite images.


The second legend is four brothers and their wives; Ayar Manco and Mama Ocllo, Ayar Cachi and Mama Cora, Ayar Uchu and Mama Rahua, and Ayar Auca and Mama Huaco; who together with ten "ayllus" (Inca organization that groups 10 families) undertook a long journey in search of fertile lands where they could settle.

Cusco legends



Apart from all these legends about the origin of the Inca Empire, Cusco became the influential capital of the Inca and was continuously expanded after its foundation around 1200. Numerous rulers of the Inca had their seat in Cuzco and expanded their huge empire from there - however, there were also very often conflicts over control and difficulties with attackers.


Over the next 250 years, Cusco continued to develop. Its rulers had the typical terraced fields laid out on which corn and grain was grown, canals were built that supplied the city with fresh water and trade flourished. Cusco was not only the cultural but also the economic center of the Inca Empire until the 11th Inca Huayna Capac took over the Inca Empire in 1493. He moved the "capital" to Quinto - and somehow that was to be the beginning of the end.


In fact, shortly before his death, he divided the kingdom into two parts: the northern one, which he gave to his son Atahualpa and which had its seat in Cajamarca, and to his son Huascar, who kept the south with Cusco. Things didn't go well at all and soon the two brothers were at war to the death.


In 1532, Atahualpa's troops captured Huascar in Mullihambato and executed him, leaving Atahualpa as the sole ruler. However, the Spanish invaders under Francisco Pizarro learned of the news of the City of Gold (El Dorado) and they went to invade.


With the invasion of the Spaniards in 1533, the decline of the mighty city began. Cusco was sacked and many Inca temples were demolished to build churches and other buildings according to the conquerors' designs. Cusco was finally completely destroyed after several sieges and attacks around 1535 and lost its former importance after the founding of Lima by the Spanish.


A final rebellion of the Manco Inca, in 1535, involving 100,000 men, nearly defeated the Spanish but was averted at the last second.


Several strong earthquakes, most recently in 1950, destroy large parts and many old buildings in Cusco. Today, however, there are still some Inca ruins that still exist, like many colonial buildings in the old town, and are an attractive destination on a city tour. Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 and is now of great interest to visitors from all over the world, mainly due to its close proximity to the mysterious Inca city of Machu Picchu.


Today, Cusco is the tourist center of Peru, but it is also one of the most important cities in the country. The city is popular with all types of travelers, such as backpackers, individual travelers, or group travelers. But you also often see language travelers and exchange students here. Cusco is the starting point for tours to Macchu Picchu or the Rainbow Mountain and is easy to reach from Lima.




Cusco City

The ancient Inca Capital is said to have been founded around AD 1100, and since then has developed into a major commercial and tourism center of 1,316,729 inhabitants most of whom are Quechua. The city council has designated Qosqo (Cuzco in Quechua) as the official spelling.


Today colonial churches, monasteries, convents, and extensive pre-Colombian, ruins are interspersed with countless hotels, bars restaurants that cater to hundreds of thousands of visitors. Almost every central street has remains of Inca walls, arches and doorways; the perfect Inca stonework now serves as the foundation for more modern dwellings. This stonework is tapered upwards (battered): every wall has a perfect line of inclination toward the center, from bottom to top. The curved stonework of the Temple of the Sun, for example, is probably unequaled in the world.


Cuzco is considered one of the most ancient cities on the continent. The name Qosqo in Quechua means "The earth's navel".


There are many myths about the creation of the city. However, it is known that the city existed before the Inca Empire (5000 BC).


The Spanish foundation of the city took place in 1534. Later it was the seat of the first Bishop of South America and the center of great cultural activity. Cuzco had one of the most outstanding art schools of the world: the Escuela Cusqueña. The basic characteristic of the city is its perfect blend of the urban with the pre-Colombian monuments. Among the most outstanding places, is the Qoricancha temple, which is located near the Main Square. This was the center of the cult to the Sun God or Inti. On top of this temple. the Spanish built the Santo Domingo Convent. The Compañia de Jesus is considered the most beautiful churches of the continent.


The Cathedral and La Merced Churches are some of the Spanish legacy. Walking along the streets of the city. there are wonderful things to visit as the craftsmen village known as San Blas. Its temple is a magnificent piece of colonial art. In and out of Cuzco there are great things to see. For example, in the center of the city are the Sacsayhuaman ruins or the complex of Ollantaytambo and the towns of Pisac and Calca. And of course Machu Picchu, an awe-inspiring city. There are also religious festivities that you can enjoy such as the Procession of the Corpus Christi or the Inti Raymi. Come to Cuzco. Nothing you have ever done is even close to a visit to Cusco.




Cusco Sights

Cusco Cathedral

Coricancha Church

San Francisco Church
Sacsayhuaman Corpus Christi Cusco Andahuaylillas Church
Chinchero Cusco Museum Regional  Q'uenqo
Pukapukara Tambomachay Tipon




Cusco: Tourist Attractions

Machu Picchu Inca Trail Salkantay
Choquequirao Vilcabamba Rainbow Mountain
Quillabamba Chinchero Ausangate
Palcoyo Mountain Pallay Poncho Moray
Ollantaytambo Pisac Paucartambo

Cusco or Cuzco


Cusco or Cuzco

The correct name is Cusco, it is not Cuzco



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