It is a spectacular fortress, or temple as it´s called now, built with huge carved rocks laid together with absolute precision. Along with Machu Picchu and Choquequirao, it is undoubtedly one of the greatest architectural works of Tawantinsuyu. Its Quechua name means "satisfied falcon". It was erected on a high hill that overlooks the entire city and this falcon was believed to stand guard over the empire. Cusco was designed in the shape of a puma with Sacsayhuaman as the head and Koricancha corresponding to the feline's genitalia. We hired a local guide who was very friendly and knowledgable about this amazing work of art. After we spent a few hours hours here it starting raining -- January is rainy season so we had to wear our rain ponchos almost every day!
This town's name derives from the Quechua word p'isaqa pisaq, meaning partridge, very abundant bird in this area. The new town was built on the very edge of the Urubamba River, and while its ruins are located on the cliffs of the surrounding heights that test the lungs of anyone ve climbs up to them, located more than 3,000 meters in altitude. You must visit Pisaq on its market days, which are Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Sunday, the Pisac craft market is quite touristy, and the other two days are pretty local. You can buy carpets, rugs, ceramics and musical instruments. It is one of my favourite places in Peru. I recommend going before it gets too touristy.
The "Cathedral Basilica of the Virgin of the Assumption" was built between 1560 and 1664. Its outstanding reddish color was from the Spanish using it for building stones of Sacsayhuaman, the Inca fortress located on top of the city. Inside the Cathedral, the works of the "Cuzco School" are very interesting, as Christian art from Spain was adapted by local artists Inca traditions (for example, is very interesting to see the Last Supper with cuy as a main course).
The San Pedro market is opposite the train station of San Pedro and is huge. They sell what you'd imagine (mainly food) and it also has a sort of food court where you can eat very cheap typical food. I think that if you are in Cusco it is a must because you can learn a lot about the culinary culture.
The Armas Plaza is the main square in the center of Cuzco. After having been the center of the ancient Inca empire. Here are some of the more important sights in the city: the Church of the Jesuits and the Cathedral of Cuzco, as well as many restaurants and travel agencies. Any visitor should visit these places, but it's also very good for a break in the sun.
I went there the first day of 2003 and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It is a place that few tourists know, that's difficult to access. I had to walk far, but it was an adventure! It is a wonderful spot, ideal for getting lost, feeling alone in the company of nature, a gift for the spirit!
In the pictures you can see the famous stone of twelve angles, an example of Incan stone work mastery. The stone is known for its peculiarity of the presence of 12 angles which fits perfectly with the stones placed around part of the Wall Street Hatunrumiyoc (is a Quechua word that in Spanish means "Piedra Grande" ), in the center of Cusco. Today it is part of the Archbishop's Palace in the Art Museum of Cusco.
The Inca Trail is a 3-day trek that takes you from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. First of all, you should know that it's quite hard, because of the height. Another option is to take a train to Aguas Calientes, spend the night and the next day you can climb, walk or take a bus to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. If you decide to walk, stay 2-3 days in Cuzco first, to acclimatize, and not get altitude sickness. Take coca tea or chew coca leaves to help you withstand the altitude. If you get sick, do not continue, go down, save the climb for another time. The Inca trail is on the old road leading to the lost city. First arriving by train at kilometer 88. You cross a bridge over the Urubamba River and walk into the jungle, where you will see rare species of animals and orchids. You'll climb to over 4000 meters. Take it easy, and the smaller your group the better. Before leaving, go over all the details with your guide. The meals, how much water, sleep, the price difference between agencies is justified in the care of the participants. The tour costs 150-200 euros, which is very expensive for the country, but is supposed to limit the number of people climbing. It's a big effort hard, but when you get there on the third day, the Puerta del Sol, and discover the impressive ruins of Macchu Picchu, you forget everything.
In this neighborhood the majority of artisan workshops and goldsmiths are located. There are narrow and steep streets with old, Spanish-built houses over important Incan foundations. There are small inns and restaurants and which are very flirtatious. Curiously: the Quechua name of this neighborhood is Toq'ocachi which means the hollow of Sal.
The Qorikancha Site was the largest temple of the Inca empire. It was looted during the Spanish conquest and a church was built in the same place. Now a small museum was is there and it contains various elements like prehistoric Inca that are 7000 years old. I found the visit very enjoyable although I did not learn much.
In order to travel to Machu Picchu and not spend a lot of money you should first go to Cuzco and there you should get a tour. It'll take you to the ruins because making these reservations from another country will be very expensive. It's a very nice experience and you can see the village of Machu Picchu are two options for uploading to the ruins that are on a mountain, the first is on the second bus and walking which is what I recommend. To upload camiando takes two hours so you must start the walk at 4 am.
Along with the Inca ruins, Pisac market brings a lot of visitors to the city. These markets are open Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. There is great participation all of these days. On Sunday Pisac craft market is a bit touristy, but it's definitely a good experience, even if you're not interested in shopping sprees. It features a colorful environment, as many natives come from surrounding mountains to produce traditional garments. I was fortunate enough to visit on Sunday. There you can purchase Pisac artisan sweaters, carpets, rugs, carpets, ceramics and musical instruments. You can visit the market on Sunday, and then explore the ruins of Pisac Monday.
The Andean Explorer train from Cusco to Puno is much less touristy and therefore much cheaper than the more famous train to Machu Picchu. However, the landscapes are no less spectacular. The train crosses the Andres from Cusco, the capital of the Incan Empire, to the border with Bolivia at Lake Titicaca. The highest point of the route, La Raya, is over 4,313 metres high. This train route has been named the second most beautiful in the world, and the Andean Explorer covers a distance of 381km in 10 hours, so you have plenty of time to admire the scenery.
The route is as follows: from Cusco, the train heads southeast following the River Huatanay through green fields and forests of eucalyptus and willow. After 25km, it passes through Oropesa whose 47 bakeries have supplied bread to Cusco for centuries. At 32km, it passes Lake Muina, crosses the valley, and heads down to the Urubamba canyon. At 45km it passes Andahuaylillas church, an old colonial jewel, and at 59km it reaches Urcos. Between 80 and 99km, it passes two villages of pre-Colombian origin, and at 120km, the remains of the great temple of Viracocha, the creator god. La Raya, 210 km from Puno and 4321 meters in altitude , is the highest point on the cold and remote track. At 281 Km it reaches Juliaca, a train station and commercial city with about 150,000 inhabitants, whose rampant buying and selling seems to almost spill onto the train tracks. Puno (3,855 meters) is the final destination on the shores of Lake Titicaca, near Bolivia.
Tambomachay is eight kilometres from Cusco and one kilometre from Puca-Pucara, on the slopes of a hill. The name comes from two Quechua words: Tampu, open accomodation, and Mach'ay, resting place. Tambo is also called the Cave because there are caves nearby (Machay). It occupies an area of 437 square meters at 3,700 metres in elevation. It is small, but very beautiful and mystical.
Q'enqo is an Incan temple that is dedicated to Pachamama, Mother Nature. It is 1 km from the ruins of the ancient city of Sacsayhuaman. I thought this site was small but it's very different from others in the region. You can go through a natural tunnel and sit on thrones made of stone. It's okay to go not follow the typical tourist program.
The Museo de Arte Precolombino is located in a beautiful colonial house with a large courtyard in Plaza de las Nazarenas in Cusco's San Blas neighborhood. The museum exhibits extraordinary objects from 1250 BC to 1532 AD and includes wonders like Nazca ceramics, queros (wooden Inca ceremonial vessels), gold and silver work, bone and shell jewelry, and paintings from the colonial times. The museum is open every day from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.
About 7km from Cusco, you'll find this mystical place whose name means "red fortress" in Quechua because of the tone of the rocks at sunset. It is a military construction composed of overlapping terraces, interior squares, towers, high walls and stairways. It is spectacular in its construction and location.