Estamos en Cusco

Cusco – probably the most famous city in Peru – was our next destination…

Cusco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is EXTREMELY popular with tourists… yep, that’s a polite way of saying there were tons of gringos in town – especially in the historic centre!?! 😉

We chose to stay outside, but within walking distance, of the historic centre in a suburb called Wanchaq… Wanchaq was a pretty relaxed suburb, with heaps of shops and restaurants and its own market…it felt more like staying in the ‘real’ Cusco than the tourist version of the historic centre… It also had a bit of a studenty feel as the uni was very close by…

Wanchaq – a cool suburb to stay in while in Cusco 🙂
Street art in Wanchaq.
More street art in Wanchaq.

The historic centre of Cusco was a pretty nice place to hang out… we spent quite a lot of time sitting on the steps of the Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas – it was a pretty good spot for people watching over a bottle of Black (a Peruvian soft drink…) 🙂 But, to be honest the whole of central Cusco was pretty interesting with several nice plazas, a few colourful murals, and some interesting colonial buildings to look at… There was also the famous twelve-angled stone, which forms part of an Inca wall in the historic centre…

Plaza de Armas in Cusco.
Cusco Cathedral
Black Cola… less than half the price of real coke – but a pretty similar taste!
The Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús on Plaza de Armas.
A cool mural on Avenida El Sol.
One of Cusco’s smaller plazas.
The famous twelve-angled stone… impressive, or what 🙂 Patience is however needed when visiting here, as you have to wait for the selfie line to move on before you can take a picture!

To visit a lot of the sights that are on offer in Cusco – and beyond i.e. in the Sacred Valley – you need to buy a Boleto Turístico (a Tourist Ticket). These tickets don’t come cheap, BUT at 130 soles ($54 AUD, or if you prefer 30 GBP) they get you into 16 different tourist attractions… so if you visit all 16 attractions you’re only really paying just over 8 soles per attraction (around $3.50 AUD or 1.90 GBP)…not that bad really!?!? On the other hand – we consider ourselves devoted tourists with quite a lot of time and we didn’t manage to visit all 16…we managed 9 out of 16… some of the ones that we missed just didn’t seem very interesting – others were quite challenging to get to if you weren’t on a tour…

Our tourist tickets – with these in hand we were ready to be tourists in Cusco!

We took in four sights in central Cusco, that were included in the tourist ticket, and some were better than others…

El Museo de Sitio Qoricancha was probably our least favourite of the four places…it was a pretty small museum that was underground – it had a few ceramic items and some deformed skulls, but not a lot else…

PB emerges from the underground museum…

Our second museum experience was more of a success – although El Museo Histórico Regional wasn’t that big either, it was located over 2 floors in a nice building (above ground!?!) and detailed an introduction to the history of Cusco from the days of megafauna to the arrival of the Spanish 🙂

The museum building.

Our third museum – El Museo de Arte Popular – was an awesome museum filled with artwork 🙂 The artwork was really interesting, and varied from masks to intricate sculptures of figures, birds and even whole villages… Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside 🙁

We’ve made it to the Museum of Popular Art…

And finally we made it to the Monumento a Pachacuteq – Pachacuteq was the Inca leader who not only founded the city of Cusco, but he also expanded the Inca empire into the Sacred Valley – quite an important Inca then 😉 The tower that the statue of Pachacuteq sits on is actually a museum – although to be honest there wasn’t a whole heap of information and we enjoyed the museum primarily for the view, the visit to this part of town, and also for the awesome street art near the monument.

Pachacuteq Monument.
A view from the top of the Pachacuteq monument.
Machu Picchu street mural.
Street art.
Local people and a parrot lick street mural
An Andean Spectacled Bear and two cocks-of-the-rocks mural.

There was one place left for us to visit in Cusco – a ‘must-see’ according to the Lonely Planet, which went as far to say ‘If you only visit one site in Cusco, make it these Inca ruins’… Admission to Qorikancha wasn’t included in the Tourist Ticket, BUT with a bit of fomo we decided to visit anyway…

Qorikancha – the Inca temple of the sun – was once one of the most important Inca temples… Today, however, it’s pretty hard to visualise what it used to be, as all that remains are a few Inca stonewalls… When the Spanish came to Cusco, they destroyed the temple, and the land was donated to the religious order the Dominicans, who then built their the church and convent of Santo Domingo on top of the Inca ruin…

The church and convent of Santo Domingo… and home to the ruins of Qorikancha.
Inside the Convent.
A view of the gardens, and the city of Cusco.
Some of the remains of the great Temple of the Sun… This place is on every tour itinery!

All in all, Cusco gets a huge thumbs up – and we reckon that the Tourist Ticket was worth buying – but that we shouldn’t have succumbed to fomo, and the hype of the Lonely Planet……

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