Take a trip to the only place on the continent, which has been inhabited continuously for so long and uncover why Cusco is an archaeological and visual treasure
Words: Emily Georgieva
Photography: Persnickety Prints
19 January 2019
From the Rainbow Mountain to the Pisac Ruins, you can explore the treasures of Peru very easily if you start from Cusco. Not only offering great views and fun times, the city is also closely located to many areas of cultural significance, such as the Sacred Valley and camping there for a week or so can mean that you will be able to see a lot of Peru in a short amount of time. This is one of the reasons why Cusco is preferred not just by people, who are drawn to the cultural importance of the Inca Empire, but also by backpackers, who travel on a budget and have mapped out shorter stay in each location.
The central square of the city Plaza de Armas is a home to the Cusco Cathedral - a UNESCO heritage site as well as Church de La Compañia de Jesus. The Plaza de las Nazarenas is just as fascinating. A quieter place to hang out at, the Plaza charms with its tranquillity and a sense of belonging, which even travellers, who come from a great distance can feel. The balconies and facades of the buildings are typical for the area, possessing a hint of idyll.
If you are looking for a single place that can summarise Cusco, we recommend heading to San Pedro market. There you will be surrounded by narrow streets, where the air is tangled with voices, sights and smells of all kinds. The market represents an extended palette of Cusco's personality. You can get to know the city from this particular place and get closer to what the locals’ value.
Travelers are encouraged to become familiar with the Peruvian cuisine. You can visit some of the chocolate houses and sample the famous Peruvian cocoa and chocolate. There are also a number of cooking classes, which people can take and learn how to prepare traditional dishes in Peruvian kitchens. The experience becomes something as a gift from Cusco, which nomads can take with them back home and share the culture of Peru with others.
A great way to get closer to the local culture and try to understand its roots is to visit some of the museums where you can learn a lot about Cusco and the history of Peru. However, a great way to guarantee an authentic experience is to dedicate some time to look at the stars. This activity was central in the belief system of the Incas. You can visit the Cusco Planetarium or get on board of the 'Cusco By Night' Tour, which will take you to the planetarium, as well as take you on a trip around the city and head to Plaza Regocijo, where on a clear night you can best enjoy the company of the stars.
Since we mentioned the stars, it's only fair to talk about the Sun as well. The famous Festival of the Sun is annually help on June 24th and it is a time when the streets of Cusco transform overnight. Musicians, performers and dancers go out to celebrate and pay their tribute to the Sun. The festival is quite the experience and some people travel to the area especially to be a part of the celebrations.
From Cusco the map seems to lead towards the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Make sure you've packed everything you need and keep roaming around South America on a trail revealing some of the greatest views that exist.