Part 1: Getting to the Sacred Valley is Not Easy
Part 2: The Most Awesome Hotel Ever
Part 3: When in Urubamba…
Part 4: A Town Called Olly
Part 5: Can You Pass the Salt?
Part 6: How to Get to Machu Picchu
Part 7: I Came, I Saw, I Conquered (Machu Picchu)
Part 8: My Love Affair with Starwood Continues
Part 9: Hats Galore in Pisac (and other things)
Cusco is a strange mix of modern and old. With nearly 350 million people, Cusco is Peru’s seventh largest city, but it is also the capital of the ancient Inca empire. We saw real street lights for our first time in Peru and large, modern stores, but the city reeks of oldness. The city is literally built on the layers of its Inca foundation. Many buildings retain their original Inca stone foundation, and there are small Inca ruins scattered throughout the city.
Cusco is also extremely hilly. You can hike up (or take a bus or taxi) up to Christo Blanco (White Jesus) for beautiful panoramic views of the city below. You can make out the Plaza de Armas and the two famous churches in Cusco’s main square.
The Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman are about a 10 minute walk from the White Jesus. We had seen plenty of ruins already so we opted to simply photograph the ruins from afar.
This is a classic Cusco street: Cobblestone roads, colonial architecture, and stone foundations with mountains lurking in the background.
An awesome alligator sculpture in the middle of Cusco:
Here we are wandering around the Plaza de Armas, the heart of Cusco’s bustling city life. Tourists mix with citizens enjoying a short rest on the many benches.
After some downtime in Plaza de Armas, we made our way uphill to San Blas, Cusco’s artsy neighborhood. Be prepared to hike up steep cobblestone roads, but take comfort in knowing you can stop to catch your breath to laugh at Cusco’s version of the food truck and smile at the creative street murals.
This was awesome – just a young couple painting a mural on the wall outside their apartment.
As we walked back to our hotel, I snapped a photograph of one of the side streets. It’s not particularly beautiful, but it is a good example of Cusco’s ancient charm. Notice the bottom layer or neatly stacked stones on the right wall — those are the Inca stones. The messy, round stones on top were laid by the Spanish colonialists. Much of Cusco looks like this – a city of layers, an evocative mix of past and present.