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Cuzco City Guide - Things to See
When the Spanish arrived here, Cuzco was the largest and most important city in the western hemisphere. It's population today is 140,000... 99% of whom are Indian. It is more than 2 miles in elevation and has an unusual combination of Spanish colonial architecture and Old Indian culture. The Indians have not altered their dress, methods of farming, or traditions for over 400 years. You'll probably arrive at the new Velasco Asete Airport, where crowds of vendors will surround the plane as soon as it lands. A firm "no" is the best reaction. Do not rush as you leave the plane. The high altitude can cause dizziness or sickness.

Plaza de Armas: This is the center of the city, and the site of the Inca walls and temples that have withstood the Conquistadors, two earthquakes, and 400 years of sun and wind. Observe the Indians around the plaza. The women wear multi-skirts with white stovepipe hats perched on top of their jet-black hair. Many, carry huge loads on their backs, or lead donkeys and Ilamas through the streets. The largest structure here is the Cathedral, which took 94 years to build. It was built by the Spanish from stones pulled down from the destroyed Inca temple. Adjoining the cathedral is the totally intact Temple of Triumph which was constructed by Pizarro's three brothers to celebrate the victory over the Inca Revolt of 1536. On the south side of the plaza is Cuzco's finest church La Compania, which was built on the ruins of the Inca Temple of the Servants. Note the intricately etched gold altars and the beautiful wooden dome. Next to the church is the University of Cuzco, which was founded by Bolivar in 1821. This square is what you would expect to find in Peru.

Calle Loreto: This is a true Inca street... narrow, cobblestone, lined on both sides with walls, on top of which homes have been built. You'll see ruins of Temple of the Serpents, remains of the Inca House of the Women of the Sun, the Temple of Corichancha, which rests on the site of the sacred Inca Temple of the Sun, the largest and most important structure in the kingdom. It wasn't until 1950 when a tremendous earthquake hit, that the walls of the temple were uncovered, virtually intact. The Santo Domingo Church has been built around the walls so that visitors have a clear view of the remains. Very interesting!

Cuzco Indian Market: The streets are parked with vehicles, and hundreds of people browse and buy at the bright-red-roofed stalls. These stalls are full of interesting items ranging from trinkets to fine, handcrafted alpaca rugs. Be alert! Pickpockets thrive here.

Museum of Archeology: Located two blocks from the Plaza de Armas... crammed full of Inca and pre-Inca stonework, mummies, textiles. Mon-Fri 8-12,2-5.

El Convento de las Nazarenas: A fine example of mixed architectural styles. The stones of the building were taken from the Temple of the Serpents.

Pisac: Located 20 miles from Cuzco, the market takes place on Thursday and Sunday mornings. The vendors spread their wares on the ground. The best buys are alpaca items and jewelry. Do bargain! A highlight here is the Sunday morning formal procession of the village's twelve mayors through town, accompanied by musicians who blow into a reed-like instrument. The Indians here dress totally different from those in Cuzco. The women wear red skirts and flat, round,red hats. The men dress in brown trousers and jackets. Everyone is shoeless. This is about the most famous Indian market in South America.
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Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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