Cusco, Peru is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Americas. The ancient city was the capital of the Inca Empire and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cusco’s main square, the Plaza de Armas, has been the heart of the city since Incan times and retains an impressive sense of uniqueness and authenticity. In Plaza San Francisco, only a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas you will find many nice cafes and also the main market selling a mix of items including clothing and souvenirs. The Baroque Campañia de Jesús, a 16th-century Jesuit church, is a must-see. The city’s only shortcoming, particularly for new arrivals, is the altitude causing shortness of breath.
Most travelers use Cusco as their base to begin a tour or trek to The Lost City of the Incas more famously known as Machu Picchu. Rainbow Mountain should be on everyone’s checklist in Cusco. As fascinating as Machu Picchu, the mountain offers a scenery full of colors created by the minerals in the area.
Inca Temple of the Sun
To the southeast is Santo Domingo Church, built on the magnificent ruins of Coricancha, the famous Inca Temple of the Sun. Museo Machu Picchu includes the recently returned collection of 360+ artifacts removed by Hiram Bingham. Museo Inka walks through Peruvian civilizations from pre-Inca to Inca in a lovely 17th-century colonial mansion. The San Blas neighborhood is a popular area of steep stone-paved streets, art galleries and studios, artisans workshops and shops, bars and pubs. Visit The Center for Traditional Textiles main store which is located in the heart of Cusco, exactly next to the Qoricancha. The “Weaving Lives” Museum has free entry with shows to watch weaving demonstrations.