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Alice Smith
Alice Smith Watson
Thank you to everyone!! It was a beautiful time… the teachers were so much fun and everyone gave me whatever i needed. When I come back to Cuzco I will definitely come to say hi to everyone! Good Luck!!

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» General Information of Cusco

Cusco, the “Archaeological Capital of American” was the capital of the fabled Inca Empire. Most striking in Cusco is the super imposition and mingling of three cultures, the native Quechua Indian, the conquering colonial Spanish and the modern. The main square of Cusco Know as the Wajaypata in the times of the Incas, it was the side of many religious, cultural and ethnic celebrations and it is still an ideal meeting place.

There, practically at all times you can find people from all over the world hanging around. The cathedral and La Compañia, two main colonial churches of Cusco, beautifully frame the square. Other colonial churches which should not be missed, they are Santo Domingo, the convent of Santa Catalina and San Blas with its famous pulpit, it is the neighborhood of the artists.

A visit to Cusco without a pilgrimage to the legendary Machu Picchu and return to Cusco in the afternoon, unless you are staying in a hotel in the archeological site or at Aguas Calientes. The more adventurous can hike and camp on the Inca trail, a three to four day trek, which can be arranged in Cusco. Day trips through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the fortress of Ollantaytambo and the Inca agricultural terraces of Pisaq should not be passed up. From Cusco excursions to Sacsayhuman, the massive Inca fortress overlooking the city, Tambomachay, Puka-Pukara and Kenko can also be arranged in any agency, but be cautious, some people in the street will offer themselves to guide you, might be putting up an scam.
An excursion to the colorful Indian markets of Pisac or Chinchero will load you up with handicrafts, both towns have Inca remains.

Churches

The Cathedral: The Church of Triumph was built on what was the Suntur Wasi, and then later built on the hilltop of Kiswarkancha (Palace of the Inka Wiracocha). In 1556, Juan Manuel de Veramendi began the construction, which was later continued by Juan Correa, Miguel Gutierrez Zancio, Francisco Becerra and Francisco Chavez y Arellano. The 1650 earthquake did not damage the building, but as a precaution, the builders changed the design of the facade and the belltowers, ruling out a third floor. The Work finished in June 1654, and it was inaugurated on August 14 the same year. At the time, the Bishop was Don Pedro de Ortega y Sotomayor, town councillor Jose Idiaquez Isasi and the King of Spain was FeIipe IV.

In August 1669 it was definitively finished and opened by Bishop Fray Bemardo Izaguirre. The force behind the project were Bishop Juan de Ocon and Canon Diego Arias de la Cerda, and among the donors and patrons was Bishop Don Manuel de Mollinedo y Angulo. The cathedral was made up of a latin cross shaped first floor, with processional aisles and ambulatories; it has a chapter house, three naves, a sacristy, ten lateral chapels and it is linked to the Churches of Triumph and the sacred family church.

The exterior and interior facades are Renaissance style. The maximum height is 32.97 m. The interior is decorated with cedar and alder wood carvings. The most striking are those of Martin Torres and Melchor Huamán, and the best works are those of the choir, the pulpit, and the wooden carvings on the altars and pews.

The most important paintings are Oil Painting of Our Lady the Ancient, or the Pardon, The Last Supper by Marcos Zapata, The Christ on the Cross by mestizo painters (the copy of a work by Spanish painter Alonso El Cano). There are also paintings by Diego Quispe Tito, Juan Espinoza de Los Monteros, Antonio Sinchi Roca, Basilio Santa Cruz Pumacallo and anonymous artists. There are also objects of art of embossed silver, like the processional carriage, carrying poles, frontpieces and other ornaments. The most important chapels are those of the "Señor de los Temblores" (Lord of the Earthquakes), "Virgen de los Remedies" (the Virgin of Remedies), "Virgen de Choqonchaka" (the Virgin of Choqonchaka) and the "Capilla de la inmaculada Concepción" (Immaculate Conception Chapel) or "La Linda" (The Beautiful).

The Company of Jesus: Its construction was ordered by the Jesuit priests who arrived in Cusco in 1571. The Work began in 1576 in a place called Amaru Kancha (barrio) of Wayna Qhapaq, according to the design of architect Don Francisco Becerra. The 1650 earthquake damaged its construction, whereupon construction began again in 1661 under the orders of architect and Jesuit priest Juan Bautista Egidiano. It took 15 years to complete and was inaugurated on August 19, 1668.

The design of the facade and the towers was drawn up by the Jesuit priest Fructuoso Viera and the man who carried out the design was architect Diego Martinez de Oviedo. The main floor is in the shape of a latin cross and has only one nave, two towers with eye of the bull windows, framed within the front of the church facade. The transept ends in a cupola of great Baroque architectural style. In its interior stand out the carved pendentives which were also done in the Baroque style.

The altarpieces are made of cedar and these are covered with gold leafing. There are oil paintings of Peruvian Princess Isabel Ñusta with Diego Onas de Loyola and another of the union between the Loyolas and the Borjas. Other painters represented here include Marcos Zapata, Basilio Santa Cruz, Basilio Pacheco, Cipriano Gutierrez, Rivera and others who are anonymous.
Among the more important sculptures are those of "San Jerónimo" and "San Francisco" saints which are located in the Sacristy, done by Melchor Huamán Mayta.

The Merced church and Convent: Brother Sebastian de Trujillo y Castaneda founded the convent and church in 1536 in a place called Llimpipata. The foundation was confirmed by a Papal Bull from Pío IX in 1561.

The old cloister and church functioned until 1650, when they were damaged by the earthquake. They were rebuilt in 1675. In me construction participated native master builders such as Alonso Casay and Francisco Monya, while the most important benefactors were the Pizarros and the Almagros among others. The facade is exceptionally beautiful, and the church spire has been worked in a remarkable Baroque style. The floor of the three naves has pilaster pillars and arches. The first cloister has a rich decoration done in cedar carvings.

The silverwork that most stands out is that of the Custody of La Merced in two styles, the upper part in Baroque style done in 1720 by Juan de Olmos, Spanish silversmith. The lower part in Renaissance style was worked by Cusco silversmith Manuel de la Piedra in 1805. It weighs 22.20 kg, is 1.30m high and is encrusted with 1,518 diamonds, 615 precious stones, rubies, topazes and emeralds. The custody is located in the interior of the convent in the first cloister.

Church of Santo Domingo: This order was founded in the city of Cusco in 1534. It was the first convent of the order to be built in Peru. The church and convent were built on top of the most important religious building in the Tawantinsuyo, the temple of the Sun, or Qorikancha. The church collapsed in 1537 and was later rebuilt by architects Juan de Albanil and Martin Gonzales de Lagos. The 1650 and 1950 earthquakes also damaged the building, after which it was restored.

The church of Santo Domingo has the same layout and shape as La Merced and Saint Francis. The church has retained the 16th century style and it is the essence of the evolution of Cusco architecture. The church spire is eminently Baroque, and dates from the early 18th century. It is a monument to Peruvian architecture.

In the apse of the church the Dominican friars guard another treasure: the image of Santo Domingo de Guzman, carved in 1698 by Indian sculptor Melchor Huamán, and paintings by Juan de Espinoza and Diego Quispe Tito. Here is the burial site of Juan Pizarro, Diego Sairi Tupaq and of Felipe Tupac Amaru. Don Diego de Ojeda wrote the work "Cristiada", an important documentary, in this convent.

The church of San Blas: The parish was built in the 16th century, and is the oldest in Cusco. The church houses the most extraordinary wooden carving, in the Spanish Churriguerra style. The pulpit is the most impressive cedar wood carving known in Peru, done by indigenous artists, who have remained anonymous. The main altarpiece is Baroque and guilded. Another fine altarpiece is that of the "Virgen del Buen Suceso" (Virgin of the Good Event), done by artist Mateo Tuyro Tupac. At the same time, there is also a noteworthy fresco of the same Virgin.

Church and convent of San Francisco: Founded by the Franciscan friars in 1645, this church has two facades and a single tower, all worked in old Spanish style hewing of stones. Work was finished in 1652. In the interior of the convent, there is a huge oil painting measuring 12 m. by 9 m. detailing the family tree of the Franciscan family done by Juan Espinoza de los Monteros. There are also works by Diego Quispe Tito, Basilio Santa Cruz, Antonio Sinchi Roca and Marcos Zapata among others.

Church and Convent of Santa Catalina: Founded in Cusco by Mrs. Lucia de Padilla and Don Jerónimo de Pacheco in 1605, these constructions were built on the plot of land called Ajlla Wasi, or the House of the Virgins of the Sun. The architectural style belongs to the final stages of Renaissance, with the presence of Roman arches. It has a chapter house with murals and other works of art such as magnificent silver pieces, weavings, gilding, and Baroque altarpieces. There are also oil paintings including a collection of works by painter Juan Espinoza de los Monteros and an enormous painting of the "Virgen de la Asuncion" (Virgin of the Ascension) and another oil painting of the "Glorificacion de Santa Catalina" (Glorifying of Santa Catalina), done by Lorenzo Sanchez.

Church of San Pedro: The parish church of San Pedro was built on the same site as the Natural Hospital in 1668. The main architect was Juan Tomas Tuyro Tupac. The interior is decorated elegantly although sober. The church has many important paintings, sculptures, wood carvings and gold leafing. The pulpit was carved by the same artist who was in charge of the construction of the church, Juan Tomas Tuyro Tupac.

Church and convent of Santa Clara: Founded in 1558, the constructions were built by mestizo and indigenous master builders and stonemasons and the architect Brother Manuel Pablo, who finished the work. It has an impressive main altar and altarpiece with Venetian mirrors, the only of its kind in Cusco and was built by Pedro de Oquendo.

Museums

Many museums are in colonial houses, the interiors are interesting as the exhibits.

Inka Museum: The museum building, it is at the corner of Tucuman and Ataud street, a steep block northeast of the Main square, rests on Inca foundations, it’s also known as the Admiral’s house, after the first owner, Admiral’s House, after the first owner, Admiral Francisco Aldrete Maldonado. It was badly damaged in the 1650 earthquake and rebuilt by Pedro Peralta de los Rios. Further damage, which occurred during the 1950 earthquake, has now been fully repaired, restoring the building to its position among Cusco’s finest colonial houses.

The architecture has several interesting features, including a massive stairway guarded by sculptures of mythical creatures, there is a corner window column that from the inside look like a statue of a bearded man but from the outside appears to be it a naked woman. The façade is plateresque an elaborately ornamented 16th century Spanish style suggestive of silver plate. The ceilings are ornate, and the views from the windows are good. The building restored interior is filled with a fine collection of metal and gold work, jewelry, pottery, textiles, mummies and more. The museum has 450 queros (Inca wooden drinking vessels), which is the largest queros collection in the world, some are in storage. This is the best museum if you are interested in the Incas.

Archaeological Museum - Qoricancha: This small modern underground museum is inside the church of Santo Domingo and you can to see it from Sol Avenue. There are various archaeological displays that interpret both Inca and pre- Inca cultures. The admission is with the ticket.

Regional Museum: This museum is the colonial house of Garcilaso de la Vega, the house of the Inca historian that is buried in the cathedral. The chronologically arranged collection begins with arrowheads from Preceramic Period and continues with a few pots of the Chavin, Vicus, Mochica, Chimu, Chancay and Inca cultures. There is also a Nazca mummy a few Inca weavings (some of which show a marked similarity to the older weavings available for sale in the Cusco area today) and some small gold ornaments excavated from Qoricancha between 1972 and 1979, and from the Main square in 1996 while the fountain was being renovated. The Labels are in Spanish, and there weren’t enough of them on my most recent visit. Some pieces from the archaeology museum may be exhibited here during expansion.

Also on display are a dozen of paintings from the Cuzco school, as well as some more recent Mestizo art (mainly with religious themes) and pieces of colonial furniture, there are some changing local art shows. It’s open from 8 am. to 5:30 pm. Monday to Saturday. The admission is with the turist ticket.

Religious Art Museum: This building on Hatunrumiyoc was originally the palace of the Inca Roca but it was later used as the foundation for the residence of the Marquis of Buena Vista. It later became to the archbishop’s palace and it is sometimes referred to by that name. The church donated the mansion to house a religious art collection. Many of the painting are notable for the accuracy of their period detail. There are some impressive stained glass windows in one part of the museum. The colonial style tile work of the interior is not original and it was replaced in 1940. It’s open from 9 to 11;30 am. and 3 to 5:30 pm. daily except Sunday (when it may be open in the afternoon ). The admission is with the turist ticket.

Municipal palace museum: The city hall of Cusco is on the Regocijo square, it has a small collection of modern local art on display. Hours: from 9:30 am. to 5 pm. weekday and sometimes on Saturday. The Entry is with the turist ticket.

Natural History museum: This museum is run by the Nacional University, and the entrenvr is to the right of La Compañía church on the Main square. It has a collection of local animals, birds and a few other items. It’s open weekdays from 9 am. to noon and 3 to 6 pm.

Neighborhood of Cusco

San Blas Neighborhood: 4 blocks from the Main Square, it is also known as the neighborhood of the artisans because it is the house of the most distinguished popular artists of the city.

Acllawasi: House of the Virgins of the sun. Used to be the house of the choose women. It is located in Loreto street w/n.

The nearby remains: The nearby remains refers to the four archaeological rests closest to Cusco; Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay. They are often visited in a day even less if you’re on a guided trip and entry is with the turist ticket. The cheapest and most convenient way to visit the ruins is to take a bus to Pisac and get off at Tambomachay, the nearby remains farthest from Cusco, it is at 3,700 meters above sea level, it is the highest. From there, you can walk 8 km and you will back to Cusco, visiting all four remains along the way. Colorfully dressed locals often wait near the sites with their llama herds, hoping to be photographed. The Tip is expected (about US$ 0.50 is usual), and photographers trying for a free shot will get an unfriendly reception. The Travelers want more in depth description of these and other archaeological remains, as well as details of hikes in the area, they are directed to Peter Frost’s excellent book Exploring Cusco. This is generally a safe, popular and rewarding walk, but it’s advisable to go in a group and to return well before nightfall to avoid potential robbery.

Tambomachay: This small ruin, about 300 m from the main road, consists of a beautifully wrought ceremonial stone bath and it is therefore popular called The bath of the Inca.
Puca Pucara, the next ruin, can be seen from the small signaling tower opposite. There is usually a guard at Tambomachay who will punch your Turist ticket for this site and also for Puca Pucara.

Pucapucara: If you return from Tambomachay, you’ll see this small site on the other side of the main road. In some lights the rock looks very red and the name literally means "red fort". It is the least interesting and least visited of the four remains.

Qenqo: The name of this small achaeological rest but fascinating ruin is variously written ‘Qenqo, Qenco, Qenqo or Qenko’ and means zigzag qenko consists of a large limestone rock covered with symbolic carvings, including the zigzagging channels that give the site its name. they have been used for the ritual sacrifice of chicha (beverage of the inkas) or perhaps blood. The tunnels are carved below the boulder and there’s a mysterious cave with altars carved into the rock. Qenko is about 4 km. before Cusco, it is on the left hand side of the road as you descend from Tambomachay.

Sacsayhuaman: This huge remain is the most impressive in the immediate from Cusco area. The name means ‘satisfied falcon’ but local guides cannot resist telling visitors that the long Quechua name is most easily remembered by the compaound word ‘sexy woman’.

The most interesting way to reach the site, is to climb the steep street of Resbalosa, turn right at the top, you go up past the Church of San Cristóbal and continue until you come to a hairpin bend in the road. Here, you’ll find the old Inca road between Cusco and Sacsayhuman. Follow it to the top, the remains are to the left. The climb is short but steep and takes almost an hour from Cusco, so make sure you’re acclimatized before attempting it. (An acclimatized athlete wrote to me complaining that the walk took barely 20 minutes) The old road is also a good descent route when returning from visits to the other nearby ruins. The site is open from dawn till dusk, and the guards are very active in demanding to see your turist ticket. Arriving at dawn will give you the site to yourself tour groups begin arriving in midmorning. However, robberies have been reported early and late in the day, so you should go with friends or a group. Although Sacsayhuman seems huge, what today’s visitor sees is only about 20% of the original structure. Soon after the conquest, the Spaniards pulled down many walls and used the block to build their own houses in Cusco. In the left part of the achaeological complex there is the most impressive of the original rocks, one of which weighs over 300 tons. Most of them form part of the main battlements. The Incas envisioned Cusco in the shape of a Puma, with Sacsayhuman as the head.

The site is essentially three different areas, the most obvious are the three tiers in zigzag walls, the main fortification. The 22 zigzag form the teeth of the puma and they are also an effective defensive mechanism an attacker must expose a flank when attacking any wall. Opposite is the hill called Rodadero, with its retaining walls, curiously polished rocks and a finely carved series of the Inca. Between the zigzag ramparts and Rodadero Hill lies a large, flat parade ground that is used for the colorful tourist spectacle of Inti Raymi, held every June 24th. The site is being actively excavated following the discovery of seven mummies behind the Rodadero Hill.

The magnificent zigzag walls remain are the site’s major attraction, even though much of this fortification has been destroyed. Three tower once stood above these walls. There is only the circle foundations remain, with 22 m. of diameter, this is colled Muyuc Marca (circle tower), Muyuc Marca, with its perfectly fitted stone conduits, was used as a huge water tank for the garrison. Other buildings within the ramparts provided food and shelter for an estimated 5,000 warriors. Most of these structures were torn down by the Spaniards and by later inhabitants of Cusco, and the resulting lack of evidence makes a precise description of Sacsayhuaman ‘s function difficult. Most authorities agree, however, that the site had important religious and military significance. The fort was the site one of the most bitter battles of the Spanish conquest. About 2 œ years after Pizarro’s entry into Cusco, the rebellious Manco Inca recaptured the lightly guarded Sacsayhuaman and used it as a base to lay siege to the conquistadors in Cusco, Manco Inca was very nearly successful in defeating the Spaniards only a desperate last ditch attack by 50 Spanish cavalry led by Juan Pizarro finally succeeded in retaking Sacsayhuaman and putting an end to the rebellion. Although Manco Inca survived and retreated to the fortress of Ollantaytambo most of his forces were killed. The thousand of dead littering the site attracted swarms of carrion eating Andean condors, hence the inclusion of eight condors in Cusco’ s coat of arms.

Southeast of Cusco: The railway and the road to Puno and Titicaca Lake are in the southeast from Cusco. The routes are several sites of interest that can be visited from Cusco in a day.

Tipon: This Inca site consists of some excellent terracing at the head of a small valley and is noted for its fine irrigation system. To get there, take an Urcos bus from Cusco, it is 23 km. from Cusco and a few kilometers before Oropesa. Tipon is 4 km. after of the Choquepata comunity.

Pikillacta and Rumicolca: Pikillacta is the only major pre-Inca remain in the Cusco area, and it can be reached on an Urcos minibus from Cusco. Pikillacta means ‘the place of the flea‘ and was built around 1,100 AD by the Wari culture. The Entry is with the turist ticket. The site is just past the Huacarpay lake on the left hand side of the road, about 32 km. beyond Cusco. It is a large city, all with entrances strategically located on the upper floor. A defensive wall surrounds the city. The stonework here is much cruder than the Incas building. The floors were paved with slabs of white plaster, and the walls were covered with plaster as well. You can still see traces of this.

Over the past few years, there has been some new excavation and research, and some human burials were discovered. There are local guides available, particularly on weekdays. Across the road from Piquillacta and about 1 km. away is the huge Inca gate of Rumicolca, built on Wari foundations. The cruder Wari stonework contrasts with the Inca blocks.

The area’s swampy lakes are also interesting. You can see Indians making roof tiles from the mud that surrounds the lakes.

Paucartambo: This small village lies on the eastern slopes of the Andes about 115km from Cusco along a very narrow, though well maintained, one way dirt road. There are fine views of the Andes and the high Amazon Basin beyond on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and possibly Sunday the one way road is used only for travel from Cusco to Paucartambo, on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, it is used only for travel from Paucartambo to Cusco. Trucks for Paucartambo leave to Cusco early in the morning from near the Urcos bus stop, the journey takes about six hours.

Paucartambo is particularly famous for its very authentic and colorful celebration of the Fiesta de la Virgin del Carmen, held annually on and around July 16, with traditional street dancing processions and wonderful costumes Relatively few tourists have seen this fiesta, simply because it’s been difficult to reach and because once you’re there, you have to camp, find a room in one of two extremely basic small hotels or hope a local will give you floor space. Tourist agencies in Cusco, realizing the potential of this fiesta as a tourist attraction, have started running buses specially for the fiesta. If you go this way, the agency can help arrange a floor or bed to sleep on.
Some Inca ruins are within walking distance of Paucartambo ask for directions in the village.

Tres cruces: About 45 km beyond Paucartambo is the famous jungle view at Tres Cruses about 15 km off the Paucartambo Shintuya road. The sight of the mountains finally dropping away into the Amazon Basin is gorgeous and is made all the more exciting by the sunrise phenomenon that occurs around the time of the winter solstice on June 21.

For some reason , the sunrise here tends to be optically distorted, causing double images, halos and unusual colors, particularly during May, June and July (other months adventure tour agencies advertise sunrise watching trips to Tres Cruces. You can also take the thrice weekly truck service to Paucartambo and ask around for a truck going on to Tres Cruses. Señor Caceres in Paucartambo will reportedly arrange sunrise watching trips.

Andahuaylillas: Is about 40 km beyond Cusco and 7 km before Urcos. This pretty Andean village is famous for its beautifully decorated church (comparable to the best in Cusco) and attractive colonial houses. The Jesuit church dates from the 17th century. It houses many carving and paintings, which the best is considered to be a canvas of the Inmaculate Conception by Esteban Murillo. There are reportedly many gold and silver treasures locked in the church, and the villagers are all involved in taking turns guarding it 24 hours a day. The church hours are erratic, but you can usually find a caretaker to open it for you (a tip is expected).

Raqchi: Or Wiracocha temple, 121 km from Cusco, is one of the most beautiful of Cusco and is not very visited. Was built for the Inca Pachacútec. The remains of this temple are of a monumental nature ending up measuring some walls up to 15 mts of high, diverse constructions, etc.

It is the bigger pre – Hispanic sanctuary. The statue of Wiracocha was adored in the center of the sanctuary.

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