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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cuzco  (Spanish)
Qusqu / Qosqo  (Quechua)
Top: Plaza de Armas, Middle left: Qurikancha, Middle right: Sacsayhuamán, Bottom left: Museum, Bottom right: View of the colonial houses, Bottom: Aerial view of Cusco.
Top: Plaza de Armas, Middle left: Qurikancha, Middle right: Sacsayhuamán, Bottom left: Museum, Bottom right: View of the colonial houses, Bottom: Aerial view of Cusco.
Coat of arms of Cusco

Coat of arms
La Ciudad Imperial (The Imperial City)
Districts of Cusco
Districts of Cusco
Cusco is located in Peru
Location within Peru
Coordinates: 13°31′30″S 71°58′20″W / 13.52500°S 71.97222°W / -13.52500; -71.97222
Country Peru
 • MayorVíctor G. Boluarte Medina
 • Total385.1 km2 (148.7 sq mi)
3,399 m (11,152 ft)
 • Total428,450
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,100/km2 (2,900/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC-5 (PET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (PET)
Area code(s)84
UNESCO World Heritage Site
CriteriaCultural: iii, iv
Inscription1983 (7th Session)

Cusco (Spanish: Cuzco [ˈkusko]; Quechua: Qusqu, Qosqo [ˈqʊsqʊ], [ˈqɔsqɔ]), often spelled Cuzco (/ˈksk/), is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region and of the Cusco Province. In 2017, the city had a population of 428,450. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cuzco, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft).

The site was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th-century Spanish conquest. In 1983 Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO with the title "City of Cuzco". It has become a major tourist destination, hosting nearly 2 million visitors a year. The Constitution of Peru designates it as the Historical Capital of Peru.[2]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ 15 Things to do in Cusco Travel Guide
  • ✪ Cusco Peru - The Local Experience
  • ✪ Cusco & Machu Picchu Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia
  • ✪ ¿Quieres conocer Cusco con bajo presupuesto?
  • ✪ The Giant Builders Of Ancient Cusco Peru


If you're planning to walk the Inca Trail or visit Machu Picchu, you'll likely end up spending at least a few days in Cuzco. With it's lively square, quirky museums, artisans markets and traditional performances, this is exactly the type of destination you'll want to linger let's not forget, it's also a good place to adjust to the altitude! The following video will showcase 15 things to do in Cuzco: Cuzco Cathedral is a place you shouldn't miss. The cathedral sits on the site of Viracocha Inca’s palace, and it was also built using blocks from the nearby Inca site of Sacsaywamán. Inside you'll find impressive works of art done in the cuzqueña style. So we've been walking around town and we came across this fine example of Inca architecture. If you take a look at this wall right next to me and you can see how they've like placed the stones so that there isn't even a crack in between each of them. And apparently we haven't tried this but you can try and like stuff a sheet of paper and won't even fit because the stones just sit on top of each perfectly. So, that's pretty cool. So there is a joke that my tour guide me last time I visited Cusco. And basically he said there is a section of wall that was built by the Inka. And that is what you can see behind me. But there is also a section of wall that was built by the Incapables or the Spaniards. And you can see that over here. And it is quite obvious that the stones don't really interlock quite the way the Inca were able to make them. In the evenings, you can go watch a traditional dance performance at Centro Qosqo. (traditional Peruvian folk music) San Blas is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cuzco and it is a great area to explore on foot. The neighborhood is known for its bright blue doors and window shutters, and it has a nice little square with a church and a water fountain. The neighbourhood has some really cool lookout points with great panoramic views of Cuzco, so you'll want to bring your camera. So this afternoon is a bit of a shopping afternoon. And we're at the Qorikancha market. They have lots of really cool crafts and clothes and really great souvenirs. So I did a bit of shopping and I'm going to show you. You sure did. My purchase. I'm pretty happy with it. Look at this. A nice little alpaca sweater. And show us the hat too. It's going to be really warm for when we walk the Inca trail. Show us the hat. And we got some cool hats as well. And you've got to try it on of course. Ah, no. Try it on. But it is going to look silly. You are silly though. But I have a big bun right now. Oh, yeah. We'll zoom in for that. Come on, smile. We're going to be trying some traditional food from Cusco. So we've placed our order and we're waiting for our food to arrive. I'm not entirely sure what to expect because I've never really tried food from this region. We've been eating light meals since we got to Cuzco just because we're trying to deal with the altitude sickness, so yeah, this is our first day that we're ready for our big hearty meal. So until the meal arrives you've got some nice bread rolls in your hand. Yeah, these were freshly baked in the oven and can't wait to try them. We have two different kinds of spicy sauces. They're both called 'aji' sauces, so let's take a look down here and we're going to dunk it in. Actually there is spoons so I can do it a little more civilized I suppose. And I will put a little bit of red and a bit of green. Why not. Let's try that. Mmmm. Is that burning your mouth? Is your mouth on fire at the moment? Yeah, I'm tasting more of the sauce than the bread. But the bread is good. It is melting in my mouth. And it was made in the oven right behind you. Right over there. Right over there. Fancy. So my meal has arrived. I ordered a soup and I'm having something called Chayro Cusqueño and if you have a look down over here it is basically a soup with lamb and Andean greens. I'm not sure what kind of greens those would be. It kind of looks like barley. Um, there might be some Quinoa in there. I don't really know but it is really hearty and you can see it has potatoes and carrots and celery and it looks really really good. So let's try it. Mmmm. Oh. Wow! That's like a nice thick flavorful soup. Um, I can't really tell what these little green leaves are. I wonder if it is parsley or cilantro. Mmmm. But it is really nice. I like that is has a really thick texture because of the potato that breaks apart and you obviously have the grains and the meat. I still haven't tried the meat. Here is my lamb. So yeah, that is really nice. It's the kind of dish you want to order on a really cold day to warm you up. And I like that it is served in a nice cute little bowl that you can warm up your hands. I'm a little bit chilly in case you can't tell. So yeah, good soup. And you ordered something called Pachapapa and we're not entirely sure if that is a name that the restaurant gave to the meal or if that is really what the meal is called in this part of Peru. Yeah, we have no idea we just came to this restaurant, ordered it on a whim and so what I'm thrilled about is that if we take a look at our my plate is that I've got a lot of different stuff going on. I've got a salad, I've got the meat, I've got the tamale, I've got potatoes covered in cheese and I have some kind of stuffed pepper. But being the carnivore that I am I think I will try the meat first. And can you tell us what kind of meat this is? Because it is not beef. Yeah, it is Alpaca meat. Alpaca? Indeed! So pretty special. Dig in. I've never tried Alpaca before. Does it taste like beef? Chicken or fish? It tastes something like of in between chicken and beef. This particular cut is really tender and it has a lot of seasonings on it so it is quite good. It's not as game-y as I thought it would be. Alright, time to try my tamale. And the tamale is made with corn. Mmmm. Yellow corn. That's one of the best tamales I've ever had. I think it's got cheese. Yeah, it's got cheese in there. Mmmm. Oh, my. I have food envy all of a sudden. That is so good. You better hope I share with you. Okay, so my kind husband is willing to share this stuffed pepper which I was told has beef and vegetables and melted cheese on top. So let's take a good chunk since he's in the mood to share. It's not so much I'm in the mood to share. I'm just not sure I can eat it all myself. Mmmmm. That's like ground beef and man that is actually spicy. My tongue is on fire right now. But it is tasty obviously because I'm still chewing. But yeah, nice. I like that you have a very full plate and you get to sample a little bit of everything. So we tried to make this as authentic of a meal in Cusco as we possibly could, so I got my Cusqueña beer. And tomorrow we're going to try and find Cuy. We are now visiting the Pisco Museum which is a bit unusual. It is not exactly a museum in the sense that you walk around and look at Pisco bottles or anything like that. It is more like a bar and you come here to drink Pisco. So we've just placed our order and we're waiting for our drinks to arrive. So they had a special happening at the bar so we've ordered four glasses of Chicanos which are made with pisco, ginger ale and a few drops of bitter. And we were able to choose different flavors. We have strawberry, cinnamon, this is a classic and this one is the one you like. What is that? Licorice. Anise. Anise. Alright. Let's start drinking. Okay, so first up the classic. That is good. Okay. I can taste the alcohol but it is not so strong that it is like burning my throat. It is like a nice summery drink. Very good. Bottoms up for Samuel Jeffery. Yeah, I'm trying one of my favorite ones. Anise. So, I have high expectations. High expectations he says. And unlike your strawberry the Anise is strongly strongly flavorful here. Oh, that means I would not like it. That means I won't be sharing this one at all. And now for a sip of the strawberry. It doesn't have a strong strawberry flavor. I don't know if they've added a syrup or if it is natural fruit. I mean there is one little piece of strawberry in there but I don't think that is flavoring the whole glass. Yeah, a nice girly drink. And the last one for me to try is the cinnamon flavor. Okay, that one is not nearly as strongly as flavored. So, anise for the win. Plaza de Armas is the beating heart of Cuzco. The square is flanked by a Jesuit church and cathedral, and there are also plenty of bars, restaurants, and tour agencies around the perimeter. During the day you'll find locals and tourists hanging out in the square, and if you get lucky, you might just encounter a performance followed by a demonstration like we did. The Inca Museum is one of the main museums in town and it has rooms dedicated to different periods of Inca and Spanish history. You can also see women weaving rugs and tapestries by hand in the central courtyard. So we somehow ended up at the chocolate museum in Cuzco. It is very small but you can learn the history of how chocolate is made and the whole process. And they also have like these little beans. Apparently, that is what cocoa beans look like. Who knew. I'm kind of hoping that they have chocolate that we can sample somewhere but I haven't come across that yet. Fingers crossed. So did you get to try any chocolate? No, free samples but they have a cool place in the store where we can purchase chocolate and they also have a cafe as well. And they have lots of interesting flavors like there is spicy chocolate, cinnamon chocolate, cocoa leaf chocolate. A bit of everything. If you have any chocolate lovers in your family, or as among friends, definitely a good gift to pick up here. Great souvenir. Qurikancha was an Inca temple built to the Sun God, Inti, and it is believed that the walls of this temple were once covered in sheets of gold. If the temple looks like it has various layers of construction, that's because when the Spaniards arrived, they demolished the original temple and used the foundations to build the Church of Santo Domingo on the site. The Church of the Society of Jesus is a historic Jesuit church. It's worth a quick visit if you're in the area. Okay, so time to spew off a few facts about Guinea Pig. Yeah, so the Cuy is something we've been wanting to try for a while now. It is one of the most traditional Peruvian foods you can possibly get. It originates from the Andes. It is a rodent. And apparently the meat is very high in protein and low in cholesterol. So it is healthy for you! Yeah, exactly. Who would have known. This is a perfect meal to have just before our hike to Machu Picchu. Yeah. So another fun fact, because I know you guys really like those is that if you visit Cusco Cathedral, once you go inside you'll see that there is a painting of Jesus and the 12 Disciples enjoying their last supper and guess what they're eating? It's a Guinea Pig and it is lying on its back with its little paws up in the air. So if Guinea Pig is good enough for Jesus and his Disciples we can certainly eat it while we're in Cusco. And they were kind enough to let us go take a look at how it is being cooked and prepared. So let's go walk over and check out the wood fire burning oven. Just over there. Just over there. That is where our Cuy is being made. So our dinner has arrived and I'm trying not to look at the Guinea Pig in the face because it kind of reminds me of my sister's two pet Chinchillas but there it is on the plate. And it comes with a few sides so if you look down here you can see that we have some golden potatoes, some fried yellow potato actually and we have a little salad and we also have a stuffed pepper with cheese melted over top. So yes, I guess the next step is to dig in to our Cuy. So our server has kindly chopped up the Cuy because we didn't really know where to begin and apparently you have to eat this with your hands. Yes, so I'm going to grab just a chunk here. It is time for the first bite. Is that like the back? Oh, the skin. Wow, the meat is quite tender. You know what it tastes a lot like chicken. If I didn't know what I was eating I would have guessed it was chicken. That's good to know. It makes me a feel a little better about taking my first bite. I think I have the back and the hind leg. I'm just taking little nibbles. How does it taste? It's like stringy chicken. How does it taste? It is like stringy chewy chicken. Yeah, like it even looks like chicken. Like the dark meat on a chicken. So you could fool me but I've seen the whole Guinea Pig on the plate. So now I know what I'm having and you just kind of have to get over that because it does make a bit of an impression on you. Especially if you have Chinchillas for pets because they just look so similar. So moving on we're kind of taking a bite of its mid-section here. So what you really notice about when you have Guinea Pig is that the skin is really crispy but the meat inside is quite tender. I actually like it. We're also noticing that there are some organs and bones. Yeah, yeah and strange things inside our Cuy. It is very much cooked as it is and you eat it as it is presented. Yes, that is how you have Cuy in Peru. Except you are using cutlery instead of your hands. You have it all wrong. Oh, right. That's right. So now the verdict. If you saw Cuy on a menu would you order it again? I'm not necessarily sure I would just because it is a bit expensive and I think that if you were to have something like chicken or something else you might get a little bit more meat. But I'm really glad I tried it. It tasted honestly better than I expected and uh yeah if you're Peru definitely try it though at a least once. And your final verdict? Well, it didn't taste bad but that being said I'm not sure I would eat it again. I just don't like seeing the whole animal on my plate. And I know that is kind of silly to say because I do eat meat. I do eat fish. So it doesn't make sense to just eliminate Guinea Pig but yeah not for me. Not for me. Templo de la Merced is another church located one block from Plaza de Armas, and it contains the tomb of two famous conquistadors. So nighttime here in Qusqu and it is time for a drink. What are you sipping on? Just sipping on my Pisco Sour enjoying the nightlife here in Qosqo. Looks like a good drink. And that's a wrap for Cuzco! We hope you enjoyed this video and that it showed you a few of the places you can visit while you're in the city. We recommend spending at least 3 days here, or perhaps a few more if you also want to tour the Sacred Valley. As always, if you have any other suggestions of things to do in Cuzco, feel free to share those in the comments below.


Spelling and etymology

The indigenous name of this city is Qusqu. Although the name was used in Quechua, its origin is found in the Aymara language. The word is derived from the phrase qusqu wanka ('Rock of the owl'), related to the city's foundation myth of the Ayar Siblings. According to this legend, Ayar Awqa (Ayar Auca) acquired wings and flew to the site of the future city; there he was transformed into a rock to mark the possession of the land by his ayllu ("lineage"):[3]

Then Ayar Oche stood up, displayed a pair of large wings, and said he should be the one to stay at Guanacaure as an idol in order to speak with their father the Sun. Then they went up on top of the hill. Now at the site where he was to remain as an idol, Ayar Oche raised up in flight toward the heavens so high that they could not see him. He returned and told Ayar Manco that from then on he was to be named Manco Capac. Ayar Oche came from where the Sun was and the Sun had ordered that Ayar Manco take that name and go to the town that they had seen. After this had been stated by the idol, Ayar Oche turned into a stone, just as he was, with his wings. Later Manco Capac went down with Ayar Auca to their settlement...he liked the place now occupied in this city Cuzco. Manco Capac and his companion, with the help of the four women, made a house. Having done this, Manco Capac and his companion, with the four women, planted some land with maize. It is said that they took the maize from the cave, which this lord Manco Capac named Pacaritambo, which means those of origin because...they came out of that cave.[4]:15–16

The Spanish conquistadors adopted the local name, transliterating it into Spanish phonetics as Cuzco or, less often, Cozco. Cuzco was the standard spelling on official documents and chronicles in colonial times,[5] though Cusco was also used. Cuzco, pronounced as in 16th-century Spanish, seems to have been a close approximation to the Cusco Quechua pronunciation of the name at the time.[6] As both Spanish and Quechuan pronunciation have evolved since then, the Spanish pronunciation of 'z' is no longer close to the Quechuan pronunciation of the consonant represented by 'z' in "Cuzco". In 1976, the city mayor signed an ordinance banning the traditional spelling and ordering the use of a new one, Cusco, in municipality publications. Nineteen years later, on 23 June 1990, the local authorities formalized a new spelling related more closely to Quechan: Qosqo.

There is no international, official spelling of the city's name. In English-language publications both "s"[7][8] and "z"[9][10] can be found. However, the Oxford Dictionary of English recognizes "Cuzco" but not "Cusco";[11] the Merriam-Webster Dictionary has "Cuzco", with "Cusco" only as a "variant";[12] and in scholarly writings "Cuzco" is employed more often than "Cusco".[13] The city's international airport code is still CUZ, reflecting the earlier Spanish spelling.


Killke culture

The Killke people occupied the region from 900 to 1200, prior to the arrival of the Inca in the 13th century. Carbon-14 dating of Saksaywaman, the walled complex outside Cusco, established that Killke constructed the fortress about 1100. The Inca later expanded and occupied the complex in the 13th century. In March 2008, archaeologists discovered the ruins of an ancient temple, roadway and aqueduct system at Saksaywaman.[14] The temple covers some 2,700 square feet (250 square metres) and contains 11 rooms thought to have held idols and mummies,[14] establishing its religious purpose. Together with the results of excavations in 2007, when another temple was found at the edge of the fortress, this indicates a longtime religious as well as military use of the facility.[15]

Inca history

Digital recreation of the original interior of the Qurikancha (The main Temple of the Sun of the Inca Empire) according to the description of Garcilaso de la Vega; and the current Qoricancha's wall remains below the Convento de Santo Domingo
Sacsayhuamán is an Inca ceremonial fortress located two kilometers north from Cusco, is the greatest architectural work done by the Incas during its apogee.
Sacsayhuamán is an Inca ceremonial fortress located two kilometers north from Cusco, is the greatest architectural work done by the Incas during its apogee.

Cusco was long an important center of indigenous people. It was the capital of the Inca Empire (13th century–1532). Many believe that the city was planned as an effigy in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal.[16] How Cusco was specifically built, or how its large stones were quarried and transported to the site remain undetermined. Under the Inca, the city had two sectors: the urin and hanan. Each was divided to encompass two of the four provinces, Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Kuntisuyu (SW) and Qullasuyu (SE). A road led from each quarter to the corresponding quarter of the empire.

Each local leader was required to build a house in the city and live part of the year in Cusco, restricted to the quarter that corresponded to the quarter in which he held territory. After the rule of Pachacuti, when an Inca died, his title went to one son and his property was given to a corporation controlled by his other relatives (split inheritance). Each title holder had to build a new house and add new lands to the empire, in order to own land for his family to keep after his death.

According to Inca legend, the city was rebuilt by Sapa Inca Pachacuti, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cuzco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire of Tawantinsuyu.[17]:66–69 Archaeological evidence, however, points to a slower, more organic growth of the city beginning before Pachacuti. The city was constructed according to a definite plan in which two rivers were channeled around the city. Archaeologists have suggested that this city plan was replicated at other sites.

The city fell to the sphere of Huáscar during the Inca Civil War after the death of Huayna Capac in 1527. It was captured by the generals of Atahualpa in April 1532 in the Battle of Quipaipan. Nineteen months later, Spanish explorers invaded the city (see battle of Cuzco) and gained control because of their arms and horses, employing superior military technology.

After the Spanish invasion

The first image of Cusco in Europe. Pedro Cieza de León. Crónica del Perú, 1553.
The first image of Cusco in Europe. Pedro Cieza de León. Crónica del Perú, 1553.

The first three Spaniards arrived in the city in May 1533, after the Battle of Cajamarca, collecting for Atahualpa's Ransom Room. On 15 November 1533 Francisco Pizarro officially arrived in Cusco. "The capital of the Incas...astonished the Spaniards by the beauty of its edifices, the length and regularity of its streets." The great square was surrounded by several palaces, since "each sovereign built a new palace for himself." "The delicacy of the stone work excelled" that of the Spaniards'. The fortress had three parapets and was composed of "heavy masses of rock." "Through the heart of the capital ran a river...faced with stone." "The most sumptuous edifice in Cuzco...was undoubtedly the great temple dedicated to the Sun...studded with gold plates...surrounded by convents and dormitories for the priests." "The palaces were numerous and the troops lost no time in plundering them of their contents, as well as despoiling the religious edifices," including the royal mummies in the Coricancha.[18]:186–187, 192–193, 216–219

Pizarro ceremoniously gave Manco Inca the Incan fringe as the new Peruvian leader.[18]:221 Pizarro encouraged some of his men to stay and settle in the city, giving out repartimientos to do so.[19]:46 Alcaldes were established and regidores on 24 March 1534, which included the brothers Gonzalo Pizarro and Juan Pizarro. Pizarro left a garrison of 90 men and then departed for Jauja with Manco Inca.[18]:222, 227

Cusco and its city walls in 1565.
Cusco and its city walls in 1565.
An Inca wall along Hatunrumiyoc, Cusco
An Inca wall along Hatunrumiyoc, Cusco

Pizarro renamed it the "Very noble and great city of Cuzco". Buildings constructed after the Spanish invasion have a mixture of Spanish influence with Inca indigenous architecture, including the Santa Clara and San Blas neighborhoods. The Spanish destroyed many Inca buildings, temples and palaces. They used the remaining walls as bases for the construction of a new city.

Father Vincente de Valverde became the Bishop of Cusco and built his cathedral facing the plaza. He placed a St. Dominic monastery on the ruins of the House of the Sun and a nunnery where the House of the Virgins of the Sun was stood.[18]:222

The city was retaken from the Spanish during the Siege of Cuzco of 1536 by Manco Inca Yupanqui, a leader of the Sapa Inca. Although the siege lasted 10 months, it was ultimately unsuccessful. Manco's forces were able to reclaim the city for only a few days. He eventually retreated to Vilcabamba, the capital of the newly established small Neo-Inca State, which lasted for another 36 years but he was never able to return to Cuzco. Throughout the conflict and years of the Spanish colonization of the Americas, many Incas died of smallpox.

Cusco stands on layers of cultures, with the Tawantinsuyu (old Inca Empire) built on Killke structures and the Spanish replacing indigenous temples with Catholic churches and palaces with mansions for the invaders.

Cusco was the center for the Spanish colonization and spread of Christianity in the Andean world. It became very prosperous thanks to agriculture, cattle raising and mining, as well as its trade with Spain. The Spanish colonists constructed many churches and convents, as well as a cathedral, university and Archbishopric.

Old streets in the city center
Old streets in the city center
A view of the Colonial Balconies of Cusco
A view of the Colonial Balconies of Cusco

Republican era

After Peru declared its independence in 1821, Cusco maintained its importance within Peru's administrative structure. Upon independence, the government created the Department of Cuzco, maintaining authority over territory extending to the Brazilian border. Cusco was made capital of the department; subsequently it became the most important city in the south-eastern Andean region.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the city's urban sprawl spread to the neighboring districts of Santiago and Wanchaq.

In 1911, explorer Hiram Bingham used the city as a base for the expedition in which he rediscovered the ruins of Machu Picchu.


A major earthquake on 21 May 1950 caused the destruction of more than one third of the city's structures. The Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, which were built on top of the impressive Qurikancha (Temple of the Sun), were among the affected colonial era buildings. Inca architecture withstood the earthquake. Many of the old Inca walls were at first thought to have been lost after the earthquake, but the granite retaining walls of the Qurikancha were exposed, as well as those of other ancient structures throughout the city. Restoration work at the Santo Domingo complex exposed the Inca masonry formerly obscured by the superstructure without compromising the integrity of the colonial heritage.[20] Many of the buildings damaged in 1950 had been impacted by an earthquake only nine years previously.[21]

Since the 1990s, tourism has increased. Currently, Cusco is the most important tourist destination in Peru. Under the administration of mayor Daniel Estrada Pérez, a staunch supporter of the Academia Mayor de la Lengua Quechua, between 1983 and 1995 the Quechua name Qosqo was officially adopted for the city.


Geography and climate

Colonial houses
Colonial houses

Cusco extends throughout the Huatanay (or Watanay) river valley. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cusco, its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft). To its north is the Vilcabamba mountain range with 4,000–6,000-metre-high (13,000–20,000-foot) mountains. The highest peak is Salcantay (6,271 metres or 20,574 feet) about 60 kilometres (37 miles) northwest of Cusco.[23]

Cusco has a subtropical highland climate (Köppen Cwb). It is generally dry and temperate, with two defined seasons. Winter occurs between April to September, with abundant sunshine and occasional nighttime freezes; July is the coolest month with an average of 9.7 °C (49.5 °F). Summer occurs between October and March, when the weather turns cloudy and wet; November is the warmest month which averages 13.3 °C (55.9 °F). Although frost and hail are common, the last reported snowfall was in June 1911. Temperatures usually range from 0.2 to 20.9 °C (32.4 to 69.6 °F), but the all-time temperature range is between −8.9 and 30 °C (16.0 and 86.0 °F). Sunshine hours peak in July; the equivalent of January in the Northern Hemisphere. In contrast, February, the equivalent of August in the Northern Hemisphere, has the least amount of sunshine.

Cusco was found in 2006 to be the spot on Earth with the highest average ultraviolet light level.[24]

Climate data for Cusco (Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport) 1961–1990, extremes 1931–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 27.8
Average high °C (°F) 18.8
Daily mean °C (°F) 12.9
Average low °C (°F) 6.6
Record low °C (°F) 0.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 160.0
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 19 15 13 9 2 1 1 2 5 9 13 16 106
Average relative humidity (%) 66 67 66 63 59 55 54 54 56 56 58 62 60
Mean monthly sunshine hours 143 121 170 210 239 228 257 236 195 198 195 158 2,350
Source #1: NOAA,[25] Meteo Climat (record highs and lows)[26]
Source #2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (mean temperatures 1961–1990, precipitation days 1970–1990 and humidity 1954–1993)[27] Danish Meteorological Institute (sun 1931–1960)[28]


Tourism has been the backbone to the economy starting in the early 2000s, bringing in more than 1.2 million tourists per year.[29] In 2002, the income Cusco received from tourism was $837 million USD. In 2009, that number increased to $2.47 billion USD.[citation needed]

Main sights

The indigenous Killke culture built the walled complex of Sacsayhuamán about 1100. The Killke built a major temple near Saksaywaman, as well as an aqueduct (Pukyus) and roadway connecting prehistoric structures. Saksaywaman was expanded by the Inca.

The Spanish explorer Pizarro sacked much of the Inca city in 1535. Remains of the palace of the Incas, Qurikancha (the Temple of the Sun) and the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun still stand. Inca buildings and foundations in some cases proved to be stronger than the foundations built in present-day Peru. Among the most noteworthy Spanish colonial buildings of the city is the Cathedral of Santo Domingo, Cusco.

The major nearby Inca sites are Pachacuti's presumed winter home, Machu Picchu, which can be reached on foot by the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or by train; and the "fortress" at Ollantaytambo.

Less-visited ruins include: Incahuasi, the highest of all Inca sites at 3,980 m (13,060 ft);[30] Vilcabamba, the capital of the Inca after the capture of Cusco; the sculpture garden at Ñusta Hisp'ana (aka Chuqip'allta, Yuraq Rumi); Tipón with working water channels in wide terraces; as well as Willkaraqay, Patallaqta, Chuqik'iraw, Moray, Vitos and many others.

The surrounding area, located in the Watanay Valley, is strong in gold mining and agriculture, including corn, barley, quinoa, tea and coffee.

Arco del Barrio de Santa Ana
Arco del Barrio de Santa Ana

Cusco's main stadium Estadio Garcilaso de la Vega was one of seven stadiums used when Peru hosted South America's continental soccer championship, the Copa América, in 2004. The stadium is home to one of the country's most successful soccer clubs, Cienciano.

The city is served by Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport.

Architectural heritage

Arco de Santa Clara
Arco de Santa Clara
Colonial civil building
Colonial civil building

Because of its antiquity and importance, the city center retains many buildings, plazas, streets and churches from colonial times, and even some pre-Columbian structures, which led to its declaration as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. Among the main sights of the city are:

Barrio de San Blas

This neighborhood houses artisans, workshops and craft shops. It is one of the most picturesque sites in the city. Its streets are steep and narrow with old houses built by the Spanish over important Inca foundations. It has an attractive square and the oldest parish church in Cusco, built in 1563, which has a carved wooden pulpit considered the epitome of Colonial era woodwork in Cusco.

The Quechua name of this neighborhood is Tuq'ukachi, which means the opening of the salt.

Hatun Rumiyuq

This street is the most visited by tourists. On the street Hatun Rumiyoq ("the one with the big stone") was the palace of Inca Roca, which was converted to the Archbishop's residence.

Along this street that runs from the Plaza de Armas to the Barrio de San Blas, one can see the Stone of Twelve Angles, which is viewed as a marvel of ancient stonework and has become emblematic of the city's history.

View of the bell tower of the Iglesia y Convento de La Merced.
View of the bell tower of the Iglesia y Convento de La Merced.

Convento e Iglesia de la Merced

Its foundation dates from 1536. The first complex was destroyed by the earthquake of 1650. Its rebuilding was completed in 1675.

Its cloisters of Baroque Renaissance style, choir stalls, colonial paintings and wood carvings are highlights, now a popular museum.

Also on view is an elaborate monstrance made of gold and gemstones that weighs 22 kg (49 lb) and is 130 cm (51.18 in) in height.


The first cathedral built in Cusco is the Iglesia del Triunfo, built in 1539 on the foundations of the Palace of Viracocha Inca. Today, this church is an auxiliary chapel of the Cathedral.

The main basilica cathedral of the city was built between 1560 and 1664. The main material used was stone, which was extracted from nearby quarries, although some blocks of red granite were taken from the fortress of Saksaywaman.

This great cathedral presents late-Gothic, Baroque and plateresque interiors and has one of the most outstanding examples of colonial goldwork. Its carved wooden altars are also important.

The city developed a distinctive style of painting known as the "Cuzco School" and the cathedral houses a major collection of local artists of the time. The cathedral is known for a Cusco School painting of the Last Supper depicting Jesus and the twelve apostles feasting on guinea pig, a traditional Andean delicacy.

The cathedral is the seat of the Archdiocese of Cuzco.

Plaza de Armas de Cusco

Plaza de Armas de Cusco
Plaza de Armas de Cusco, Peru, at night

Known as the "Square of the warrior" in the Inca era, this plaza has been the scene of several important events, such as the proclamation by Francisco Pizarro in the conquest of Cuzco.

Similarly, the Plaza de Armas was the scene of the death of Túpac Amaru II, considered the indigenous leader of the resistance.

The Spanish built stone arcades around the plaza which endure to this day. The main cathedral and the Church of La Compañía both open directly onto the plaza.

Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús

This church (Church of the Society of Jesus), whose construction was initiated by the Jesuits in 1576 on the foundations of the Amarucancha or the palace of the Inca ruler Wayna Qhapaq, is considered one of the best examples of colonial baroque style in the Americas.

Its façade is carved in stone and its main altar is made of carved wood covered with gold leaf. It was built over an underground chapel and has a valuable collection of colonial paintings of the Cusco School.

Qurikancha and Convent of Santo Domingo

Qurikancha, Convento de Santo Domingo and Intipanpa
Qurikancha, Convento de Santo Domingo and Intipanpa

The Qurikancha ("golden place") was the most important sanctuary dedicated to the Sun God (Inti) at the time of the Inca Empire. According to ancient chronicles written by Garcilaso de la Vega (chronicler), Qurikancha was said to have featured a large solid golden disc that was studded with precious stones and represented the Inca Sun God – Inti. Spanish chroniclers describe the Sacred Garden in front of the temple as a garden of golden plants with leaves of beaten gold, stems of silver, solid gold corn-cobs and 20 life-size llamas and their herders all in solid gold.[31]

The temple was destroyed by its Spanish invaders who, as they plundered, were determined to rid the city of its wealth, idolaters and shrines. Nowadays, only a curved outer wall and partial ruins of the inner temple remain at the site.

With this structure as a foundation, colonists built the Convent of Santo Domingo (St. Dominic) in the Renaissance style. The building, with one baroque tower, exceeds the height of many other buildings in this city.

Inside is a large collection of paintings from the Cuzco School.


Cusco has the following important museums:[32]

There are also some museums located at churches.


Historical population
1500300000[35][36][better source needed]—    

The city had a population of about 434,114 people in 2013 and 434,654 people in 2015 according to INEI.

Mercedarian Friars in the Corpus Christ procession at the Main Square of Cusco. 17th century. Cusco Colonial Painting School. Currently located at the Archbishop's Palace of Cusco
Mercedarian Friars in the Corpus Christ procession at the Main Square of Cusco. 17th century. Cusco Colonial Painting School. Currently located at the Archbishop's Palace of Cusco
Financial Center of the City, Av. de la Cultura, Cusco
Financial Center of the City, Av. de la Cultura, Cusco
Population by district
City district Area
2007 census (hab)
Cuzco 116.22 108,798* 28,476 936.1 3,399
San Jerónimo 103.34 28,856* 8,942 279.2 3,244
San Sebastián 89.44 85,472* 18,109 955.6 3,244
Santiago 69.72 66,277* 21,168 950.6 3,400
Wanchaq 6.38 54,524* 14,690 8,546.1 3,366
Total 385.1 358,052* 91,385 929.76
*Census data conducted by INEI[37]


As capital to the Inca Empire, Cusco was an important agricultural region. It was a natural reserve for thousands of native Peruvian species, including around 3,000 varieties of potato cultivated by the people.[38] Fusion and neo-Andean restaurants developed in Cusco, in which the cuisine is prepared with modern techniques and incorporates a blend of traditional Andean and international ingredients.[39]


International relations

Twin towns and sister cities

Cusco is twinned with:[40]


In modern culture

See also


  1. ^ Perú: Población estimada al 30 de junio y tasa de crecimiento de las ciudades capitales, por departamento, 2011 y 2015. Perú: Estimaciónes y proyecciones de población total por sexo de las principales ciudades, 2012–2015 (Report). Instituto Nacional de Estadística e Informática. March 2012. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
  2. ^ "Constitución del Perъ de 1993". Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  3. ^ Cerrón-Palomino, Rodolfo (2007). "Cuzco: La piedra donde se posó la lechuza. Historia de un nombre". Andina. Lima. 44: 143–174. ISSN 0259-9600.
  4. ^ Betanzos, J., 1996, Narrative of the Incas, Austin: University of Texas Press, ISBN 978-0292755598
  5. ^ Carrión Ordóñez, Enrique (1990). "Cuzco, con Z". Histórica. Lima. XVII: 267–270.
  6. ^ Cerrón-, Rodolfo. "Cuzco: la piedra donde se posó la lechuza. Historia de un nombre". Lexis. Año 2006, número XXX, volumen 1, pp. 151–52. Consulta: 24 de mayo de 2011. <>
  7. ^ "Cusco – Cusco and around Guide".
  8. ^ "The World Factbook".
  9. ^ "City of Cuzco – UNESCO World Heritage Centre". 21 August 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  10. ^ "Cuzco Travel Information and Travel Guide – Peru". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  11. ^ Oxford Dictionary of English, 2nd ed, revised, 2009, Oxford University Press, eBook edition, accessed 30 August 2017.
  12. ^ Merriam-Webster Online|[1], accessed 30 August 2017.
  13. ^ JSTOR (cuzco) AND la:(eng OR en) has 5,671 articles vs. only 1,124 articles for (cusco) AND la:(eng OR en); JSTOR accessed 30 August 2017.
  14. ^ a b Kelly Hearn, "Ancient Temple Discovered Among Inca Ruins", National Geographic News, 31 March 2008, accessed 12 January 2010
  15. ^ "News".<!. Retrieved 22 July 2009.
  16. ^ "The history of Cusco".<!. Retrieved 25 July 2009.
  17. ^ de Gamboa, P.S., 2015, History of the Incas, Lexington, ISBN 9781463688653
  18. ^ a b c d Prescott, W.H., 2011, The History of the Conquest of Peru, Publishing, ISBN 9781420941142
  19. ^ Pizzaro, P., 1571, Relation of the Discovery and Conquest of the Kingdoms of Peru, Vol. 1–2, New York: Cortes Society,, ISBN 9781235937859
  20. ^ "Koricancha Temple and Santo Domingo Convent – Cusco, Peru". Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  21. ^ Erickson; et al. "The Cusco, Peru, Earthquake of May 21, 1950". Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America. p. 97. Retrieved 15 September 2011.
  22. ^ "Opera House snubbed as new Wonders unveiled". 8 July 2007.
  23. ^ "Map Of The Andes".
  24. ^ Liley, J. Ben and McKenzie, Richard L. (April 2006) "Where on Earth has the highest UV?" UV Radiation and its Effects: an update NIWA Science, Hamilton, NZ;
  25. ^ "Cusco Climate Normals 1961–1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  26. ^ "Station Alejandro Velasco" (in French). Météo Climat. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  27. ^ "Klimatafel von Cuzco, Prov. Cuzco / Peru" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961–1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  28. ^ Cappelen, John; Jensen, Jens. "Peru – Cuzco" (PDF). Climate Data for Selected Stations (1931–1960) (in Danish). Danish Meteorological Institute. p. 209. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 April 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
  29. ^ PERU: New cusco airport will help boost tourism. (2010, Aug 10). Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service Retrieved from
  30. ^ "Photo map of the sites in Upper Puncuyoc – Inca Wasi, cave group, reflection pond and abandoned pegs". Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  31. ^ "The Inca City of Cusco: A Fascinating Look at the Most Important City in the Inca Empire". 5 July 2013. Archived from the original on 10 July 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  32. ^ Museums in Cusco
  33. ^ Museum of Sacred, Magical and Medicinal Plants, Cusco
  34. ^ Cacao and Chocolate Museum Archived 21 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Cusco
  35. ^ "Political Division, Population, Language, Religion, Orography – Cusco – Peru – Cuzco". Retrieved 2015-06-20.
  36. ^ "Cusco Culture – ISA". Retrieved 2015-06-20.
  37. ^ Censo 2005 INEI Archived 23 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ "Cusco, Peru Bans GM Products To Protect Diversity Of Native Potatoes". Retrieved 21 Feb 2012.
  39. ^ "Restaurantes". 20 November 2007. Archived from the original on 20 November 2007.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  40. ^ "Ciudades Hermanas (Sister Cities)" (in Spanish). Municipalidad del Cusco. Archived from the original on 3 August 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  41. ^ "::Bethlehem Municipality::". Archived from the original on 24 July 2010. Retrieved 10 October 2009.
  42. ^ "Kraków – Miasta Partnerskie" [Kraków -Partnership Cities]. Miejska Platforma Internetowa Magiczny Kraków (in Polish). Archived from the original on 2 July 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.

External links

Cusco travel guide from Wikivoyage

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