Guide to Cusco

Guide to... Cusco

The Ancient Inca Capital

Overview Where to Stay What to Do Getting There & Around Climate & Weather

RealWorld Guide to Cusco: Living History

Cusco is the ancient Inca Capital, and is absolutely jammed full with history and culture. It feels like every other doorway leads to a colonial mansion and every other wall is original Inca stonework. Most importantly of all, though, Cusco is a living city; although there are fabulous museums to visit and historical sites to explore, the city hasn't been 'mothballed' - the buildings and streets the Incas used are still in use today.

Cusco doesn’t share the grid-layout common to the centre of most Peruvian cities. This is mainly a historical legacy of its heyday as the capital of the Inca Empire – in fact the whole city was originally laid out in the shape of a jaguar – an animal which signified power and strength to the Incas. The Plaza is still the heart of the city as it was under the Incas and has the impressive Cathedral on one side and the smaller Iglesia La Compañia on another. The other two sides have pretty colonial arcades mainly housing shops and restaurants.

Away from the square, you can enjoy the bohemian San Blas quarter, the cobbled pedestrianised streets, or head a little further out of town to explore the fantastic Inca sites just outside the city itself, such as the fortress of Sacsayhuaman which is just a short walk up into the hills.