CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDMain Square, CuscoDuring the Inca Empire, the square was calledHucaypata, a Quechua word meaning “place oftears” or “meeting place”. It was an importantceremonial spot where the Inti Raymi or Festival ofthe Sun was celebrated every year. It is also the placewhere Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest ofCusco. After the Spanish arrived, the plaza changed.They erected stone arches and built the structuresthat surround it today.Barrio de San BlasIt is one of the most picturesque areas in all Cusco. Itis called Tóqokachi or Salt Hole and is characterizedby narrow, steep streets and beautiful Colonialhouses. It also known as the Artisans Neighborhood.In San Blas many families accommodate guests intheir homes.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDCathedral of CuscoThe building went through two constructions stages:first, the chapel of the Triumph was built on top ofwhat used to be the temple Suntar Wasi (House ofGod); later, the cathedral itself was built over theremains of the palace of Inca Wiracocha. ARenaissance building in its majority, the interiordecoration is rich in cedar and elder woodcarving.The choir and the pulpit stand out for their beauty.An important collection of paintings from CuscoSchool and silver wrought pieces are also kept there.Church of San BlasFounded in 1560 during the Colonial period, itfeatures a masterpiece in its wood carved Baroquepulpit, attributed to the Indigenous, Diego QuispeTito.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDChurch and Convent of Santo DomingoThe Koricancha was one of the most impressivebuildings of the Inca Cusco according to thehistorians: the glowing gilding of the interior wallsilluminates what used to be the main templededicated to the worship of the Sun God. TheSpanish built the church and Dominican convent ontop of the original structure around 1534 but theycollapsed during the earthquake of 1650 and wererebuilt around 1681. The convent possesses an artgallery of valuable seventeenth and eighteenthcentury canvasses.Palacio del Almirante (Admiral´s Palace)It is an old mansión, wich today is the site of the IncaMuseum. It contains an important archeologicalcollection that includes ceramic, fine metal, andtextile pieces as well as mummies.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDPalacio Arzobispal y Piedra de los Doce ÁngulosThis Vice –royal building with Arabic influence was raised onthe foundations of the palace of Inca Roca. Presently, it isthe main centre of the Museum of Religious Art. On CalleHatunrumiyoc, you can see and old wall that was part ofInca in terms of polished and perfectly placed stones. Themost remarkable part is “ Twelve Angle Sione”, famous forthe perfect work and assembling of its angels.Born on April 12, 1539, Inca Garcilazo de la Vega was theson of the Spanish Captain Garcilaso de la Vega y Vargas andthe Cusco princess, Chimpu Ocllo He is the author of twoworks, “Comentarios Reales” (Royal Commentaries) and “LaFlorida Inca” (The Inca Flower), both motivated by thenecessity to recover the history of the Inca Empire. Thehouse is the current location of the Regional HistoricalMuseum that contains a collection of cnvass from the Cuscoschool.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDLarco Museum of Pre – Colombian ArtThe mansion that shelters the museum was KanchaInca in 1450, the house of the Conquistador AlonsoDíaz in 1580, the home of Count de la Cabrera in1850, and was completely restored to become theMuseum of Pre – Colombian Art in June 2003. In Its11 rooms, 450 works of art are displayed that datefrom 1250 B.C to 1532 A.D. These were selectedfrom a group of 45.000 objects belonging to thecollection of the Larco Archeological Museum inLima.Qenko Archeological complexThe Quenko or “labyrinth” might date from around1500 A.D. It is considered a holy place whereceremonies honoring the sun, moon, and the starsused to take place.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDAwanakancha South American Camelids Theme ParkCamelids such as llamas, vicuñas, and alpacas are to beseen there in their native environment. They alsodemonstrate how to make clothing from the wool fibersof the animals. In addition, you can see native flowersand some Inca – built agricultural terraces.Pukapukara Archeological ComplexThe complex contains several rooms, inner plazas,aqueducts, vantage points, and pathways. It mightserved as a tambo or rest and lodging area.According to the tale, each time the Inca was able tog to Tambomachay, he would be accompanied by alarge cortege, which stayed at Pukapukara. It is alsocalled a fort because of its fortified-city appearance.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDSacsayhuaman Archeological ComplexThe area contains thirty-three archeological sites.The most famous is Fort Sacsayhuaman. It might wellhave been religious structure, but for its location andstyle, the Spanish and historians believe it was amilitary construction. The most important temple inHanan Qosqo or Upper Cusco might have beenlocated there, dedicated to Andean cosmology andto the worship of the Inti (sun), the Quilla (moon),Chaska (stars),Illapa (ray), and other divinities. It isdescribed as massive for the size of some of itsstones. Which weigh between 90 and 120 tons. Thisis also the stage of the Iti Raymi or Festival of the Sunevery 24th June.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDInca Trail to Machu PicchuIt was part of the Inca highway system (Qhapaq Ñan)and is one of the most important South Americantrekking routes. Along the hike, you can see severalgorges and streams that originate from glaciers.There are twelve archeological monuments along thetrail, such as Qoriwacharachina, Patallaqta,Runkuraqay, , Intipunku, Intipata and Wiñayhuayna.The starting point of the trip varies according to thetrail you wish to take. The most popular route startsaround kilometer marker 82 of the railroad Cusco –Machu Picchu (40 km / 25 miles from the citadelitself). Another possibility, shorter in time, is calledthe Sacred Trail and begins at kilometer marker 104of the railroad.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDProvince of CanvasQ´eswachaka Hanging BridgeThis 33-kilometer (21-mile) long and 1-meter (3-feet)wide bridge is perfect spot to see the Apurimac riverCanyon in all its splendor. Every second Sunday ofJune, about 1000 local people come to weave it withbraided straw of ichu grass and chanchacomo, aprocess that takes three days. The task, whichpredates the Incas uses traditional techniques and isexecuted in the framework of ritual ceremonies anddances performed by the family members of thearea. The bridgework finishes on the fourth daygiving way to singing and dancing.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDProvince of CalcaVillage of PisacPisac is well known for its craft market, but there arealso Inca archeological remnants: an irrigationsystem, an astronomical observatory, a solar clockand calendar (Intiwatana), and agricultural terraces.City of CalcaYou find the Huchu´y Qosqo or Little Cuscoarcheological vestiges there, as well as theMachacancha medicinal hot springs (sulfurouswaters), and Minasmoqo (cold, sparkling waters).The snow capped mountains Pitsurisay andSawarisay intensify the beauty of the landscape.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDProvince of La ConvenciónQuillabambaAt 1050 masl / 3445 fasl, the capital of the provinceis an important trade centre in the Lares and LaConvencion Valleys. The main economic activities arethe growing of coca leaves, coffee, cacao, and fruit.The city was founded on July 25, 1857. The valleymicroclimate makes it an ideal location for sports.Chokequirao Archeological Complex.Choquequirao (chuki k´iraw or Cradle of Gold) couldbe one of the lost Inca citadels in the VilcabambaValley where the Incas took refuge from the Spanishin 1536. The complex consists of nine archeologicalstone groups. There are hundreds of agriculturalterraces, rooms, and irrigation systems. The buildingsare constructed around a central promenade or mainsquare.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDProvince of QuispicanchisPikillactaThis is a pre-Inca city wich cultural height wasreached between 800 A.D and 1100 A.D. in theperiod corresponding to the Huari regionalconfederation. It constituted the doorway to theSacred City of the Incas. It features long, straightstreets and blocks full of buildings. It is surroundedby walls and there are spherical buildings in thewestern part. The flagstone and mud mortared wallsare high and their foundation taper as they rise.Temple of AndahuaylillasKnown as the Sistine Chapel of the Americas, it wasbuilt in 158o and features a simple façade contrastedby Baroque interior with its gilded altars, walls,paintings and polychromatic ceilings
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDTipon Archeological ComplexAccording to legends, Tipon is one of the royal gardens thatWiracocha ordered to be built. It is made up of twelveterraces flanked by perfectly polished stonewalls andenormous agricultural terraces, canals, and decorativewaterfalls that, along with the native flowers of the area,offers the visitor a stunning vision. The site is composed ofdifferent sectors: Tipon itself, Intiwatana, Pukutuyuj andPucará, Cruz Moqo, The cemetery of Pitopujio, HatunWayq´o, among others.Province of PaucartamboTres CrucesTres Cruces is a natural lookout located on the edge of theManu Biosphere Reserve. This place is famous for the so-called “white ray” phenomenon that occurs when the sunrises over the horizon during the winter solstice (June, July).The light shines through the humid atmosphere and isdistorted as if going through a prism. The effect causesthree suns appear, one of them seems to be jumping fromone side to the other.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDProvince of UrubambaCity of UrubambaIt is located on the heart of the Sacred Valley. Beforethe Incas, it was a very important agricultural center.Today the economy is based on farming and tourism,and the city itself is known for being one of thefriendliest in the valley. Good tourist services areavailable in Urubamba.Village of ChincherosA must see is a Colonial church where beautifulpaintings of the Cusco School are kept. Every Sunday,the farmers and businessmen gather to exchangetheir products in a fair where they still barter. Thereare important archeological vestiges in the area.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDMaras Salt MinesAlso called Salinas de Maras , these salt-mines have been used sincethe Tahuantinsuyo. The people channel the salt water that bubblesto the surface from a spring called Qoripujio towards men-madewells. From the exposure to the sun, the water evaporates and thesalt remains on the surface to be transported later to the market tobe sold. The view of this complex of nearly 3000 wells is spectacular.The local people happily demonstrate the ancient techniques tovisitors, even allowing them to participate in them.Moray Archeological ComplexThere are slightly elliptical agricultural terraces, that the people callmuyus. The largest structure is 45 meters / 148 feet deep, and theaverage height of each terrace is 2 meters / 3 feet. Many think thatthis place was an important agricultural experimentation center forthe Incas. Through the use of concentric terraces and because thetemperature is different in each of their level, all the ecological tiersfound in the confines of the Tahuantinsuyo Empire would have beenreproduced in this complex.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDMachu Picchu Historic SanctuaryMachu Picchu is an impressive Inca citadel placed on the side of amountain. Its Quechau name means “Old Mountain”, but it is alsoknown as “The Lost City of the Incas” since it remained hidden fromthe West until discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. It was built inthe fifteenth century, and is attributed to the Inca Pachacutec. Thearcheological complex is divided into two zones that are containedwithin approximately twenty hectares. On the sides of themountain, you can see up four meters high (13 feet) agriculturalterraces. Several plazas and buildings, the most important being theTemple of the Sun, The Intihuatana or solar clock and calendar, theTemple of the Tree Windows, the Main Temple and The CondorSector, make up the urban sector. There is also an impressivemonolith of carved stone, three meters high (10 feet) and sevenmeters wide (23 feet) at the base, named the Sacred Stone. In orderto build Machu Picchu, the Incas had to use blocks of stone broughtfrom long distances. The finish of the walls features different qualitylevels and techniques. One highest quality walls in the central oneof the Main Temple where the stones fit together perfectly.The Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary is not only a pricelessarcheological site, it is also associated with rich animal and plant life.In 1983, UNESCO placed it on the World Cultural and NaturalHeritage Lists.
CUSCO: THE BELLY BUTTON OF THE WORLDOllantaytambo Archeological ComplexThe Incas built it as a fort that included a temple,agricultural terraces, and an urban area. There aretwon distinct sectors: Araqama Ayllu, the religiousand worship part, and Qosqo Ayllu, the residentialarea. Ollantaytambo was an important administrativecenter with probable military functions if oneconsiders the walls and towers. There are also tracesof ancient roads and aqueducts. The town ofOllantaytambo is called a Living Inca Town since theinhabitants maintain very old practices and customs.From Ollantaytambo, you can visit the villa of Willoc,where the Quechua-speaking inhabitants distinguishthemselves from the rest of the region by wearingred clothing that identifies them as members of aunique family.
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