Tourist Tips for Cusco Travel

Cusco is an extremely popular destination for everyone who visits Peru, due to its proximity to both Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. This dramatic influx, however, is causing the city to strain under its own popularity, risking damage to the environment and culture that the city was built on. The short-term impact of an uninformed tourist can have a long-term affect on the area’s charm and hospitality. When staying in Cusco as a visitor, be sure to get out and tour the area, but remember to treat the city, its people, and the culture with respect as you walk around.

The main stop for the tourist should be the Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s town center. The two fundamental attractions in this area are the Cathedral and the Church of the Companion of Jesus. The Cathedral has an enormous collection of art from the Cusco School, portraying the influence of the Europeans on the indigenous culture after the conquest.

Looking down from a hilltop above are the ruins of Saqsaywaman, a large, carved-stone structure with jagged-top walls designed to look like the mouth of a jaguar. Because of the construction and fortifications, visitors and scholars thought for many years that it was the remains of a military fortress. However, recent excavations have divulged that the area was an important spiritual center as well.

Visitors can also see more modern aspects of Cusco as well by visiting the neighborhood called San Blas. The residential area is colonial in nature, with steep cobblestone streets, narrow passageways, and small squares. It is very picturesque and very charming during the daytime. At night, however, the area comes to life with its variety of bars, live music, and entertainment, in sheer contrast to the reserved feeling of the city during the day.

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