Almost everyone has heard of the wonder that is Machu Picchu. And rightfully so, as this is the shining point of any journey to South America. But not many know of Cuzco, 50 miles (80 km) southeast of the Inca citadel in the mountains. Thanks to Marnella, the supplier sponsor of this article, Cuzco, as well as Machu Picchu, will be on your travel radar.
Cuzco is located in the southeastern area of Peru. It sits at 11,200 ft. (3,400 m) above sea level, and is surrounded by lush mountains. Visible from the city is the picturesque Urubamba Valley (also known as the sacred valley) of the Andes mountain range. Steps lead from the city and up into areas where gorgeous ruins reside. Within the city, the colorful markets and traditional dress of the locals are truly a sight to behold.
Because Cuzco was the capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th until the 16th century, when the Spanish conquered the Incans, you’ll find cathedrals of ornate design alongside Inca temples, a mixture sure to appease a sense of eccentric aesthetic and amazement. It’s unique position in history has earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition. Meaning that the city has a great importance to knowing the old world.
The center of the city is accessible by foot, but many taxis are available for convenience to get around Cuzco. Other sites, outside the city, can be traveled to by rail or bus. There is a train which connects Machu Picchu to Cuzco, making the trip to that historical wonder quite easy. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could hike the Inca trail which usually takes about four days. Another way to travel locally are the combi, small and colorful Volkswagen vans that you can catch whenever you want—and get out at any time by yelling “Baja!”
Many other sites outside of the city are only a daytrip away. The Maras salt mines, which are tiered pools show the beauty and ingenuity of mountain dwelling peoples. For an alternative to Machu Picchu, four archaeological ruins are located around Cuzco: Sacasayhuaman, Qenko, Pukapukara, and Tambomachay. Some of these are within walking distance, others a short ride in a taxi or combi. There are always guides willing to escort you to these majestic sights.
In the heart of Cuzco is the Plaza de Armas. From here you can walk to a few amazing sites. The Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption of the Virgin is a magnificent example of the mixture that Spaniards brought to the Inca city, seen as a jaguar head on the doors of a Gothic cathedral decorated with crosses as well. The Qorikancha is a classic example the Inca architecture of its temples. The Q’enqo is a labyrinth representing Mother Earth, and has been center for worship and ceremonies.
Cuzco is in a world of its own with juxtaposed architecture of two different peoples. The mountains and valleys sprawling away in the distance. There really isn’t a reason to not visit this magical land. It is guaranteed to be a sight you won’t soon forget. And, thanks to Marnella, you now have the know ‘to go’.
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