Because of its antiquity and importance, the city center retains many buildings, plazas, streets and churches of pre-Columbian times and colonial buildings, which led to his being declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.
Plaza de Armas
Known as the “Square of the warrior” in the Inca era, this plaza has been the scene of several important events in the history of this city, such as the proclamation by Francisco Pizarro in the conquest of Cuzco.
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.
The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, also known as Cusco Cathedral, is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cusco. The cathedral is located on the Plaza de Armas. Building was completed in 1654, almost a hundred years after construction began.
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
Barrio de San Blas
This neighborhood housing artisans, workshops and craft shops, 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.
Iglesia de San Blas
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.
Qurikancha (Quechua quri gold, kancha enclosure, enclosed place, yard, a frame, or wall that encloses, hispanicized spelling Coricancha), originally named Inti Kancha (Quechua inti sun) or Inti Wasi (Quechua for “sun house”),was the most important temple in the Inca Empire, dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God. It was one of the most revered temples of the capital city of Cusco.
The walls and floors were once covered in sheets of solid gold, and its adjacent courtyard was filled with golden statues. Spanish reports tell of its opulence that was “fabulous beyond belief”. When the Spanish required the Inca to raise a ransom in gold for the life of the leader Atahualpa, most of the gold was collected from Qurikancha.
The Spanish colonists built the Church of Santo Domingo on the site, demolishing the temple and using its foundations for the cathedral. Construction took most of a century. This is one of numerous sites where the Spanish incorporated Inca stonework into the structure of a colonial building.
Major earthquakes severely damaged the church, but the Inca stone walls, built out of huge, tightly-interlocking blocks of stone, still stand due to their sophisticated stone masonry. Nearby is an underground archaeological museum, which contains numerous interesting pieces, including mummies, textiles, and sacred idols from the site. The site now also includes the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo.
Saksaywaman, Saqsaywaman, Sasawaman, Saksawaman, Sasaywaman or Saksaq Waman (Quechua waman falcon or variable hawk, hispanicized spellings Sacsayhuamán, Sacsayhuaman, Sacsahuaman, Saxahuaman and others) is a walled complex on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco, Peru, the former capital of the Inca Empire. Like many Inca constructions, the complex is made of large polished dry stone walls, with boulders carefully cut to fit together tightly without mortar.
Because of its location high above Cusco and its immense terrace walls, this area of Saksaywaman is frequently referred to as a fortress
Qenco is a sanctuary dedicated to the adoration of animals, and consists of ruins formed by a rocky site with stairs in zigzag, and a main building similar to a circular amphitheatre where 19 window sills are located as a way of seats.
Puca Pucara (Quechua for red fortress) is an Inca archaeological site located again on the peak of a hill and is thought to be a military position and an administrative centre.
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