Cusco is of course a great gateway to fantastic places such as the Sacred Valley, Sacsayhuamán, Ollantaytambo, and of course Machu Picchu. I'm telling you about the trip to the Sacred Valley in the chapter on Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu has its own chapter.

Cusco itself is an extremely charming place, too, so here is an introduction of some places not to be missed.

The Plaza de Armas with the adjacent Catedral, the Iglesia de Compañia, and just the rows of low-rise colonial houses alone is a jewel were one can spend the entire day observing Peruvian life and ado.

plaza de armas
The 9th ruler over the Inca empire, Pachacútec Yupanqui, overlooking the Plaza de Armas; even the sky chips in to increase the dramatic view.

But also just strolling up and down (literally - and latter is the easier part) Cusco's picturesque streets and alleys is a treat for the eye, the soul and the heart.

Cathedral with a view.

There are far too many churches and monasteries to be listed. Just explore them while you are walking.

convento de santa teresa
Quechua ladies resting in front of the Convento de Santa Teresa. Contrary to other places, here people dress traditionally - not for tourist pictures. 

I adore the baroque 'Escuela de Cusco' style, and some of the masterpieces are exhibited at the Museo de Arte Religioso in the Northern part of town. One bloc West is the Museo Inca presenting a nice collection of gold jewelry and most of all gorgeous ceramic vessels.

Artistic vessels in the shape of foxes.

If you are thinking about doing a language course in Peru, I'd recommend to do it in Cusco - alone to enjoy the array of cultural attractions.

Another lively area is the Plaza San Francisco and the street Santa Clara: much local color - shoeshiners, vendors, school name it! Turn left at the street Tupac Amaru and you find yourself at one of Peru's most vibrant markets, the Mercado San Pedro. The variety of fruits and vegetables, exotic roots and potatoes in many colors, spices and herbs is just overwhelming.

mercado de san pedro
Marcado de San Pedro, one of the most opulent markets in Peru. Colorful flowers are sold in bulks.

mardaco de san pedro
Different dietary habits in Peru: It takes a bit getting used to crunchy grilled guinea pigs. 

To read a post on the mountainous region around Arequipa and the Colca Canyon, Puno and Lake Titicaca as well as Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu, go to this special post.

Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I've visited in Peru? 
Then go to the main post and take your pick!

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