The Department of Cusco presents an abrupt geographical relief, combining fertile inter-Andean valleys with imposing mountains, to then descend towards the jungle´s edge, where the temperature rises and the landscape transforms itself into dense and varied vegetation.
Cusco was the capital city of the Tahuantinsuyu which was the Quechua name of the Incan State and territory, the meaning of which corresponds to The Four Regions of the Sun, and indeed, the Incas´ vast “Empire” was divided into four regions, the center of which was the beautiful, very rich, sacred and venerated city of Qosqo, in Quechua.
In 1983, Cusco, the Incan territory´s ancient capital city was declared as Humanity´s Cultural Patrimony, by the UNESCO, and without a doubt, it is one of the country´s most important destinations. As they stroll around its Historical Center´s stone-paved streets, its visitors discover colonial buildings with Incan construction bases, such as the Koricancha and Inca Roca´s Palace, for example, together with purely Andean baroque style colonial constructions, like the Cathedral and Company of Jesus´ Church. In addition, one can visit the old and picturesque neighborhood of San Blas, where the workshops of the region´s best artisans and artists, are located.
In contrast with so much history, this magic city has a palpitating and hot night life, vibrating with its own sounds and colors, as well as with international ones, in its cafés, restaurants, discotheques and bars, to satisfy every taste.
Ten minutes away from the city, the cyclopean strong walls and architectural remains of the Great Incan Ceremonial Complex of Sacsayhuamán stand up, and just a few kilometers further afield, there are the archaeological sites of Qenko, Pukapukara and Tambomachay which are Incan constructions, totally built with cut stones perfectly assembled and fit together, without the use of any masonry, in most cases.
Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu
All along the Sacred Valley of the Incas, one hour away from Cusco, lie the villages and localities of Pisaq, Urubamba, Maras, Chinchero and the welcoming small village of Ollantaytambo, from which it is possible to take a train bound to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes). Another way to get to the Incan City of Machu Picchu, is following one of the stone-paved trails of the Qhapaq Ñan or Powerful Incan Trail which was a spectacular network of trails that meandered among snow-capped mountains, rivers and breathtaking landscapes. Today, this beautiful trail has been transformed into one of the world´s best hiking itineraries. So, spread out along that so well-made trail, are impressive Incan architectural complexes and areas rich in unique species of flora and fauna.
The enigmatic Incan City of Machu Picchu, constitutes the most important and beautiful heritage left by the ancient Peruvians, in the mountainous region of Vilcabamba´s Batholith, and it is part of the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu which is one of the very few places in America, that were declared as both Cultural and Natural Patrimony of Humanity, by the UNESCO. This beautiful Sacred City is nestled on the top and slope of a mountain, and is harmonized and integrated within the exuberant nature that surrounds it, creating thus a unique place in the world.