Discovering Peru: Cusco - The Imperial City {GIVEAWAY} - Eva Varga

September 3, 20155

On our return to Cusco, we had the fortune to stop for a short time to see Saksaywaman. We then proceeded to our hotel, arriving late in the evening. Dinner was provided but we were able to take part at our leisure.


Saksaywaman is a citadel located on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco. Sections were first built around 1100 by the Killke culture who had occupied the area since 900. Beginning in the 13th century, the Inca expanded the complex and added dry stone walls constructed of huge stones.

According to Inca oral history, Tupac Inca “remembered that his father Pachacuti had called city of Cuzco the lion city. He said that the tail was where the two rivers unite which flow through it, that the body was the great square and the houses round it, and that the head was wanting.” The Inca decided the “best head would be to make a fortress on a high plateau to the north of the city.”


The large plaza area, capable of holding thousands of people, is well designed for ceremonial activities. Because of its location high above Cusco and its immense terrace walls, this area of Saksaywaman is frequently referred to as a fortress.

While clearly ceremonial in nature, the exact function remains unknown. In 1983 Cusco and Saksaywaman together were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for recognition and protection.

La Ciudad Imperial

After a comfortable night sleep and a wonderful breakfast buffet, we spent the morning touring Cusco, La Ciudad Imperial. The city of Cusco extends throughout the Watanay river valley. It has long been an important center of the indigenous peoples, and served as the capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th century – 1532.

According to Inca legend, the city was rebuilt by Sapa Inca Pachacuti, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cuzco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire we have come to know. The city was constructed according to a definite plan, and two rivers were channeled around the city.

plazaPlaza de Armas

The Plaza de Armas has always been the heart of Cusco, from the time of the Inca Empire to modern day. The Cathedral, on the northeast side of the plaza is the main attraction. On one side of the Cathedral is the church of Jesus Maria and on the other is El Triounfo.

The southeastern side of the main square is dominated by the church of La Compania de Jesus, which is easily mistaken for the Cathedral on first glance due to its ornate façade. However, it is obviously smaller and lacking the grand stairs in front.

The center of the square is a nice place to rest on the benches, soak up the gardens, and admire the fountain in the center. The area is also very lively and beautiful at night, with people mulling about and the architecture lit up with spotlights.

cathedralcuscoCathedral of Cusco

Construction began on the Cathedral in 1559 and completed in 1669, in the Renaissance style. It is built on the site where the Inca Wiracochas Palace once stood.

The Cusco Cathedral houses an impressive collection of art work, with over 400 paintings from the Escuela Cusquena. These paintings from the 16th and 17th century are unique in that they are European style with an obvious Andean Indian influence. In The Last Supper by Marcos Zapata, for example, shows the apostles dining on guinea pig.
Also of note in the Cathedral are the 400 kg main altar made from silver, the cedar choir stalls, and other wood carvings. Though we were able to tour the interior of the Cathedral, photographs were not allowed.

companiadejesusCompania de Jesus

Compania de Jesus, or La Compania as it is called, is a Jesuit church built in the 16th century. La Compania was the source of much controversy at the time it was constructed because of its grandeur,  threatening to surpass the Cathedral located in the same square. It looks particularly beautiful at night when it is lit up.
We concluded our walking tour of Cusco with a wonderful meal at a restaurant in the plaza. We spent the afternoon independently of the group – choosing to do a little shopping in the markets before returning to the hotel for a late afternoon siesta before dinner.
Dinner was served buffet style at another restaurant in the plaza and featured live music and traditional dancing. It was a fitting closure to our tour with International Expeditions.
Discovering Peru @WellTraveledFamily.netI hope you have been enjoying this virtual tour of Peru. Be sure to come back to tomorrow when we arrive in Lima.

Arriving in Cusco & the Sacred Valley

Machu Picchu

Ollantaytambo Temple & Peruvian Paso

Lima – The City of the Kings (coming tomorrow)

travelguidesWhen we travel, I always purchase a DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to familiarize myself with the country and the culture. Updated annually, each book provides a detailed description of popular tourist attractions, restaurants, and lodging options.

Each guide divides the country (or city) into color coded regions enabling quick browsing while on the road. The DK Eyewitness Travel Guides are comprehensive guides that provide everything to see at a location. While comprehensive, the books give just the right amount of information to spark interest in the particular sights you want to see. They are organized intelligently for the traveler, and they always provide a map.

As a special expression of gratitude to you, I am giving away one DK Eyewitness Travel Guide of choice to a lucky reader. The contest closes on the 20th of September at 12 a.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My post is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing. You might also be interested in my post, 5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them, on my homeschool blog.



  • Joan Foley

    September 3, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Greece and England are at the top of our list right now!

  • Joan Foley

    September 3, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    Greece and England are at the top of our list right now!

  • Christine Beasley

    September 9, 2015 at 6:40 am

    I hope to travel to Australia, Iceland, and Scandinavia.

  • Christine Beasley

    September 9, 2015 at 6:40 am

    I hope to travel to Australia, Iceland, and Scandinavia.

  • Pingback: Family Travel Guides From Around the World - Multicultural Kid Blogs

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