Cusco is the magnificent capital of the Inca Empire, founded in the 13th century. Perhaps the name comes from the Aymara language rather than from the Quechua spoken language of the Incas meaning the navel and center of the world. Cusco is located in the center of the Inca Empire (Tahuantinsuyo) at 3,400 meters above sea level and has been named World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. The Tahuantinsuyo included what today are Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and part of Chile, Argentina and Colombia.
After the arrival of the Spanish conquerors to Cusco in the year 1533, although officially in 1534, the city began to be built under Spanish architectural influence, mostly over the remainings of the Inca palaces and temples giving it a unique and special creation worldwide to be admired. When you walk the streets of Cusco you will meet the mix of Inca palaces and temples and colonial churches and estates. Although the Spaniards destroyed many Inca buildings, many still remain, mainly in the San Blas and Santa Clara neighborhoods. There are plenty of beautiful Inca buildings among the cobble-stoned streets of Cusco like the temple-area Koricancha and the palace of Inca Roca. There are also Baroque structures from the colonial period like the Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas and the Church Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus. San Blas is a picturesque neighborhood with many artisan workshops.
Magnificent deluxe hotels have been built, many in buildings from the ancient times, to receive the millions of tourists visiting Cusco such as The Monasterio and very good restaurants. Peru is very well known for its wonderful gourmet food.
In the surroundings of Cusco you will admire fascinating ruins such as the Sachsayhuaman Fortress, built under the domain of the Killke culture (900 to 1200), prior to the arrival of the Incas, as well as the archeological Inca sites of Qenko, Pukapukara, Tambomachay, Ollataytambo, Pisac and Tinta, places worthwhile a visit. For adventurers, the Inca trail to Macchu Picchu, the lost city of the Incas, by foot is a must and river rafting in the Urubamba river a breathtaking experience.
When you visit Cusco today you will meet a big multicultural city, about 600.000 inhabitants, together with many travelers from all over the world. Besides the historical and cultural places you meet in and around the city, you also are greeted by the warm-hearted people from Cusco to visit their many hotels, restaurants, cafés, bars, etc, to enjoy you.
Cusco is the centre for excursions and treks to the famous places around the city, like; Pisac, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and of course Machu Picchu.