About Cusco, Peru
Located in southeastern Peru, Cusco (or spelled as Cuzco) is near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. The population is 435,114 as of 2013. Cusco was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th century until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. The city is deemed the historic capital of Peru according to Peru’s constitution. Today, Cusco receives over 2 million visitors per year, and is becoming a popular destination city mainly due to Machu Picchu, the largest tourist attraction in South America, which was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1983.
Popular Destinations in Cusco
Many tourists flock to this city to immerse themselves in the unique culture that Cusco offers. Besides featuring many structures of architectural significance, Cusco is often used as a departure point to explore the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu. Here are some of the top attractions:
Machu Picchu: A legendary city that attracts visits from millions of tourists, Machu Picchu is not easy to reach. Most of the tourists will start from Cusco towards the Inca Trail on a journey that spans at least two days or more to access Machu Picchu, the ceremonial center of the Incas. This ancient city promises spectacular sights as you explore the different zones in Machu Picchu. Attraction spots you should not miss here include the Funerary Rock, the Torreón, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Intihuatana, among others.
Hatun Rumiyuq: One of the most popular tourist destinations in Cusco, this street’s name means “The One with the Big Stone”. Originally, this site was the palace of Inca Roca. It was converted to the Archbishop’s residence. Visiting this street will leave you in no doubt as to why Cusco was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you will see the Stone of the Twelve Angles, an excellent example of exquisite ancient stonework.
Saksaywaman: Saksaywaman is a large temple dating back to around 1100 AD. Created by the indigenous people of the Killke culture, this temple is the largest surviving structure in the area. This temple predates the Incas who came to occupy this area after 1200 AD. Visitors can enjoy tours of the aqueduct and remains of the roadways that connected the temple with surrounding towns and villages.
Qurikancha: Qurikancha was one of the important temples for the Inca Empire and its name is translated as ‘Temple of the Sun’. The Spanish colonist, Pizarro, destroyed much of the temple in 1535. However, the remains make for a fascinating visit, as does the nearby Temple of the Virgins of the Sun. Visitors to these temples can enjoy an unparalleled glimpse into the lives of ancient Incas.
Barrio de San Blas: Visitors interested in viewing the Spanish buildings over Inca foundations shouldn’t miss this neighborhood. Here, you will find craft shops, workshops and various artisans in the streets around a beautiful square. The woodwork in the parish church is the finest example of a carved wooden pulpit anywhere in Cusco. As many tourists put it aptly, the Barrio de San Blas neighborhood is the most picturesque area in Cusco.
Inka Wasi: If you fancy venturing off the beaten path, why not visit the highest Inca site in Cusco? That honor belongs to Inka Wasi, one of the lesser well known ruins. This site is located 13,060 feet above sea level and is well worth the trip for any adventure-seeking traveler.
Estadio Garcilaso de la Vega: This is the main stadium in Cusco. It is home to Cienciano, one of Peru’s most successful soccer clubs. Guided tours regularly take visitors around the grounds, the trophy rooms and the inner workings of the stadium.
Luxury Lodging in Cusco
Cusco is certainly a travel destination for those that have exotic taste. Here’s a list of the best hotels you can stay in if you are one of those that seek the finest that money can buy:
- Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel
- Belmond Hotel Monasterio
- Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado
- Belmond Palacio Nazarenas
- Casa Cartagena
- Inkaterra La Casona
- JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
- Palacio del Inka, A Luxury Collection Hotel
- Tambo del Inka Resport and Spa
Airports In or Nearby Cusco
Looking for a private jet charter to Cusco, Peru? Being a major business and tourism hub, Cusco has become more accessible in the recent past. Some of the notable airports in the region today include:
- Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ): The Alejandro Velasco Astete Airport in Cusco is the main international airport in the region. It is located in the heart of Cusco city, and serves both domestic and international air traffic. Despite its limited activity on account of being close to the city limits, the airport is still ranked as the country’s 2nd most important terminal. It handles more than 2 million passengers a year. Some of the features present at the facility include an 11,000 feet runway. It mainly serves commercial air traffic.
- Padre Aldamiz International Airport (PEM): The Padre Aldamiz International Airport is located close to some of Peru’s most notable ecological areas including the jungles of Tambopata. It is mostly used by ecology tourists as well as frequent business travelers. It’s very convenient for private aircraft use, and it’s also not as busy as the international airports around it.
- Quincemil Airport (UMI): The Quincemil Airport is located in the Cusco region in Peru. It’s a mid-sized airport that mostly serves domestic air traffic. It’s also popular among private jet users who are interested in accessing Cusco.
- Andahuaylas Airport (ANS): The Andahuaylas Airport is located in the Apurimac Region, around two hours away from Cusco by road. It’s the only airport in the region with scheduled commercial flights, and is run by the local government. Owing to the low air traffic at the airport, it’s also popular among people who use private charters. Services provided include hangar rentals, fuelling and servicing.
- Inca Manco Capac International Airport (JUL): Located around thirty minutes from the Titicaca Lake, the Inca Manco Capac International Airport is fast becoming a major hub for tourists interested in visiting the area. It is located three hours away from Cusco by road. The airport has the distinction of having the longest runway in Latin America.
- Iberia Airport (IBP): This is another small airport located in the Southern part of Peru, 222 miles away from Cusco. This airport currently features one asphalt runway.
- Alerta Airport (ALD): The Alerta Airport is a regional airport serving the Ucayali Region in Peru. It is commonly used by private charter clients. It is located around three hours away from the city of Cusco.
- Rodríguez Ballón International Airport (AQP): The Rodriguez Ballon International Airport is one of the major hubs in Southern Peru. The airport currently serves as the main gateway for tourists coming into the city of Arequipa. The facilities at the airport have been modernized, including through installation of two boarding jet bridges as well as a complete terminal interior redesign.
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