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© 2008 Mark Collins


Peru 2004 - Day 5, Arrival in Cuzco

After a short flight from Arequipa (on which we were treated to a tape of Christmas music!) we arrived in the Sacred Capital City of the Incas, Cuzco.

After a steep descent, here we are walking from the plane at Cuzco airport. Cuzco is at an altitude of 3,416 metres.

The city is well known for its Inca architecture; enormous stone blocks are so perfectly fitted together that no mortar was needed.

Under the Inca ruler Pachacutec, Cuzco developed into a complex urban centre with distinct religious and administrative functions.

Arrival at Cuzco - MTC

 When the Spaniards conquered it in the 16th century, they preserved the basic structure but built Baroque churches and palaces over the ruins of the Inca city.

This photo is of Coricancha, the temple of the sun.  Apparently when the Spaniards arrived here this building was covered in thick gold on the outside.  The Dominican Priory and church of Santa Domingo are built on the ruins of the temple, which were  further revealed by a major earthquake in 1950.

Convent at Cuzco - MTC
Cuzco Colonial Cathedral - MTC

From all parts of the Inca empire a wealth of silver and gold poured into Cuzco, filling the temples and palaces.  These treasures were plundered by Francisco PIZARRO in 1533, and the city was destroyed. The Spaniards built a new city on the ruins of the old, adorning the magnificent edifices of their churches with the looted wealth.

Under Spanish rule Cuzco flourished as an art center, home of the renowned Cuzqueno school of painting.
Peruvian lady in the square at Cuzco - MTCWe enjoyed a fairly relaxed afternoon in this lovely city (one of the few of the trip) acclimatising to the altitude and feasting on delicious pancakes and lemon in a cafe with balconies overlooking the main square, Plaza de Armas.

The Cathedral is the most prominent structure overlooking the square and is adjoined to a church on either side, the Iglesia Jesus María and Iglesia El Triunfo.

The above view of the cathedral and its flanking churches is from the cafe balcony showing the colonial cathedral which dominates the top side.

Here is a lady in the traditional Peruvian dress - the bowler hats were introduced by the Spanish.

While we were sitting here people watching we observed a gardener tending the flower beds.  While his back was turned a cheeky little Peruvian boy (about 6 years old) ran off across the square with a potted bedding plant which he had grabbed from the gardener's pile!

This is the narrow road which leads up towards the square from the hotels. 

Navigating these streets became an interesting obstacle course between various young people attempting to charm us into parting with our Soles in exchange for a postcard or small knitted animal! The boys in particular had learned enough English to impress us with their knowledge that David Beckham played for England, our prime minister is Tony Blair and we have a queen.  Very hard to resist!

Inca foundations are visible on the left hand wall.

Narrow street at Cuzco - MTC

The main square at at Cuzco - MTC

The photo above is again of the Plaza de Armas, this time looking back down to the lower part of the city.  Our pancake cafe is one of the buildings with blue balconies.  The church in the picture is La Compañía, one of Cuzco's most ornate churches.  It is also shown in the picture below with its dome more visible.

Church in the main square at Cuzco - MTC

Balconies and Cathedral in the main square at Cuzco - MTC


Here is another photo of the Cathedral (above), with a closer view of the arcades which surround this beautiful square.  The streets and alleyways around the square are full of bustling traders and inexpensive restaurants.  This city has a real buzz - and is a fantastic place to visit.