extension and population
| Brief historic
Main attractions of the capital |
Main attractions of the department of Cusco
Typical dishes and beverages |
EXTENSION AND POPULATION
The department of Cusco is located in the south oriental region
of the country, comprising part of the Sierra and the Jungle.
At 3,360 m.a.s.l. (11,023 ft), it limits with Arequipa, Puno,
Apurímac, Junín, Ucayali and Madre de Dios.
In the high regions the mornings are mild and the nights are
cool. There are two seasons, dry and humid. The rainy months
are December through March. In the Sierra the annual average
temperature is 11°C (52°F), while in the Jungle is
above 25°C (77°F).
Cusco has an extension of 76,329
km² (29,470 sq ml) and a population of over 1'000,000
The capital is Cuzco
(Cusco), known as the Archeological Capital of America.
There is little information on
the department of Cusco before the Spanish conquest. What
is known has been transmitted through oral tradition from
generation through generation. It is said that the city of
Cusco was founded between the eleventh and twelfth centuries
by the legendary figure of Inca Manco Cápac who, according
to the legend, emerged from the Titicaca Lake.
Cusco, sacred city and capital
of the Tahuantinsuyo, was the government center of
the four big administrative regions of the Inca empire. This
fabulous empire extended to comprise a great part of what
today is Ecuador, Colombia, Perú, Bolivia, Argentina
and Chile. The Inca empire was a very well structured society.
It stands out for having a great knowledge in architecture,
hydraulic engineering, medicine and agriculture.
On March 23, 1534, Francisco
Pizarro founded, over the Inca city of Cusco, a Spanish city.
It then turned out to be an example of cultural blending,
which has left us priceless architectural monuments and pieces
During Colonial times, several
big insurrections against the Spanish power took place. The
most important was lead by José Gabriel Condorcanqui
(Túpac Amaru II) in 1871, others were headed by the
Angulo brothers and by Mateo Pumacahua in 1814.
Since 1825, with the Republic,
Cusco starts to show the wonders of its culture. With the
discovery of Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham in 1910, Perú
is mentioned all over the world.
ATTRACTIONS OF THE CAPITAL
Plaza de Armas known
as Huacaypata, is which means cry or moan. Tradition
says that it was designed by its founder, Inca Manco Cápac,
as the symbolic center of the empire. There, Túpac
Amaru and his wife, Micaela Bastidas and their children were
executed for fighting against Spanish oppression.
The Temple of Sacsayhuamán.
At a walking distance from the center, it has big walls
of monumental stones distributed in zigzag and in three platforms
that have an average of 360 meters (1,181 ft). There are stones
of as much as 9 mt (30 ft) long and 5 mt (16 ft) wide.
Tambomachay, known as
the Baños del Inca (Baths of the Inca). Clear
running water flows through the stairways, and it is said
to have been a sanctuary for water worship.
Puca Pucará Red Fortress
formed by terraces, stairways, turrets, urns, vaulted
niches and platforms.
The Kencco Amphitheater.
Built in rock, it is said to have been an Inca worship site.
There are passages, canals, and stairways with stone engravings
representing the puma, a sacred animal.
de San Blas. The quarter of San Blas is located a few
blocks from the Plaza de Armas. It is well-known for housing
the workshops of the most important Cusqueño artisans,
such as, the Mendivil family, Olave and Mérida. The
local church has a famous 400 years old pulpit, beautifully
carved in a sole piece of wood.
Koricancha or The Temple of
The Sun, constructed during the rule of Inca Pachacutec.
Among the churches and monasteries,
the Cathedral, San Francisco, Santo Domingo, Santa Catalina,
San Pedro, Santa Clara, La Compañía, San Cristóbal
and La Merced are the most important. La Merced houses a famous
1720 gold monstrance weighing 22 kilos, encased with 1,805
diamonds and other 615 precious stones, such as rubies, topazes,
Among the mansions, the
most outstanding are, Casa de los Cuatro Bustos, Casa de los
Marqueses de San Juan de Buena Vista y Rocafuerte, Palacio
del Almirante, and Casa Solariega, where the Inca Garcilazo
de la Vega was born.
ATTRACTIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CUSCO
It is the most important attraction in the department of Cusco.
For many, it is the Eighth Wonder of the World and
shows the knowledge of a culture that was able to build a
citadel with gigantic rocks perfectly fitted together and
in a site of difficult access. Still today, the attention
is drawn on how and from where could these people transport
such enormous stones. There are no stone pits in the region
nor had the Incas discovered the use of the wheel.
Sacred Valley of the Incas. Bathed by the waters
of the Urubamba and Vilcanota rivers, the valley includes
the towns of Pisaq, Yucay, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo and Chincheros.
All these villages display pre-Hispanic archeological vestiges,
built by the different Incas to use them as fortresses or
as retreat sites. They are ideal for handicraft shopping.
Oropesa. Known as the
land of bread. The people are dedicated to cooking home-made
bread in the most varied forms and flavors.
Piquillacta, an archeological
pre-Inca construction of 63 hectares. It is geometrically
surrounded by terraces and walls that withhold high and unique
buildings. It is said that it served as a defense and food
is famous for its chapel constructed in 1580 and known as
The Peruvian Sixtine Chapel. The external simplicity
of the building contrasts with an interior housing Colonial
Baroque style golden altars, murals, polychrome ceilings and
DISHES AND BEVERAGES
In a city so full of traditions,
such as Cusco, the food makes part of the warm atmosphere
tourists find there.
Most well-known among the Cusco
dishes are, rocoto relleno, which, unlike other parts
of the country, include peanuts, green peas, a battered egg
and gilded potatoes. Another popular dish is the puchero,
a soup based on steak, lamb head, bacon and raisins, to which
pieces of cabbage, potatoes, chickpeas and rice are added.
Other delicious dishes include the rabbit or cuy (guinea
pig) pepián, kapiches cheese, and chunocola.
To drink, the local beer, aguardiente
or chicha are recommended.
Chereaje. A competition among men to determine who is
the strongest and most courageous. It takes place in various
towns and recalls ancestral practices.
Carnivals take place in
the different Cusco villages, where locals dance and drink
happily. The city of Qoya celebrates a Festival Carnavalesco.
Holy Week. People honor
Holy Week with a spirit of retreat. Several images
go out in procession. El Señor de los Temblores
(The Lord of Earthquakes), the city patron, is also taken
out in procession on Holy Monday.
Second Week in May. Vigil
and Adoration of the Cross.
During the last week in May
through the first week in June, the International
Beer Festival takes place. Famous national and international
artists are invited to participate.
June 1. Corpus Christi.
June 18 and 19. Qoullurity
and Quispicanchis Festivities.
June 24. Inti Raymi.
The ancestral Fiesta del Sol in gratitude for having had
a good harvest.
July 15. Fiesta de
la Virgen del Carmen in Paucartambo. The entire town of
Paucartambo and their guests celebrate by honoring mamacha
Carmen (mama Carmen).
November 1. All Saints
Day. To the rhythm of bands of musicians, families visit
the cemeteries to recall their dead. They with them a home-made
bread for the occasion, guaguas, shaped as baby dolls.
December 24. Santuranticuy.
A popular fair where artisans from various regions exhibit
and sell their works.