Cusco is situated in a jaw-dropping valley, surrounded by six mountains more than 6,000 metres high.
It is comfortably the oldest city in the western hemisphere and the cradle of the Inca civilization.
One of the greatest archaeological finds of the twentieth century, the Inca citadel Machu Picchu, lies 80 kilometres south of the city.
Cusco gets its name from the Quechua word ‘Qosqo’ which means navel, meaning ‘Centre or navel of the world’ – given by the famous Cusquenian writer Inka Garcilaso de la Vega.
The urban aspect of Cusco changed a lot after their arrival, they built churches, casonas, and palaces over the main Inca temples, and only the Spanish were allowed to occupy them. An earthquake in 1650 finished with the transformation of this once-great empire.
Cusco was built in the shape of a puma, one of the symbolic echelons of Inca existence, lending the city a peculiar sprawling aspect.
Cusco harbours many great artistic treasures, its churches dripping with the plunder of the conquistadores. Cathedral walls are draped in gold and bear the paintings of great artists such as Marcos Zapata, Rafael de Urbina and Melchor Huaman.
The architecture draws upon a great variety of styles: Baroque, Rococo, Churrigeresco, all lending the city a hybrid personality.