Cuzco will take your breath away – literally and figuratively. At an elevation of 11,000 ft above sea level, you will find yourself gasping for breath while walking along its historic narrow, steep cobbled streets. At the same time you can’t help but hold your breath as you find yourself captivated by the magnificent fusion of Incan and Spanish colonial structures that you will see at every turn.
Cuzco was the capital of the mighty Inca empire from the 12th century until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. It is considered the archeological capital of the Americas and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited city. It is also popular for travelers as gateway to Machu Picchu.
Inca walls flanked the street of Loreto. The wall on the right was part of the palace of the 11th Inca. It is now the site of the Catholic church of La Compania de Jesus. The wall on the left was part of the Inca’s House of the Chose Women. After the Spanish conquest, it became part of the Convent of Santa Catalina.
Plaza de Armas was the center of the Incan Cuzco and remains the heart of the modern day Cuzco. Today, the sprawling square is dominated by imposing relics left by the Spanish conquistadors – grand churches and colonial arcardes.
The church of La Compania de Jesus is another dominant presence at Plaza de Armas. This baroque church was built by the Jesuits over the foundation of Inca Huayna Capac’s palace. It was said to be the most beautiful of all Inca palaces.
Santo Domingo was built in the 17th century on the walls of the Qoricancha, Inca’s Temple of the Sun. The finest Inca stonework in existence today is the curved wall beneath the west end of the Church.
A hilly street in San Blas.
A narrow cobbled street.
A little girl hanging out on the steps.
A woman on a corner of a narrow cobbled street.
A doorway framed by perfectly fitted massive stones.
We were feeling acclimatized by this time and were set for the 4-day Lares Valley Trek to Machu Picchu.