Cuzco, PeruCuzco 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.


View from San Blas, Cuzco, PeruCuzco 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 Wall in Cuzco PeruA Quechuan man, a decendant of the Incas, stand along one of the massive Inca walls that lined the cobble streets of Cuzco.


12-sided Inca stone in Cuzco PeruThe famous 12-sided stone.  It is a perfect example of the Inca’s extraordinary masonry skill. This perfectly fitted stone is part of the wall of the palace of the 6th Inca.


Massive Inca walls in Cuzco PeruThe Spanish preserved the basic structure of the Inca buildings and built churches and palaces over them.


Inca Walls on Loreto Street in Cuzco Peru

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, Cuzco PeruPlaza 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 Cathedral, Cuzco, PeruThe Cathedral was the most dominant structure in Plaza de Armas. Its construction began in 1559 and took a hundred years to complete. It was built over the foundation of Inca Viracocha’s palace.


The Cathedral, Cuzco, PeruThe 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.


Colonial Arcades in Plaza de Armas, Cusco, PeruThe colonial arcades that surround Plaza de Armas and the homes on the hills.


Plaza de Armas in Cusco, PeruThe view from one of the arcades at Plaza de  Armas.


Qoricancha Cuzco PeruSanto 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.


Cobbled Street of CuzcoA cobbled street of Cuzco.


Artsy street in San Blas, Cuzco, PeruAn artsy street in the neighborhood of San Blas.


Street in San Blas Cuzco, Peru

 A hilly street in San Blas.

     The downhill path was more fun. It was easier for the lungs.


A street in San Blas with a view of the city.


Narrow street of Cuzco, Peru

A narrow cobbled street.


Girl in Cuzco, Peru

A little girl hanging out on the steps.


Street of Cuzco, Peru

A woman on a corner of a narrow cobbled street.


A shop selling  products made of coca leaves – chocolates, teas, etc. No, nothing addicting.


Sacsayhuaman, Cuzco, PeruJust outside Cuzco is this immense Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman.  It was a site for military and religious rituals.


Stoneworks in Sacsayhuaman, Cuzco, PeruThe impressive Inca stone works at Sacsayhuaman. The stones are perfectly fitted together that a piece of paper will not fit in between the stones.


Sacsayhuaman in Cuzco, PeruSacsayhuaman was the site of Inca’s battle with the Spanish conquistadors. After their victory, the Spanish torn down stones from this site and used them for construction of their churches.


 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. 


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About Marisol

Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

7 responses to “Peru: Breathless in Cuzco

  1. kira

    Wow, what a history! You’re right, it looks like a very captivating city. I want to go to Cuzco!

    • Traveling Solemates

      HI Kira, glad that you agree that it is captivating indeed. You should definitely go!

  2. Jan Sullivan

    Cuzco looks truly breathtaking! Can’t wait for my trip! I hope I can handle the altude well.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Jan, you’ll definitely have breathtaking moments in Cuzco! Move slow and drink lots of water and you’ll be fine. Enjoy your trip.

  3. Danica Moran

    I’m always fascinated about Cusco and anything Incan. Your photoessay is interesting. I enjoyed seeing the photos and reading about the spanish buildings that were built over the Inca ruins. Looking forward to see more of your Peru photos.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Danica, the Inca history is really fascinating. Thanks for dropping by and check back for more!

  4. Craig Siimone

    Cuzco is very fascinating. I love the photographs of the streets and the people, they give me a great sense of place.

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