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Destination guide: Cuzco
The city of Cuzco is a playground of tourist attractions that include Incan structures, urban centers and ample opportunity for excursions such as:
Ruins of Machu Picchu
This majestic Incan citadel was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
A combination of its history, architecture, beauty, surroundings and geography has helped Machu Picchu become one of the most visited sites in the world. Each year, hundreds of tourists scale its ruins and touch the earth there to feel the magnetism that the magical spirit of the Andes can offer to those in search of a life-changing experience.
The ruins are located some 2400 meters (7874 feet) above sea level, at approximately 112 kilometers (70 miles) to the northwest of Cuzco. Visitors can arrive by train along the traditional Inca Trail or by hiring a helicopter to the nearby village of Aguas Calientes.
Ruins at Sacsayhuaman
Sacsayhuaman is an ancient Incan fortress situated 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) north of Cuzco. Both Spaniards and historians considered it to be a model of military architecture.
This "ceremonial fortress" was built 3700 meters (12,139 feet) above sea level and currently offers a panoramic view of its surroundings, including the city of Cuzco.
City of Ollantaytambo
At some 2800 meters (9186 feet) above sea level, Ollantaytambo is the only Incan city that is still inhabited. Located 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Cuzco along the Inca Trail, it is one of the traditional points of departure to Machu Picchu.
The Sacred Valley of the Incas: several important indigenous fortresses were built in this valley and archeologists have identified 350 sites of interest. The multitude of rivers made it one of the Incans' primary points of production, and the best strain of Peruvian maize is grown here today.
Ruins at Choquequirao
In the Aymara and Quechua languages, Choquequirao means "Golden Cradle" and was the last bastion of Incan resistance. Because of architectural similarities, the ruins are known as the "sacred sister" of Machu Picchu as their structures, buildings and terraces are distributed at varying levels.
The site can be reached by a two-day hike from the town of Cachora along an upward trail that stretches at least 30 kilometers (19 miles).
Compañía de Jesús Church
This stone building was erected by Jesuits alongside the Plaza Mayor and represents the most successful expression of Baroque style in Cuzco. Its ornamentation and degree of detail lend the architecture a richness and beauty that are unequaled and can be admired at every angle, from the pilasters to the slender cupolas.
The church's construction revolutionized architecture in the city, marking a milestone and creating trends that are still a source of discussion to this day.