If you like to know much about Inca Civilization, you must like Cusco (also called as Cuzco) city. Cusco was not only the capital of the old Inca Empire(1200s-1532), this is the place from where Inca started to grow into a vast empire. Many believe that the city was planned to be shaped like a puma. The city had two sectors: the urin and hanan, which were further divided to each encompass two of the four provinces, Chinchasuyu (NW), Antisuyu (NE), Qontisuyu (SW), and Collasuyu (SE). A road led from each of these quarters to the corresponding quarter of the empire. Each local leader was required to build a house in the city and live part of the year in Cusco, but only in the quarter of Cusco that corresponded to the quarter of the empire he had territory in. After Pachacuti, when an Inca died his title went to one son and his property was given to a corporation controlled by his other relatives (a process called split inheritance), so each title holder had to build a new house and add new lands to the empire, in order to own the land his family needed to maintain after his death.
According to Inca legend, the city was built by Sapa Inca Pachacuti, the man who transformed the Kingdom of Cusco from a sleepy city-state into the vast empire of Tahuantinsuyu. But archaeological evidence points to a slower, more organic growth of the city beginning before Pachacuti. There was however a city plan, and two rivers were channeled around the city.
The original Inca city, said to have been founded in the eleventh century, but most part of them was modified by Pizarro in 1535. There are still remains, however, of the palace of the Incas, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Virgins of the Sun. There are some hotels where the kept the original Inca walls. There are still Inca building remains and foundations, which have been in some cases been proved to be stronger than the foundations built in the present day Peru.
Cusco is blessed by train service. Train service is comparatively comfortable in Peru. You can reach Machu Picchu by train from Cusco. If you look at the map, you will see you can reach Arequipa ( train service available) or Puno also from here. Bus service also good from Cusco. You can reach Arequipa in 6 hours from Cusco by luxurious bus, and fare is also not very expensive. For more on how to get into Cusco.
Cusco is very popular among tourists. So you may understand hotels are abundant in Cusco. All ranges of hotels you can find there. Here you can pass a night spending only $5.00 in Hospedaje Estrellita, or you can stay in Hotel Monasterio where rooms start from $ 450.00. For more on Cusco hotels.
What to see in Cusco
I suggest you to stay around Plaza de Armas as it is the center of all the tourist attractions. You may walk around the Plaza de Armas; the square has churches, shops, restaurants and bars backing on to it and is a great place to spend an afternoon. Also you must visit San Blas, the cultural center of the city. Here is a list of some places you can visit.
- Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporaneo, located in the Municipal Palace at Plaza Regocijo. Has exhibitions of contemporary art. Admission with the boleto turistico
- Museo Historico Regional, located in the home of the Inca historian Garcilaso de la Vega. Many paintings from the 17th and 18h century.
- Museo del Sitio del Qoricancha, Av Sol. With information about the different pre-Columbian cultures and fragments of ceramics and textiles of the Inca culture.
- Museo de Arte Popular, located in the basement of the OFEC office. Displays a collection of popular art.
- Galleries; the stunning scenery of the Cuzco area are often very well depicted by local artists. It is possible to find cheap prints that are of surprisingly good quality if you're prepared to shop about.
- Santa Catalina Convent, also a collection of religious art. Admission with the boleto turistico.
Cusco Tourist Ticket - Beleto
If you are planning to visit places in and around Cusco, you may buy Boleto. It is the admission ticket for some of the tourists spots in Cusco. It is also known as BTG (Boleto Turístico General). But before you buy this ticket, you need to check the list of sites you can enter with this tickets, as some this ticket does not include some important sites of Cusco.