Jun 15, 5 years ago

Cuzco, Peru: More than Machu Picchu

http://blog.ailolalatino.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/3116232234_e754afd6d5_z1.jpgCuzco, Peru: More than Machu Picchu

Many tourists cruise through Cuzco with their eyes on Machu Picchu and miss out on the vibrant culture, art, and architecture. With cheap accommodations, great food, and a plethora of historical sites and activities, it’s easy to get cozy in Cuzco.

The former capital of the Inca Empire, Cuzco is an incredible mix of cultures. Grand Spanish cathedrals tower over ancient Incan walls which provide visual contrast to a rich historical backdrop. The vibrant indigenous Quechua culture is also firmly rooted in the city and surrounding area, which adds another element of culture and heritage. Because the city has maintained pre-Columbian architecture, you can easily spend an afternoon strolling around the cobblestone streets and impressive plazas. Beyond the spectacular Plaza de Armas, visit Barrio de San Blas, a neighborhood compiled of narrow, steep streets, and an historic plaza that contains a church built in the 1500s. If you have the time, check out the carved wooden pulpit inside.

Traditional textiles at a market in Cuzco, Peru

CC Image courtesy of mckaysavage on Flickr

The city has several local markets to buy the most beautiful hand woven textiles in the region. The exchange rate in Peru is seemingly in everyone’s favor, so these hand-made crafts are incredibly reasonable. You can easily kill an afternoon perusing the markets, talking with the craftsmen, stopping for great international and local cuisine. Learn about Peruvian cacao and artisan chocolate at ChocoMuseo, in the town center. After a day of sightseeing, unwind at one of the adorable local pubs or check out Backus and Johnson’s, Cusqueña brewery for a taste of the local brew. Try their traditional Pilsner style beer as well as their exceptional dark brew.

Lead Photo: CC Image courtesy of Minamie’s Photo on Flickr

ryan

Ryan is a writer, photographer, and teacher living and volunteering throughout Latin America.

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