In this post I will show you that Cusco is much more than Machu Picchu. These are my nine reasons to visit Cusco:
1. Tradition is Still Alive
Ancient neighbors nearby Cusco´s main square such as Santa Ana, San Blas, San Cristobal, and San Pedro as well as rural areas still maintain traditions from Inca and Spanish times especially related to catholic faith and to the Mother Earth or Pachamama.
The cooking technique of watia, the popular handicraft fair of Santuranticuy, Inca festivals such as Inti Raymi, and religious processions such as Corpus Christi, Easter, and the Lord of the Earthquake are just a few samples of this rich tradition.
2. Irresistible Flavour
Nowadays Cusco is a city where you can taste not only local dishes but also food from almost all Peru. As a matter of fact, ceviche and juane (one of the most typical plate from the jungle) are available in small restaurants a few minutes from the main square by taxi. Cusco is the second city in importance, after Lima, regarding Peruvian and Andean food.
Some feasts have their own dishes: puchero in carnival, chiriuchu in Corpus Christi, 12 dishes on Easter, and lechón or suckling pig in Dia de los Muertos (Halloween). You can also read: A glimpse at Cusco Food.
3. We are Friendly and Easy-Going Guys
As far as I was said, countries such as France and Spain get so many tourists that locals are not longer interested in them. That does not happen in Cusco even though it is Peru´s most visited place. Even if we did not speak your language, we would be ready to help you out with a wide yet sincere smile. Whether you are on the stairs of the Cathedral, the Mercado San Pedro or just anywhere else, there would always be someone young or elder, female or male who would get closer not only to offer you something but also to make you laugh with his somewhat naive chat.
4. Cusco is Just a Feast
Even though most of us are down and out, we like to have fun because we are experts at finding reasons to celebrate. And I am talking about not only during the night which, in fact, is excited but also during the day. Above all, we love dancing and the best place to do so is on the streets. So no surprise if you just spot at any time all year round a religious procession or a parade with dancers and musical bands along the narrow streets. And you would see not only adults but also children with typical and colorful customs especially in the parade at the main square on Sundays. And the best of all is that everyone is welcome to the party!
5. Spiritual and Healing Center
The Incas were a spiritual and religious culture, and the heritage continues in many ways. People still gather in order to worship nature especially the Mother Earth, and the sun above all during the winter solstice on June 21.
If you want to heal your body and mind or just watch your future or past life you can try ayahuasca or san pedro under the guidance of a shaman. There are places with a lot of energy such as the terraces of Moray where you can practice meditation or yoga too. All in all, there is a great vibe here in Cusco everywhere you go.
Cusco was regarded as the navel of the world by the Incas and that is precisely what this word means in Quechua. And this is still true because you would have the chance to mingle with local people as well as with ones from around the world. As a matter of fact, Cusco is Peru´s most cosmopolitan city so it is the best place to know not only Andean culture but other cultures as well.
Whether you are a real hiker or just a bus tourist you would not help admiring the surroundings full of hills, mountains, snow-capped mountains, prairies, and rivers as well as native flora and fauna. The smell of the countryside is strong especially in Moray and alongside the Sacred Valley.
8. World Heritage City
The city of Cusco boasts Inca and Spanish heritage and that is easier to appreciate in its architecture. There are colonial houses, churches and balconies built over Inca palaces, walls, and terraces which are almost hidden alongside Cusco´s narrow streets. No surprise UNESCO has declared Cusco a World Heritage City. Take your time to walk around the streets slowly and appreciate this unique city.
9. A Heaven for Archaeology Lovers
Actually, this is why I settled here since I can not help feeling like Indiana Jones when I happen to get any archaeological site. Cusco means not only Machu Picchu but much more: Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Pukapukara, Tambomachay, Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, Chincheros, Pikillaqta, Tipon, Raqchi, Moray, Choquequirao, Killarumiyoq just to name the ones you should not miss, but the list is still longer.
Just a few days ago, a team lead by a french archaeologist announced the research of a huge archaeological complex on the way to the jungle: Closer to the Secret City of Paititi?
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