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Plaza de Armas of Cusco

Cusco is a beautiful city that you have to visit. Once you arrive there, the history of every corner will amaze you and take you back in time. We can assure you that you will enjoy every single minute of your staying! Walking around the downtown area will also help you acclimatize to the altitude.

Plaza de Armas del Cusco

Plaza de Armas of Cusco

Description:

Plaza de Armas of Cusco is one of the most visited tourist sites. Formerly it occupied what is now Plaza Regocijo and Plazoleta Espinar. What separated the two sectors, Cusipata and Huacaypata, was the stream named Saphi. This stream was channeled through its entire route during the Inca period, and the part that ran through the plaza was covered as a tunnel. With all this, we can say that the main square was a swamp.

Origin of the name:

There is some controversy on the former name of this square. Some historians have the following opinions based on extensive research:

  • Gonzales Holguín says that Plaza de Armas was called “Aucaypata,” which means warrior’s place.
  • According to Angles Vargas, Plaza de Armas was called “Huacaypata” which means weeping place.
  • Finally, George Squier says that it was called “Huacapata,” which means a sacred place.

In 1942 Sebastián Garcilaso De la vega, father of the chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega authorized the construction of buildings and arcades that have altered the physical appearance of the Plaza, but its historical roots remain and create the present day ambiance. This plaza was divided into three:

  • Plaza de Armas of Cusco
  • Plaza de Regocijo
  • Plazoleta de Espinar

History:

According to the legend written by Inca Garcilaso de la Vega the foundiers of the Inca Empire were Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo. This myth tells how the god Inti sent the spouses (and siblings) to earth in order civilize men, venerate the Sun god and found a great empire. Emerging from the waters of Lake Titicaca, Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo arrived to a populated land and were immediately considered divine beings. The husband and wife were on a mission: if their golden scepter could sink in the earth, then the land was considered fertile and would be the location of an empire. That happened when they arrived in Cusco, so they started building the Inca Empire.

Manco Capac y Mama Ocllo, fundadores del imperio inca

Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, founders of the Inca Empire

Note:

Manco Capac put his golden scepter into the ground of Plaza de Armas of Cusco. Therefore his son and successor, Sinchi Roca, dried the swamp with soil brought from the mountains. Some time later, Pachacutec was in charge of drying it completely covering the swamp with sand brought from the coast.

It was center of religious and administrative activities of the incanato, around the square they are the palaces of Pachacutec, Huayna Capac and Viracocha Inca.

Plaza de Armas during the Incas time:

In the Incas time, the Plaza de armas of Cusco was one of the two meeting points:

Aucaypata, Huacaypata o Huacapata: important meetings took place here. It is also said that it served as strategic point for battles.

Cusipata: Huacaypata and Cusipata were separated by the Saphi stream. According to history research, once the battles finished in the main square, winners used to celebrate the victory in this plaza.

The name comes from a quechua two words which mean Cusi= happy and Pata=place, a happy place.

Furthermore, Plaza de Armas of Cusco was a starting point of the Inca Trail network, Qhapaq Ñan, that connected the whole empire.

Plaza de Armas del Cusco, La Compañía del Jesús

Plaza de Armas of Cusco, The Church of the Society.

Plaza de Armas of Cusco nowadays:

Nowadays, Plaza de Armas de Cusco holds important festivities like the Inti Raymi and Warachicuy, and in Christmas time, Saturantikuy, where all kinds of ornaments and garments for children of births are put on sale.

The plaza is surrounded by lovely colonial buildings with balconies that you can sit and enjoy the day. There is a variety of restaurants and tourist stores, gardens, and a fountain with a statue of the Inca Pachacutec in the center of the Plaza.

What can you see?

Sabemos que para realizar tours en el Cusco, primero debemos aclimatarnos y que mejor forma si empezamos visitando y conociendo la hermosa Plaza de Armas del Cusco. Aquí no solo podemos ver la catedral del Cusco, sino también, podrás visitar y conocer otras construcciones  importantes como:

  • Archways of Cusco: Plaza de Armas of Cusco has 8 archways that hide interesting and intriguing stories.portales con historias muy interesantes y curiosas.
  • The Church of the Society: It was built upon the Amarukancha palace of Huayna Cápac. The church was built by the Jesuits in 1576 and reconstructed after the 1650 earthquake.
  • Church of Triumph: It was built in 1539. The Spanish were cornered by a besieging army of Incas, led by Manco Inca. Just as it seemed that they were on the verge of defeat, the Spanish miraculously managed to drive back the Incas. The Catholic conquistadors attributed this victory to Saint James. That is why the church is called the Church of Triumph and why there is a statue of St. James atop a horse within the church, depicting him slaying an Inca.

Cathedral of Cusco:

Cathedral of Cusco was built between 1560 – 1654. This Cathedral was built using blocks pilfered from the nearby Inca site of Sacsayhuaman.

The Cathedral is built in Gothic-Renaissance style, with evidence of baroque influence in the façade. It is considered as National Cultural Heritage.

Video: Plaza de Armas of Cusco

Climate:

Cusco has two distinct seasons: dry and rainy. Dry season is from May to October. Rainy season is from November to April.

Best season to visit:

The best season to visit Plaza de Armas of Cusco is during the dry season, from May to October, since there is less rain and the roads are safer. You should bring warm clothes for mornings and nights because they are colder.

Inkayni tips:

  • Bring your passport with you all the time.
  • Wear a hat and sunscreen to prevent from sun damage.
  • Drink water to keep hydrated. Dry season is sunny in Cusco.
  • Visit the Cathedral of Cusco, as a way to acclimatize to the altitude.
  • Don’t forget to make space in your camera memory to take as many pictures as possible.

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