Things you can do while acclimating: before your Inca Trail
To be ready to hike the Inca Trail, we recommend coming at least 2 or 3 days before you start the Inca Trail.
Inkayni Peru Tours has prepared a list of places you can visit while acclimating to the altitude.
- Plaza de Armas
- The Cathedral
- La compañía de Jesús (The Church of the Society)
- Qoricancha temple
- San Pedro Market
- Cusco Museums
- San Blas
- Cusco Plaza de Armas:
Cusco was the capital and cultural heart of the Inca Empire, with the city’s modern-day Plaza de Armas serving as one of the empire’s most essential and beloved gathering spots.
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.
Even though they have different opinions on the name, they all agree that Plaza de Armas was divided in two, being Plaza Regocijo part of Plaza de Armas.
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.
- Cusco Cathedral:
The Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin, also known as Cusco Cathedral, is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cusco. The entire building 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.
Cusco Cathedral has a rectangular floor design and has three large wooden doors on its façade.
The Cathedral has one nave and two aisles: the “Epistle Aisle” toward the east, and the “Gospel Aisle” toward the west. Advancing toward the right side, through the “Epistle Aisle,” one enters the chapel where some Silver objects are displayed.
The Cathedral has 14 cruciform pillars carved from andesite stone (hard stone), which support 24 ribbed arched or star or shaped ceilings. A point of interest is that one of the paintings in the Cathedral painted by a Quechua artist Marcos Zapata of the last supper features guinea pig.
The Cathedral is flanked by two smaller churches: Triunfo (church of Triumph) and La Sagrada Familia (the Holy Family).
- Triunfo (church of Triumph):
The Church of Triumph was built in 1538. It was built over Suntur Wasi, which was an Inca ceremonial building adjoining the palace of Wiracocha, in a similar way to the way that the Cathedral is now adjoined to the earlier Iglesia del Triunfo.
The name of the Church of Triumph derives from the history of the Spanish settlers in Cusco. At one point, presumably between 1533, and 1536, the Spanish were cornered by a besieging army of Incas, led by Manco Inca. It seemed that they were on the verge of defeat, but the Spanish miraculously managed to drive back the Incas. The devout Catholics believed that Saint James the Greater (the patron saint of Spain) descended from heaven to drive back the Incas. This is why the church is called the Church of Triumph. Now, you will see a statue of St. James atop a horse inside the church, depicted slaying an Inca.
La Sagrada Familia (the Holy Family).
Holy Family is a small temple in which construction began in 1723 and finished within 1733-1735. It has images of the Holy Family on the main façade, and its high altar has a Baroque style, which is depicted in altarpieces and paintings. The temple was finally completed in 1737.
This temple is composed of a Latin cross nave with a rectangular floor plan with small lateral niches. Walls inside the temple are polished stone with lime plaster. The whole church is also built with andesite.
About the roof of the temple, it’s composed of five vaults built with rectangular bricks. In the sector of the presbytery, the altarpiece or baroque altar with two lateral sacristies is located.
The Wall of the facade is treated as a rectangular stonework canvas, composed of three bodies. The crowning facade is a valance with circular ornaments with cornice at the top.
- La Compañia de Jesus: (The Church of the Society)
It is located in Cusco Plaza de Armas. It was built upon the palace of Huayna Cápac, the last Inca to rule an undivided, unconquered empire. That palace, named Amarukancha, was awarded to Hernando Pizarro after the Spanish invasion. Later the property was bought from the conqueror’s heirs by Diego de Silva and his wife Teresa Orgoñez, who donated it to the Jesuits after their arrival to this city in 1571; so that they could build the church for their Order. The church was built by the Jesuits in 1576 and reconstructed after the 1650 earthquake.
- The architecture of this building exerted a great influence on the development of many Baroque architectures in the South Andes. The church is mainly made with andesites and has the most beautiful and well-made facade among the churches in the city. Over its entrance gate is an Immaculate Conception Virgin carved in Berenguela style(marble looking material). Inside, the church has just one broad nave; at its end is the High Altar that was carved in cedar wood with a hybrid style. That Altar is 21 meters (69 ft.) high and 12 meters. (39ft.) wide; in its central part is the effigy of the Immaculate Conception Virgin, and higher a canvas representing the Lord’s Transfiguration.
- One important painting you shouldn’t miss is the northern wall that represents the wedding of Spanish Captain Martin Garcia Oñas de Loyola, who was the nephew of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and captor of the last Inca Tupac Amaru I; and Clara Beatriz Qoya, daughter of Sayri Tupac and therefore Tupac Amaru’s niece.
Visiting Hours: Monday – Saturday 9.00 am – 11.45 am, and 1.00 pm – 5.30 pm / Sun 9.00 am – 10.45 am and 1.00 pm – 5.30 pm.
- Qoricancha temple:
This beautiful temple was one of the most important and most sacred temples of the Inca empire. Its ruins are located in Santo Domingo Plaza in Cusco. When the Spanish arrived in Cusco, they destroyed most of Qoricancha, and the Santo Domingo Church was built on the foundations and the remaining walls of the temple, preserving only a small part of its indigenous beauty.
The word “Qoricancha” is formed through a combination of two Quechua words: “Cori” meaning gold, and “cancha” meaning open ground or enclosure. This suggests the idea of “Golden Enclosure.”
It was built using the fine masonry skills for which the Inca have rightly become famous, the massive walls of the complex were built from large stone blocks finely cut and fitted together without mortar. Most walls leaned slightly inwards as they rose in height, a typical feature of Inca Architecture. Many trapezoid doorways and windows allowed access and light to enter the interior spaces, and broadband of gold was added mid-way height around the walls. The doors were also covered in gold sheets, as were the interiors and exteriors of the various temples, and the inner side of the perimeter wall was even said to have been studded with emeralds.
Little remains today except for some sections of its fine stone walls, which hint at the site’s once-massive size and the legendary stories which tell of the enormous quantity of gold used to decorate the temples and its golden garden. Many structures of the enclosure were destroyed. Today, only some of its constructions are maintained.
Temple of the Sun:
Of all of Qoricancha, the Temple of the Sun was the most important. It was the main altar where the god Inti (Sun) represented in the god Wiracocha (main god of the Incas and other Andean cultures) was worshiped. During the Inca period, this enclosure was covered by gold and other precious metals.
The rainbow was also worshiped by the Incas and had a dedicated temple as well. The upper part is distinguished by the shape of a rainbow. A phenomenon worshiped by the Incas because it came from the sun.
The Solar Garden became almost a warehouse for the offerings brought to honor the Sun God. It consisted of many things, such as flowers and other foliage brought from Tahuantinsuyo. Research has suggested that these offerings were made of gold and silver. They were so plentiful that they filled the huge garden. During Colonial time, it became Dominican friars’ garden.
Temple of the Moon:
Not far from the Temple of the Sun, rests the Temple of the Moon. Considered to be the wife of the sun, the Moon Temple was an important part of Qoricancha. Sadly, the majority of this temple was also destroyed in order to make room for the Spanish church.
In the original Qoricancha, there were five different fountains, and the origin of the water was a secret. Each fountain held a different religious significance, and in true Qoricancha style, were decorated with beautiful metals.
Ray, Thunder, and Lightning Enclosure:
This rectangular enclosure has three doors for the ray, thunder, and lightning.
Hall of Sacrifices:
This room was named for the rock-carved as a sacrificial table in the lower part.
Gate or the Sacred Alley:
A kind of corridor surrounded by two finely carved stone walls. Leads to the main precinct.
Temple of Venus and the Stars:
As the Sun was God and the Moon was his wife, so the stars were the daughters of the Inca and servants to the moon. The temple to celebrate the stars were close to the moon but was separated by a small alley, dedicated to Venus. Bone remains of Southamerican camelids were found in a niche, so it is believed that animal sacrifices were made there.
Admission time to the Temple is from Monday to Saturday 8:30 am -5:30 pm
Sunday 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
- San Pedro Market:
San Pedro or Central Market of Cusco is five blocks from Cusco Plaza de Armas. It houses a large number of food stalls, with whole sections dedicated exclusively to fruit juices and juices, snacks, and prepared meals.
Inkayni Peru Tours recommends going there for many reasons: you will hear the Quechua language pronounced correctly, see common gestures and habits in the Andean culture, feel the mix of local products and flowers, find artisan clothes, and handicrafts.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: From 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
- San Blas:
It is just two blocks away from Plaza de Armas on the Hatunrumiyoc Street at San Blas neighborhood.
It has narrow streets where the pedestrians and vehicles pass taking turns; the San Blas neighborhood still keeps a picture of the Inca and conquerors times. Its architecture is a combination of both periods, and that is why to walk these streets creates a sense of timelessness.
It is in San Blas where the best folk artists of the city emerged, and today you can still enjoy the workshops, craft shops, and artisans along the narrow streets.
There is also a viewpoint that provides a spectacular panoramic view of the city – especially beautiful at night.
Inkayni Peru Tours would love to be part of this process of acclimating, providing a guide on activities and places you can visit.
Visit our website and check all the tours we offer: https://www.inkayniperutours.com/es/ or just click: Inkayni Perú Tours
“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony, which once existed between man and the universe.”
– Anatole France