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Cusco and Its Main Square - A Reflection of Peru's History

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Published: 13-11-2023

Found high in the Peruvian Andes, Cusco stands as the ancient heart of the Inca Empire and a testament to Peru's rich historical tapestry. At the epicenter of this living history lies Cusco's Main Square, a vibrant hub that echoes the country's past through its cultural heritage and architectural wonders. Originally built on the remains of one of the Incas’ most important gathering spots, this square keeps the spirit of a fallen empire alive. Years later, The "Plaza de Armas" is still the perfect way to reflect on the history and former glory of the Inca Empire and gain a deeper appreciation for what makes modern-day Cusco so special.  

Cusco cathedral

Why Visit Cusco and Its Main Square?

A journey to Cusco's Main Square is like plunging into a world where the past seamlessly intertwines with the present. The allure lies in exploring the remnants of the Inca civilization, Spanish colonial influence, and the vibrant contemporary Peruvian culture that pulses through the city's veins. The main square in Cusco is the center of Cusco with an eclectic mix of tourists and locals going about their daily business, surrounded by ancient Inca architecture, colonial churches, narrow cobblestone streets, and vibrant funky cafes and art shops.

A meeting Place

Why a Visit to Cusco and Its Main Square is Worth It

The Main Square encapsulates centuries of history in its cobbled streets and charming plazas. As you wander through this living museum, you'll witness the architectural marvels of colonial cathedrals juxtaposed against Inca walls, offering a unique glimpse into the layers of Peru's past. A living representation of various epochs that Cusco has been an integral part of.

Sunny Day on The Main Square

Itinerary Options to Visit Cusco and Its Main Square

Half-Day Exploration: Start with a guided tour of the Main Square, visit the Cathedral, the Jesuit Church, and Coricancha, the Inca Sun Temple. many hotels are situated on the main square making them the perfect launching spot to explore the city of Cusco.

Full-Day Adventure: Extend your journey to include nearby attractions like Sacsayhuaman and Qenqo, showcasing the grandeur of Inca engineering with these ancient monuments still standing today.

Aerial View of The Main Square

How Difficult is a trip to Cusco and Its Main Square?

While Cusco's high altitude may pose a challenge for some, acclimatization and a gradual exploration of the city can mitigate potential issues. The pavements are in a decent condition and traffic is limited on certain sections of the main square. The main thing to be aware of is the small stalls or street sellers, trying to sell tours, trinkets, or handicrafts, or convince you to eat in their restaurant!

View From a Balcony

Related Trip Advisor Comments

 "A mesmerizing journey through time! The Main Square is a captivating blend of history and culture. The guided tour was informative, providing insights into the city's rich heritage."

"Visiting Cusco's Main Square felt like stepping into a living time capsule. The blend of Inca and Spanish influences is mesmerizing. I highly recommend a guided tour to unravel the city's fascinating history."

"The Main Square comes alive in the evenings with twinkling lights and a lively atmosphere. Strolling under the starlit sky, surrounded by centuries-old architecture, is an enchanting experience."

"Venture beyond the main attractions for an authentic experience. Our guide led us to hidden gems and local eateries around the Square, introducing us to the vibrant flavors of Peruvian cuisine. A true cultural immersion!"

"Cusco's Main Square is a treasure trove of historical marvels. From the intricate carvings of Coricancha to the imposing Sacsayhuaman ruins, each turn reveals a new chapter in Peru's captivating story."

"Navigating Cusco's Main Square can be overwhelming, but our guide made it seamless. Their insights added depth to the experience, connecting the dots between the ancient and modern facets of this incredible city on our Peru vacation package"

Find more Trip Advisor Comments here.

Main Plaza Balconies

Can You Do the Trip to Cusco and Its Main Square Without a Guide?

While it's possible to explore the Main Square independently, a knowledgeable guide adds depth to the experience by unraveling the historical narratives and hidden gems that may be overlooked, especially if you plan to enter the many historic buildings situated on the main Square of Cusco.

Spring on The Main Square

What to Consider on a Visit to Cusco and Its Main Square

Altitude: Take time to acclimatize before extensive exploration.
Weather: Pack accordingly, as the weather in the Andes can be unpredictable.
Entry Fees: Some attractions may have entrance fees; check in advance.
Street Sellers: You will be approached by Street Sellers.

Street Sellers on the Main Square

How to Get to Cusco and Its Main Square

Cusco's Main Square is easily accessible on foot, and taxis are readily available. Consider hiring a local guide or using navigation apps for seamless exploration. Cusco´s main Square is the perfect place to people watch and wander around the local stores and take in the unique essence of Cusco and Its Main Square.

Procession on The Main Square

Must-Pack for Cusco and Its Main Square

  • Comfortable Walking Shoes: Essential for navigating cobblestone streets.

  • Layers: Weather can vary, so bring layers for warmth and sun protection.

  • Water and Snacks: Stay hydrated, especially at higher altitudes.

  • Umbrella: It can and often does rain in The Andes so take a brolly!

  • Sunscreen-Its easy to burn at this altitude as wander the streets

  • Camera, to take the classic photos of one of Peru´s finest Plazas 

Dusk on The main square

How to Prepare for a Visit to Cusco and Its Main Square

Acclimatization: Spend a day adjusting to the altitude before extensive exploration.
Learn Basic Spanish Phrases: Engage with locals for a richer experience.

The Cathedral Steps

Pro Tips About Cusco and Its Main Square

  • Early Mornings: Visit the Main Square in the early morning for a serene experience.

  • Local Cuisine: Try authentic Peruvian dishes in nearby restaurants for a gastronomic adventure on your day tour of Cusco.

  • Make sure you have small change in local currency

  • See a Quechua mass at the cathedral for free, early on Sunday mornings

  • A tour of The Cathedral on the main Square will allow you to witness Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper, eating the local specialty of Guinea pig!

Friends in Traditional Dress

How Much Does Cusco and Its Main Square Cost?

To visit the main square is free of charge however some of the main buildings do charge an entrance fee. All around the main square in Cusco, you may want to purchase souvenirs or a snack so it is a good idea to have some small change with you. Budget for accommodation, meals, entrance fees, and guided tour expenses, depending on the standard of hotels and restaurants you want to use during your visit.

Sunset over The Main Square

FAQs about Cusco and Its Main Square

Is altitude sickness common?
Altitude sickness can affect some visitors, so gradual acclimatization is crucial.

Are English tours available?
Yes, English-speaking guides are commonly available.

Can I explore the Main Square at night?
While the Main Square is safe, it's advisable to explore during daylight hours for a better view of architectural details. At night, there are a number of restaurants and bars that are open until the small hours.

Is the Main Square safe for solo travelers?

Yes, the Main Square is generally safe, but exercise standard precautions, especially at night.

What's the best time to visit Cusco and its Main Square?

The dry season (May to September) is ideal, offering clear skies and pleasant temperatures. However, be prepared for cooler nights.

Are there any local festivals or events that coincide with the visit?

Check the local calendar; Cusco often hosts vibrant festivals with parades, music, and traditional dances.

Can I purchase souvenirs around the Main Square, and what are popular items?

Yes, numerous shops offer local crafts, textiles, and traditional Peruvian goods. Alpaca wool products and handmade ceramics are popular choices.

How do I handle the high altitude, and are there remedies for altitude sickness?

Stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, and consider coca tea, a traditional remedy. Consult with a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

Are there restrictions on photography in historical sites?

Most sites allow photography, but some may charge a fee. Check the rules at each location.

What's the local currency, and are credit cards widely accepted?

The Peruvian Sol is the local currency. Credit cards are accepted in many establishments, but it's advisable to carry cash, especially in more remote areas.

Can I interact with locals, and how welcoming are they to tourists?

Peruvians are generally friendly and welcoming. Learn a few basic Spanish phrases to enhance your interactions.

Is there a dress code for visiting religious sites in Cusco?

Modest attire is appreciated when visiting religious sites. It's advisable to cover the shoulders and knees.

Are there family-friendly activities around the Main Square?

Yes, family-friendly tours and activities are available, catering to all age groups.

How do I navigate transportation within Cusco?

Cusco has a well-developed transportation system, including taxis and public buses. Walking is also a popular and convenient option within the city center.

Is there Wi-Fi access around the Main Square for communication and navigation?

Many cafes and restaurants offer Wi-Fi, but it's advisable to have a local SIM card for continuous connectivity.

The Main Square by Night

Embarking on an adventure to Cusco's Main Square as part of your holiday in Peru, is not just a trip; it's an odyssey through time, an immersion into the soul of Peru's captivating history. The city of Cusco presents us with a symphony full of culture. history, and natural landscapes to admire. This can best be represented within the Cusco and it´s Main Square. Cusco´s Main Square is set in the middle of a landscape where you can see a part of the Peruvian Andes, and the rich cultural and historical prowess can be narrated through its wonderful Inca history. Where Spanish architecture and native culture come together in a unique synchrony. Find out more about Cusco and its main square here!