26 December 2017

Cusco, Peru

After a few days being by Lake Titicaca and exploring the city of Puno and its surrounding areas, we hopped on a long coach ride to Cusco in central Peru, stopping off at a few sites along the way: Pucará, where the famous bulls are from, La Raya valley at the highest point of our trip (4,338 metres), the Temple of Wiracocha complex, and the beautiful, golden Apóstol de Andahuaylillas, built by Jesuits in the 16th century, and called the Sistine Chapel of America.  Cusco was my favourite city in Peru, and we changed our plans a little to spend more time there: here's what we got up to in four days.

Emma Louise Layla in Cusco, Peru - lifestyle & travel blog

Like many South American cities, Cusco revolves around the vibrant Plaza de Armas in the colonial centre.  Here you'll find the impressive cathedral and a 16th-century church with a fountain, colourful flower beds, colonial arcades, carved walls from when it was The Great Inca Square, and a steady stream of locals, tourists, and persistent vendors hawking paintings, clothing, trips, refreshments, and everything in between.

Baby llama in Cusco, Peru - lifestyle & travel blog

Cusco Cathedral took almost a hundred years to build, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its ornate structure and colonial artwork, artefacts and relics inside.  From there, we wandered through narrow dry stone wall streets to find the twelve angled stone, an archaeological artefact which was once part of a palace and is the most famous example of the Inca's impressive stonework.  These huge, ancient walls were built with precisely cut boulders without mortar over 600 years ago, and they still stand the test of time.  An impressive feat indeed.


Cusco, Peru - lifestyle & travel blog


One afternoon we climbed the steep steps to the top of the city, took in the views at San Cristobal church and carried on hiking up to the Statue of Christ and the incredible Sacsayhuamán, which appears to have eleven names.  It's a vast citadel on the outskirts of the city dating from the 12th century, which was once both a golden temple and a fortress; another well-earnt spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We visited the Qorikancha Museum, housing Inca ruins of a 15th-century temple which was once covered in pure gold.  #Interiorgoals.

Flowers at Cusco market, Peru - lifestyle & travel blog

We spent ages at the bustling San Pedro market browsing the stalls selling dozens of varieties of potatoes, thousands of fresh flowers, guinea pigs, whole chickens and multicoloured corn, and picked up fresh fruit juices at the Mercado San Blas.  Our favourite food places included delicious ceviche and sashimi at fusion restaurant Limo, a contemporary take on traditional Andean cuisine at Chicha por Gastón Acurio - the Peruvian chef behind Astrid y Gastón in Lima - and simple dishes at the casual, modern Cafe Morena.  The city centre is buzzy day and night, so we couldn't resist stopping for a couple of pisco sours on our way home to our beautiful hotel (more on that next) each night.  What a fantastic, energetic place.

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