Sacred Valley and Cuzco Peru (Cusco)
From Peru Travel Adventures
The Sacred Valley of the Incas, is actually the Vilcanota/Urubamba River valley. It is located about 10 miles north of Cuzco Peru, and extends northwest through Pisac and Ollantaytambo. This entire region, highlighted by Cuzco, was the heart of the Inca civilization from the 14th to the 15th centuries. In reflection, there are numerous impressive ruins. Many of the villagers in this valley today live life much the same as they did prior to the Spanish Conquest in 1532.
Cuzco is a city where past and present collide in an uneasy mix. This mythical capital of the Inca Empire, preserves with pride its wall and battlements of stone, which evoke the greatness of the sons of the sun. Cuzco is a city plentiful of historical monuments and relics and of myths and legends. Visiting Cuzco is an unforgettable experience that permits to unravel some of the mysteries of the Incas, because Cusco was the center, the navel of the Andean world.
Today, Cuzco, the archeological capital of Peru and the Americas is a city open to the world, welcoming its visitors who marvel at its unusual aspect, which integrates, in the same urban environment and with unique harmony pre-Colombian monuments such as the Korikancha (Temple of the Sun), the Ajlla Wasi, the Amaru Cancha (fence of the serpent), the Kiswar Kancha, etc. with gems of the “mestizaje” (mix of the Spanish and the native) such as the Cathedral, the Church and Convent of La Merced and the Temple of San Blas.
Cuzco is surrounded by impressive archeological remains such as the citadel of Machu Picchu, the Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the Ollantaytambo compound and picturesque towns such as Pisaq, Calca and Yucay, which still preserve the traditions of their ancestors.
Other places to explore in the intriguing city of Cuzco Peru include the Plaza de Armas. In Inca times it was not only the exact center of the empire but was twice as large as it is now. The plaza was surfaced with white sand mixed with shell, bits of gold, silver and coral. The church, La Compania, with its intricate interior, finely carved balconies and altars covered in gold leaf, was started in 1571 and took nearly 100 years to complete, in part due to the damage in the 1650 earthquake. A fine collection of art, which flourished from the 16th century through 18th centuries is found at the Museum of Religious Art on Calle Palacio. Once the palace of Roca Inca this now Moorish building has complicated carvings on its doors and balconies.