AND THE SACRED VALLEY
High in Peru's southern Andes, Cuzco was the former capital of the Inca's great empire. Today the "Archaeological Capital of America" combines great beauty and charm with a wealth of archaeological and architectural remains.
You can visit the great ruins of the Inca fortress at Sacsayhuaman, the Q'enko amphitheatre and the Koricancha Temple and many other sites throughout the city, which even today still bear witness to the Inca's remarkable architectural and engineering skills.
Cuzco's colonial heritage is also rich in fine churches -many of which are built on top of former Inca temples- such as the town's cathedral, the Church of La Compañia and La Merced Convent. The area around San Blas, now the base for many of Cuzco's fine artists and craftsmen, has remained unchanged for centuries.
Admire the recently opened Pre-Columbian Art Museum with a collection of 450 master pieces dating from 1250 B.C to.1532 A.D., selected among 45,000 objects located at the storages of the Larco Museum in Lima.
But of course, Cuzco is also a marvellous base for many possible excursions: along the course of the Urubamba river, through the Sacred Valley of the Incas, to the spectacular Inca fortress at Ollantaytambo or to the colourful mountain villages of Pisac and Chincheros with their ruins and famous Markets. Other beautiful and interesting villages near Cuzco include Andahuaylillas with its fine Colonial church and Piquillacta with its pre Inca ruins.
Altitude: 3,400 metres/10,500 feet above sea level
Population: 1,028,000 approx
Climate: Sunny days and cold nights (79º-38ºF/25º-3ºC) Rains between December and March.