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Information about Cusco, Peru
- A view of Cuzco
- The Plaza de Armas
The ancient city Cusco or Cuzco was founded over 900 years ago and would become the thriving capital of the Incan Empire. Tucked within the breathtaking scenery of the Peruvian mountains (in the same region as the Incan trail and the fascinating ruins of Machu Piccu), Cusco is an ideal place to begin exploring the wonders of Peru. Peruvians and visitors generally agree that its rich history and special blend of Incan and Spanish colonial architectural features make this the country's most impressive city.
As Cusco sits 3350 metres above sea level, days here can get chilly and nights are often cold, which means you may want to head to one of the city's many markets to pick up some colorful indigenous textiles or unique wool sweaters to stay warm.
Take a pleasant walk around town and you'll discover churches and convents next to colonial-style buildings constructed over stone Incan temples. Relics of the region's intriguing past abound, along with reminders of its modern allure. For anyone hoping to gain an insightful overview of Peruvian culture and history, Cusco is the perfect destination for learning Spanish.
The festival of Inti Raymi, celebrated yearly in Cusco on the 24th of June, is Latin America's second largest festival, outsized only by Rio's carnaval. It was also the most important time of year during the age of the Incan Empire, as the tradition honors Incan god of the sun Inti and symbolises his sacred relationship with his children and the human family. The Spanish prohibited the festival during the Spanish conquest, and it would not be reintroduced until the 20th century.
The 24th of June also coincides with the winter solstice, New Year's Day according to the sun calandar. Modern scientists place the date of the solstice three days earlier, however a sundial called Pacha Unachaq which the Incas used, indicated that the sun remained a few days in the same position until it finally rose on the day of Inti Raymi. Today, participants gather in the early hours of Inti Raymi at a central square in Cusco, anxiously anticipating Inti's arrival. The appearance of the sun, rising in all its golden splendour, kicks off the festivities; lively activities in the streets and plazas, music and theatre performances in Quechua, the language of the Incas.