Most people arrive in Peru, just to visit Cuzco and the famous Machu Picchu only. Even though through my trip in Peru I have visited much nicer and less touristic places then here, the heritage of the ancient Inca culture is not to be missed.
Cuzco is the centre of Inca and ancient Andean history, which has been blended with Spanish character (from the invasion in 1532), and not to forget the tourist influence. Cuzco comes from the name QOSQ’O meaning navel of the earth, which was founded by the first inca Manco Capac. Throughout the years Cuzco has expanded with fine buildings and monuments after each generations of kings.
Just like the rest of Peru, tourism has allowed the history not to be forgotten with ruins and ornate cathedral being restored and small hamlets sharing and maintaining their traditions.
Cuzco is more than just Machu Picchu and the tourist area of San Blas in the centre. The surrounding area is known as the Sacred Valley with numerous Inca temples and Andean mountains can be seen.
The centre of Cuzco itself thrives on tourism, with the narrow cobblestones streets packed with vendors selling anything from souvenirs to photo opportunities with alpacas. However there are numerous sights to spend a couple of days visiting (whilst getting over the altitude sickness). Within the centre the alleys from the Plaza de Armas (formally known as Huacaypata) takes you upsome steep hills to the 4 quarters of the city to see the diverse range of colonial art, churches and museums. Like most major cities in Peru (Arequipa and Lima) a walking tour is offered to get the real history of Cuzco.
For shopping a trip to the San Blas for artisan craft can be found with expensive jewellery stores and clothes can be found. The central market (Marcado San Pedro) is a must see for everything from real tourist souvenirs to local foods such as guinea pig and fruit juices. If visiting on the weekend the true market for locals are found just outside the main tourist hub, which is great to see.