The ancient capital of the Inca Empire was filled with palaces, plazas and churches by the Spanish conquistadores, which has earned it its nickname as the “Rome of America” and turned it into today’s principal tourist capital of Peru. What makes the Spanish architecture even more impressive is how it combines with the local architecture that dates back to before the Spaniards even arrived in the New World.
Here are our top picks for historic architecture you can’t miss when you visit Cusco, Peru:
- Coricancha – The “Golden Temple” was one of the most important temples during the Inca times. Here, you can see a unique blend of architecture, including the vestiges of the Inca temple that was mostly destroyed by the Spanish Conqusitadors who built the Santo Domingo Convent on top it.
- Sacsayhuaman – On the edge of the city (a relatively walkable distance from the city center), you can visit the largest Inca structure still existing to this day. Top Cusco half-day tours will undoubtably include a visit to this impressive example of Inca architecture.
- Twelve-Angled Stone – Right in the historic center of Cusco you’ll find this unique architectural artifact as part of a stone wall that used to be an Inca palace. Fitting in perfectly with the stones around it, the twelve-angled stone is often considered to be one of the best examples of the genius of Inca architecture.
- Cathedral of Cusco – You can’t miss this massive building in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. Its auxiliary church is one of the oldest examples of Spanish colonial architecture in the area dating back to the 1500s and built on the foundation of the Palace of Viracocha Inca.
And those are just the tip of the iceberg of must-see places in Cusco, Peru! There’s truly so much see in and around Cusco that it’s worth booking at least a couple of extra days in the area for a Cusco City Tour and for just exploring on your own.