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Cusco's Squares and Churches

Cusco's Squares and Churches
The main Square of Cuzco

known in Inka times as Huacaypata (Warrior’s Plaza) was an important ceremonial site where the Inca kings Pachacútec, Sinchi Roca, Viracocha, Túpac Yupanqui and Huayna Cápac built their royal palaces. It was also where the Inti Raymi Festival (Sun Festival) was celebrated each year and where Francisco Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cuzco. Stone arches were constructed along with many other buildings.

Basilica Cathedral

Located in the main square, this is a Catholic temple built upon Inca Viracocha’s palace. Built in 1560 by the Spanish architect Juan Veramendi and finalised by master Juan Correa. It is a marvelous example of colonial architecture in the Baroque style, with 10 chapels, where "El Señor de los Temblores" the patron of Cusco, (The Lord of the Tremors) is venerated. The biggest altar is covered with pure silver sheets, the choir is carved and in front of the altar there is a seat in double array that is a masterpiece of wood carving. There is also a painting collection with more than 400 canvases. The custody is an impressive goldsmith masterpiece, made of solid gold of 27.7 Kg that measures 120 cm in height, with incursions of 331 pearls, 263 diamonds, 221 emeralds, 89 amethysts, 43 topazes, 5 sapphires and 1 agate.

Iglesia de la Compañia (Church of the Company)

Also located on the Main Square, this is a Jesuit colonial temple, built on the palace of Amarucancha of Huayna Cápac in 1571, and one of the most beautiful in Cusco. It possesses a central nave with 6 lateral underground chapels with many labyrinths and secret passages in which remarkable characters of the conquest and Spanish colony were buried. The temple is adorned with large canvases and sculptures carved in wood. It was reconstructed in 1651.

Iglesia de la Merced and Convent

The third founded in Peru in 1536, and is simply a colonial architectural monument, of beautiful golden altarpieces, plateresque pulpit and a choir that constitutes a joinery masterpiece. The temple is adorned with beautiful canvases of Escuela Cusqueña. Their most valuable treasure of unimaginable value is a piece of gold, weighing 22 kg. and measuring 1.3 meters high, that contains 2 enormous pearls and 615smaller pieces, 1581 diamonds, in addition to emeralds, rubies and topazes. In the basement of the church are the remains of the Spanish conquerors Diego de Almagro, Almagro El Mozo (Almagro the younger), and Gonzalo Pizarro. It is located on Mantas Street, close to the Main Square.

Convento e Iglesia de Santa Catalina (Convent and Church of Santa Catalina)

The current convent was reconstructed in 1653 and the church dates from 1669. Built where the Acllahuasi (Temple of the virgins) was located, it now possesses a museum and is located on the corner of Santa Catalina street, Angosta street and Loreto street

The Acllahuasi (Quechua house of the chosen ones)

Templo de las Vírgenes" (Temple of the Virgins) was the Inca location in which the Acllas (women chosen by their lineage and beauty, and offered as eternal wives of the sungod Inti) lived perpetually. In this temple, the Coya (queen), Ñustas (princesses) and the Inca king could only enter. Between 500 and 1000 Acllas lived there permanently.

Monasterio de San Antonio Abad (Monastery San Antonio de Abad)

Built in the XVII century, this monastery has a beautiful chapel with an altar decorated with gold sheets, and valuable objects of colonial art. It is now a hotel. Located at Palacio Street No. 136, in front of the little plaza of the Nazarenas.

Qoricancha (In Quechua, the gold enclosure)

This was the main Inca temple, the Temple of Inti (the supreme god - the sun), and is a masterpiece of Inca architecture; built in blocks of carved granite with smelted gold in the junctures of the blocks. Inside the temple was a garden in which the trees, birds, animals, etc. were represented in gold. The temple was surrounded with a gold cornice and all the walls covered in gold plates. In the sanctuary, a great disk of gold existed (Punchau) that represented Inti, the mummies of the Inca kings until Huayna Cápac (the12th king), and were all seated on gold seats and adorned with jewels.
Annexes to the Qoricancha, were the temples of "Quilla" (moon), Illapa (ray), the stars, Chuychu and Uíllac Umu's lodgings (supreme priest). At the arrival of the Spanish conquerors it was plundered and it almost destroyed to banish the adoration to Inti. Over it, the catholic temple (Santo Domingo) was built.
All the Inca roads of the Tahuantisuyo converged at the Qoricancha, so it was also the central point of the administrative division of the empire, where the four "suyos" began and converged. An archaeological museum located on Santo Domingo Street is located n front of the little plaza of Santo Domingo.

Iglesia de San Blas (Church of San Blas)

A Colonial Catholic temple built in 1562, has a pulpit that constitutes a wooden carved jewel of incalculable value in which are represented saints' images and angels. Juan Tuirupata, Luis Montes and Diego of Aryan dispute the creation. This temple is located in San Blas's neighbourhood, of narrow and high streets, a beautiful little plaza. In this district, numerous artists and artisans reside in addition to the workshops of famous artisans such as the families of Mendivil, Olave and Mérida.

Palacio Arzobispal (The Archbishop's Palace)

Located on Herrajes Street, this is a beautiful colonial building in which the highlights are the front façade and wonderful balconies. Located close to the Museum of Religious Art which houses an exhibition of religious art pieces from the colonial period. Built on the real palace of the Inca Sinchi Roca, in one of the megalithic walls, on the lateral side, on Hatun Rumiyoc Street, is located the famous "stone of the 12 angles", a cut and carved stone block that has 12 vertexes assembled in perfect form.

Casa del Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (House of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega)

The headquarters of the Regional Historical Museum of Cusco since 1984, with exhibition of pictorial works of the School of Cuzco. Inca Garcilaso (1539-1616) was the son of the Spanish conqueror Sebastián Garcilaso de la Vega and a royal Inca princess, the Palla Isabel Chimpu Ocllo. He was a columnist of the Spanish conquest, and the first writer in America. His works included "Comentarios Reales de los Incas" (The Real Comments of the Incas), and is the testimony of the exploitation and misfortunes of his homeland, personal conflicts and the narration and exaltation of the Tahuantisuyo, and aching justification of the Spanish conquest. During his childhood he lived in this house. It is located on the corner Garcilaso Street and Heladeros Street.

Casa de los Cuatro Bustos (The Four Busts)

A beautiful large colonial house that belonged to the Pizarro brothers, the Spanish conquerors. On its front it shows four busts and a shield. It is now a hotel and is located on San Agustín Street Nº 400. Inside the historical Center of Cuzco, it is also recommended that you visit the colonial houses of the Marquises San Juan de Buenavista y Rocafuerte, house of the Counts of Cabrera, house of Concha, house of the Counts of Peralta, house of the Marquis of Picoaga, and house of the Marquises of Valleumbroso.

Monumento al Inca Pachacutec (Monument to the Inca Pachacutec)

monument built in honour of one of the most revered Incas in the Tahuantisuyoo.


Built in the last few years, and is a likeness to those that existed in the Inca City of Cusco. They are sources or spouts of water, where the water was venerated. The most important are Pumaqchupan (on the corner of El Sol and Tullumayo Streets), Pumacpampa (Santa Catalina Street) and San Blas's neighbourhood.

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