History, Museums & Ruins

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September 10th 2011
Published: September 19th 2011
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Saturday September 10th
I have actually felt fairly non-touristy so far here in Cusco since I am actually working, but today I felt as touristy as it gets. Vivi and I started early to walk to town, buy the obnoxious ´tourist ticket´ that every tourist must buy to see the ruins (it includes the ruins around Cusco, ruins in the Sacred Valley, a few others, and then some museums in Cusco as well), and then visit as many museums as possible before our City Tour this afternoon. We went to the Popular Art Museum (just a bunch of art and sculptures made by people in the community), the Regional Historical Museum (my favorite of the day. It had history of Cusco, the Spaniards, Tupac Amaru, food, Pisco Sours, Garcilaso, and more. It was very interesting and had plenty of information in English), and the Contemporary Art Museum (pretty cool, but I´m not one to stare at a piece of art for an hour so it was a pretty fast walk through), all three of which were included in the tourist ticket. When we got to the Plaza de Armas there were tons of people, no cars, and some sort of ceremony going on. We managed to weave our way through the plaza to find the Inca Museum (not included in the ticket). It looked like it was a big ceremony celebrating all the military, police, security groups, city beautifiers, cultural groups, etc. from Cusco and its surrounding provinces. The Inca Museum was pretty interesting, there were a bunch of artifacts and information (most of it in spanish). They could have done a better job with the presentation, with more english, but it was still good. Back to the Plaza to eat lunch and watch the parade of the different security groups before heading off to join our group for the city tour.

The first stop was the huge cathedral in the main plaza which looks amazing, but costs 25 extra soles to get in as a tourist. Turns out you can get in for free if you go super early in the moring during mass, so Vivi and I decided to save some money and do that another day. So then we had another hour to wander around before we rejoined our group. With the group again, we walked to the Qoricancha temple (now a church but which has Inca ruins reserved inside) where we learned about the temples of the sun, moon, stars, and lightening. During Inca times the temple used to be the center of a huge system of holy sites and temples spreading out like rays of the sun from Cusco. Our bus took us up the hill to Sacsayhuaman (not sexy woman) which was probably a religious site but has three layers of outer walls for protection making people think it was a fortress. Supposedly the Incas first built Cusco in the shape of a puma with this site as the head. The site has HUGE stones that make up the outermost wall that must have taken hundreds of men to move, an incredible task. Sacsayhuamen ended up being my favorite ruin of the day. We also visited Tambomachay (a water temple), Pucapucara (but we were running a bit late so we didn´t get out of the car to wander around the ruins), and Qenqo (it was dark by the time we got there, but it was just a huge rock in which the Incas had hollowed out a passageway with an alter as a worship site). We got home late and it was a very full day, so we just went straight to sleep.


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