Plaza de Armas picture
mckaysavage/Flickr

Key Info

Portal de Comercio, Historic Center

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.9scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.5Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

The history of the Plaza de Armas stretches back all the way to the Inca Empire when it was called Huacaypata or Aucaypata. The massive square (originally twice its current size) was built as a venue for festivals and ceremonies in ancient times.

According to legend, this plaza once marked the exact center of the Inca Empire, earning Cusco the nickname "the navel of the world." After Spanish conquistadors conquered the city in the early 1500s, they erected two churches on the either sides of the square – Iglesia de La Compañía de Jesús and La Catedral – where the former Incan palace once stood.

Today, the plaza contains landmarks significant to both the Andean and Spanish history, and still functions as the historic heart of the city. Recent visitors to the square say you'll find Peruvian dancing, music and plenty of people watching. Buzzing with activity all day and night, most of the centrally located hotels, restaurants and shops are just off the square. 

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More Best Things To Do in Cusco

Machu Picchu
La Catedral
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 8
#2 Machu Picchu

It's hard to believe this iconic "lost city of the Incas" was untouched during the Spanish conquest. The Incas cleverly obscured these 12 acres of temples, aqueducts and gardens from the Spaniards, keeping their sacred city untouched for hundreds of years.

It's difficult to know where to start. First things first: Pick up a booklet and a map as signage at the site is minimal. Then, start your journey at the House of the Terrace Caretaker and Funeral Rock, a 20-minute walk from Machu Picchu's entrance.

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Michael Lawenko Dela Paz/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Cusco »

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