Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Peru, Day 6: Cusco Walking Tour

We were only in Cusco briefly at the beginning of our trip, so after two days at Machu Picchu we were excited to explore more of the city.  Cusco is actually at a higher elevation than Machu Picchu, so it was strategic to spend time there towards the end of our journey.

After waking up at our adorable boutique hotel Casa San Blas Boutique, we walked up the hill with our guide to the Plazoleta de San Blas where we had our very first lunch in-country.  It was Holy Thursday at the time, so the churches were packed with people as schools and officers were closed.

Iglesia de San Blas
We toured the Iglesia de San Blas, a Catholic church circa the 1500s.  Like many churches from the time, it was built on top of a former Incan religious site.  While the church is small, it has intricate woodworking, beautiful paintings, a one-of-a-kind pulpit, and other decorative features that are truly beautiful.  Our guide explained to us that the Spaniards had art "schools" (perhaps more like sweatshops, depending on the situation) where Peruvian/Andean artists were trained in European styles.  These artists were responsible for the art in the churches, though the pieces are largely uncredited.

After the church, we walked down to the main Plaza de Armas, to see the beautiful square and its churches and university.

Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, the Jesuit Church



We walked from there to the busy Mercado Central de San Pedro, a bustling market where you can get fresh foods and other eats.  It was as packed with locals more than tourists, doing their daily market shopping.  It was awesome to see the piles of caviar, meats, and special Easter pastries.

Walking towards the market

Iglesia de San Pedro, near the market

Mercado Central de San Pedro

I must mention how safe I felt in Cusco.  I did wear my camera around my neck and my bag slung in front of me in the crowded areas.  We saw lots of policemen around, and even a soccer "parade" of fans marching through with security to help them cross safely.  It was so culturally rich, and the restaurants were tasty to boot.  We really enjoyed the city, and I would have spent another day there if I could.

Catedral at Night

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