Peru and the Galapagos – 7

Cuzco afternoon tour

Our afternoon in Cuzco was so busy that I hope to do it justice.

We started the afternoon tour in the Plaza de Armas and first went into the Church at the left of the Cathedral to gather with our group and met our guide. It also had a beautiful alter.



The Cathedral does not allow pictures by tourists but is filled with 17th century painting, carvings and wooden and silver alters and a beautiful carved choir.  One of the most famous items is the Last Supper painted by Marcos Zapata which show ‘cuy’ as the main course.  It also houses the oldest painting in Cuzco which depicts the city during the great earthquake of 1650. We entered the Cathedral with nice weather and came out to a rain downpour.  We got to the bus and went south to Koricancha.

Koricancha or Qoricancha or Qorickancha

Koricancha  area is believed to be the most important temple area of the Inca Empire.  It is all within the  Santa Domingo Church and Convent area. Koricancha  (Temple of the Sun, Rainbow Temple, Golden Courtyard).  This is a very unusual exhibit as the Inca Sun Temple was used as a foundation for the Santo Domingo Church and Convent.  The Inca Temples are within the walls of the church and convent.

Rounded Sun Temple with Church above
Closeup of Sun Temple Stones


The large courtyard within the church walls
Another view of courtyard with bell tower

Along these covered walkways are paintings.  Within the building are Inca Temples that have withstood earthquakes and early attempts to dismantle the walls so that the stones could be used for other buildings. The stones are so smooth and tightly fitted it is amazing to see.


Inside the arched walls
Inca model of the universe
Images that the Inca’s saw in the night sky

Various temple areas, note the smooth walls, niches and windows that line up.

Mutiple room temple
Windows that line up perfectly
Close up of windows
Stone niches for holding decorations
Stones carved for various uses
Corner within one room
Sun Temple alter space
Model of the entire area which would encompass many blocks now
Looking out from near the Sun Temple, notice the stones in the green area
Looking back at the grounds

Sacsayhuaman, pronounced almost like ‘sexy woman’

Next we were off to Sacsayhuaman, a large royal fortress area for Inca royalty in Cuzco which is still being excavated.  Huge stones that create a zigzag wall were to protect the Inca city for royalty built on top of the hill. Also the pattern is said to represent the teeth of the puma. We had just about 45 minutes to explore this area so we mostly saw the walls and view of Cuzco.

View to the city of Cuzco from the ruins
The beautiful plateau just beyond the main ruins


Walking up to the site and looking across to new excavation areas
Entry area before the large walls
Look carefully and the zigzag form shows
Large stones, intricate layout
Vicki and Bob along the wall
The largest stone found so far at this site, over 11 tons
More details of the walls
Part of the higher city above the zigzag walls


After this tour, we got back on the bus and went to Kenko sanctuary. This is an area where animal sacrifices were made to the gods.

Kenko area
Alter inside the rock temple


Then to Tambomachay, the actual start of the Inca trail from Cuzco city with cascading water fountains and a water temple.  This temple is thought to be the first stop for becoming pure on the way to Machu Picchu.  We had a very busy day, Tambomachay was uphill and ended at 13,200 feet. I made it! But, we were so high to start it was only about a 15 min walk up!

Looking up at the temple ruins
Bob in front of one fountain
View of the fountains

We made our way back to Cuzco about 6:30 pm and had dinner reservations for 7 pm.  So it was a brief rest and then off to Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse for the most amazing dinner of our trip.

After dinner, it was goodnight Cuzco as we had a 7 am flight to Guayaquil the next morning!


We could have used one more day here.  We missed the big market.  Also, we think it would have been better to do the tour in the morning since it was over 4 hours and had the afternoon to walk around.  Then on the next day go to the market and spend time at the Inca Museum and or the Archiepiscopal Museum.  We would take an evening flight to Guayaquil as we really didn’t need a full day there.

I’m listing a few links that may help you plan your stay in Cuzco:

Twenty things to do in Cuzco
Weird things at the Cuzco Market

Next:  Getting to the Galapagos


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