After reading my last posts, you will know that I had an incredible visit to Peru with Yampu Tours. We explored the cities of Lima and Cusco as well as ancient archaeological sites like the famous Machu Picchu and much more.
Thank God, Yampu always offers local guides so that we can really get to know this beautiful country through the eyes of the locals. Although we only had 24 hours to explore Cusco, thanks to their guidance and expertise, we experienced the best of the city’s history and cuisine.
Santo Domingo Monastery – Coricancha Temple:
Our private tour of charming Cusco started with a visit to the church and monastery of Santo Domingo. Here we learned that this city was the capital of the Inca Empire. The construction of the church started in the mid-16th century and I admired the Renaissance Baroque architecture in the entire complex.
Santo Domingo was built over the Coricancha Temple, one of the most sacred and important buildings in the entire Inca Empire. The name means “Temple of the Sun”, so it is not surprising that they are dedicated to worshiping the sun. Our guide told us that ancient chronicles say that the temple was once covered with gold leaf and filled with golden representations of nature.
Plaza de Armas:
Plaza de Armas is the lively main square in Cusco. Here we took photos and explored the wide stone paths, colonial arcades, beautiful gardens and the central fountain. This is surely the colonial center of the city.
We learned that the Plaza de Armas was actually built on the remains of an important Inca hangout. Our local guide informed us that the current place keeps the spirit of a fallen empire alive. The old Inca square was twice the size of today’s square. Regular meditation ceremonies were carried out here by Inca nobles. While most of the original square has been lost, there are still some carved Inca walls that have been preserved as foundations.
One of the landmarks of the Plaza de Armas is the Cathedral of Cusco. This imposing monument is definitely a must when you are in the city. Cusco Cathedral, also known as the Basilica of the Assumption, was opened in 1654 after around 100 years of construction. The architectural styles are a combination of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance.
You can admire the architecture even more from the inside, where you will also find fascinating archaeological relics and artifacts. In 1983 the cathedral was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Yampu Tours organizes all of our accommodations and has definitely not disappointed you with Novotel Cusco. Although we only explored Cusco for one day, we stayed here for a few nights to explore the area as well. With its colonial architecture and modern guest rooms with all modern amenities such as wooden floors, cable TV, panoramic windows and much more, you can enjoy the best of both worlds here.
You are in a perfect location at the Novotel Cusco, less than a 10-minute walk from the Plaza de Armas. On arrival we were given coca leaves to help with altitude sickness. You can either chew it or enjoy it with tea. This is crucial as the height of Cusco is approximately 3,400 meters above sea level. So if you are not careful, you can easily develop altitude sickness. Along with the coca leaves, our yampu guide also suggested that we should rest at least a few hours after our arrival to avoid feeling sick, which was certainly helpful.
To make it easier for us on our first evening, we ate dinner at the Novotel in the La Cave 365 restaurant. Both international and Peruvian cuisine is served here. Entertaining activities at the hotel include demonstrations at the bar on how to make your own Pisco Sour cocktails or the Andean herbal tea.
Speaking of food, thanks to the excellent suggestions of our Yampu guide, we enjoyed a variety of Peruvian dishes in Cusco.
Calle del Medio Cocina Peruana:
Delicious Peruvian specialties await you on Calle del Medio Cocina Peruana. I started with a fresh quinoa salad and Andean root soup. This hearty homemade soup consists of Peruvian chilies, seasonal roots, broad beans, milk and a poached egg. While my husband ordered a marinated alpaca fillet with mushroom sauce, I loved the chicken pachamanquero. This was a fried chicken drumstick fillet with Peruvian mashed potatoes and sauteed vegetables with pachamanca herbs.
Another great place to have dinner is the Tunupa Restaurant in the heart of Cusco. Here we enjoyed an evening view of the Plaza de Armas and the beautiful surroundings. They offered us a buffet with an exotic fusion of flavors. We also enjoyed live music with our meal.
I would also recommend having lunch at Pachapapa. Here we had a 3 course meal outdoors while listening to live music too!
Thanks to Yampu Tours, I made the most of my time in beautiful Cusco. I loved how central we were and enjoyed enjoying the local Peruvian cuisine. If you love history and architecture, this is definitely a city not to be missed when visiting Peru!
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