Today I took a walk through Cusco.
Starting on Saphi street, which is the main avenue to head up towards Saqsayhuaman, the great fortress ruins that hover over the Cusco valley, I walked down a few blocks to arrive at the main Plaza de Armas of Cusco.
The air carries smelled of wood burning stoves, delicious restaurants, and maybe a hint of the eucalyptus from the mountainside nearby.
About halfway down, I passed a statue and water fountain featuring the Pachamama — essentially the Quechua translation for “Mother Earth” — where a couple of locals sat and talked.
The cobblestone streets were narrow, but not crowded. The buildings featured stonework on the bottom half and white stucco on the top. You could tell which stones were original Inca because they’re angled slightly inward, and the angles are accurate to the millimeter.
I rounded the corner and took in the great Cusco Cathedral which took 94 years to complete, as well as the Jesuit chapel, with it’s intricate stonework. All 4 sides of the plaza were propped up by stone archways, built in the 1600s.
I sat down on a bench and just look around. Andean women walked by in their native garb, children participated in a parade of folk dancing, a group of men were playing the sampoya flute, clouds floated high above the water fountain and statue in the center of the plaza.
While in Cusco, you must take a moment to sit down in the plaza and take it all in. The site of so much history and the gateway to future adventures, the Plaza de Armas of Cusco is the perfect place to nestle down and experience Andean culture.