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Cusco Main Square

The “Plaza de Armas” or Main Square of Cusco is a visual treat for any visitor who sees it for the first time. Its buildings of colonial architecture have a whole story to tell, and you will surely love the activities that go on in the square.

Are you in for a walk? We’ll tell you all about it!

History of the Cusco Main Square

According to the chronicles of Inca Garcilazo de la Vega, Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo were the founders of the city of Cusco. It is said that the God Inti, Manco Cápac’s father, entrusted them with the great mission of starting a learning and teaching campaign with other people and thus form the Inca Empire.

The God Inti gave them a golden rod and told them that “they will form the Empire of the Incas where the rod sinks.” They traveled many miles until the rod suddenly sank as they passed through a swamp. This swamp is now known as the Plaza de Armas or Main Square of Cusco.

Cusco Main Square

Later, Inca Sinchi Roca, Manco Cápac’s successor, ordered the dewatering of the swamp to erect what would be the cultural, religious and administrative center of the Inca Empire. These works were completed by Emperor Pachacútec.

The Main Square in the period of the Incas

At the time of the Inca Empire, the main square of Cusco was one of the main meeting centers, which was divided in two:

  • Aucaypata, Huacaypata or Huacapata: this was the place that the Inca used for important meetings. It is also said that this section of the square was used as a gathering camp for battles.
  • Cusipata: this is the part that was on the other side of the Saphi River, which divided these two squares.

The Main Square in the colonial period

The Inca buildings were replaced by churches and colonial houses. For example, the Huayna Cápac palace was replaced by the Compañía de Jesús Church, the Cathedral replaced the Wiracocha palace, and the Acllawasi was replaced by the Santa Catalina convent.

The Plaza de Armas today

Cusco Main Square still maintains architecture from the Inca and colonial period, since, to this day, all the colonial constructions are preserved, since the Inca walls served as foundations for these constructions.

What to do in the Main Square of Cusco?

The Plaza de Armas is, of course, a tourist destination like many others. We can find a wide variety of restaurants, bars, nightclubs, museums, handicraft shops, fast food places and more.

Statue of Pachacútec in Cusco Main Square fountain

Throughout the year, very important and traditional Cusco festivals are celebrated, such as: Corpus Christi (no exact date, but it is usually in late May or early June) and the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun (June 24th).

In addition, you can find tourist services ranging from touring the square itself to the 7 Colors Mountain, the Humantay Lagoon, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, etc.

As you can see, the Cusco Main Square is important for each cultural period that it went through, always fulfilling some particular purpose: celebrations, meetings, trade, etc.

Do you want to learn more about the ancient capital of Tahuantinsuyo? Then supplement your cultural journey aboard the PeruRail Vistadome trainBuy your train tickets now!

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