Sunday, October 21, 2007

Cuzco: Ancient Capital of the Incas

After spending a couple days in Lima, we left for Cuzco, which may be the "gringo" capital of South America given that it stands at the head of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and it is the starting point from which many begin their trek along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, including yours truly.

Of the two cities I visited, I liked Cuzco best. Lima was too big and crowded with her 8,000,000 inhabitants - Cuzco seemed far more friendly and quaint - but that's probably because it's so touristy. My bias may also be due to the fact that we spent a couple extra days here after our 4-day hike of the trail - the skies were blue, the temperatures warm and we explored at a leisurely pace, which was a welcome change from having spent the last few days trying to keep up on the trail.

Plaza de Armas with The Cathedral in the background

One of many streets with their smooth, Incan-made walls that remain to this day

We spent part of our first full day visiting Santo Domingo (below), the Catholic church built on the remains of what was once the centre of Inca society,The Golden Palace and Temple of the Sun.

The central courtyard of Santo Domingo

And finally, on our way up to the San Blas district, where you'll find a concentration of little shops that sell local carvings, paintings and ceramics, as well as many affordable restaurants:

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