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The Cathedral of Santo Domingo (not to be confused with the nearby Santo Domingo Church) is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cuzco.
Construction began on the Cathedral of Santo Domingo in 1559, and was completed in 1654. It was designed by Spanish architect and conquistador Juan Miguel de Veramendi. His design was in the Gothic-Renaissance style of architecture, but he also included some Baroque elements. Many stones from nearby Sacsayhuamán were used in the construction of the building.
The cathedral was built on the foundations of Kiswarkancha, the former Inca palace of Emperor Viracocha, which was destroyed during the conquest of Cuzco. The placement on the foundations of the former Inca palace was a deliberate act to symbolize the replacement of the native Inca religion with Christianity. However, many of the laborers who worked on the cathedral were Incas, and they got back at their Spanish conquerors by surreptitiously incorporating some of their religious imagery in the building, such as a carving of a jaguar on the cathedral doors.
Nowadays, the Cathedral is known for its solid silver altar and the María Angola Bell, the largest bell in South America that hangs in one of the cathedral's two towers. The cathedral also contains one of the finest collections of paintings from the Cusqueño school, including an interpretation of The Last Supper by Marcos Zapata which features cuy, or guinea pig, as the main dish. (Cuy is a specialty among the Quechua Indians who live in the high Andes of Peru).
Updated Aug 29, 2012
The Plaza de Armas of Iquitos is the center of social life in the city In the evenings, locals gather there to socialize, watch street entertainers, and buy snacks from vendors. On Sunday mornings, there is a flag-raising ceremony and a military parade. And throughout the year, many cultural, religious, and holiday celebrations are held in the square.
The Plaza de Armas of Iquitos is dominated by a tall obelisque which is a monument to soldiers from Iquitos who fought for Peru in the War of the Pacific in 1879.
The area immediately surrounding the plaza is one of the better neighborhoods in the city. The city's best hotels and restaurants face the square or are within a block or two of it. There is also a casino, internet cafes, a small museum, and the Iron House, the most popular attraction in Iquitos.
Many of the buildings surrounding the plaza were built by wealthy rubber barons during the rubber boom. Many are in the Italianate-style of architecture or are covered in colorful mosaic tiles.
Updated Aug 28, 2012
The town of Pisac is located at the east end of the Sacred Valley of the Incas at an altitude of 9,751 feet (2,972 meters). It is famous for its Indian market that takes place every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and draws hordes of tourists from nearby Cuzco. (See my tip on the Pisac Indian market for more information). The town also has many shops that cater to tourists, particularly those that offer locally made handicrafts.
The area around modern Pisac was first settled by the Incas who established a settlement, called Inca Pisac, on a nearby hillside. That settlement was destroyed by Francisco Pizzaro and his conquistadores in the 1530s. Its ruins are a popular tourist attraction today, but they are not as popular as those at Ollantaytambo or Machu Picchu.
The modern town of Pisac was established by Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in the 1570s, and it is now a typical Andean village. The only thing that really distinguishes Pisac from other similar Andean villages (aside from the fact that it can be overrun with tourists) is its huge, spreading pisonary tree in its central square. At Pisac's altitude, trees native to Peru are extremely rare, although the introduced eucalyptus trees survive well around the town.
Updated Aug 27, 2012
The village of Ollantaytambo is situated at the western end of the Sacred Valley of the Incas and is at an altitude of 9,160 feet (2,792 meters). The village was established by the Incas in the fifteenth century along the Patakancha River near its confluence with the Urubamba River. They called their settlement Llacta.
Because Ollantaytambo was built by the Incas, many of the town's buildings date from Inca times. Some of the townspeople live in traditional thatched houses that were constructed by the Incas, making these homes the oldest continuously inhabited houses in South America. And like in most towns in Latin America, the conquering Spanish built their own buildings. Ollantaytambo has a Plaza de Armas, or central square, which is surrounded by colonial buildings, as well as a colonial-style Roman Catholic church.
Ollantaytambo is a popular stop for tourists on their way to Machu Picchu. Attractions include the Ruins of Ollantaytambo (see my tip for more information), Pinkullyuna (an Inca grainery high on the steep mountainside overlooking the town), the colonial Plaza de Armas, and the traditional Inca homes. There are also several restaurants and hostels in town that cater to tourists.
Updated Aug 27, 2012
The Urubamba River Valley is more popularly known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It formed the heartland of the Inca Empire and was a key area of settlement. (Technically, however, the Sacred Valley of the Incas was not part of the Inca Empire because it was the personal property of the emperor himself). The east-west oriented valley lies between Cuzco and Machu Picchu, but properly encompasses only the steep-sided and rugged ravine between Pisac in the east and Ollantaytambo in the west.
The Incas considered the valley to be sacred because it was one of the empire's main sources of gold and other valuable minerals, and because its mild climate and fertile soil made it the most productive corn-growing region of the Inca Empire. The modern Quechua Indians still use the agricultural terraces carved into the steep mountainsides centuries ago by their Inca ancestors in order to use every bit of cultivable land. The valley was also important to the Incas because it forms a natural route to the tropical lowlands, which was a source of exotic fruits and other types food not available in the high Andes.
Nowadays, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is a popular place for tourists. During day trips out of Cuzco, they can experience the traditional Andean villages of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, Quechua Indian markets, and numerous archaeological sites that were once Inca villages and fortifications.
Updated Aug 26, 2012
The famous Pisac Indian market is held in the Plaza de Armas every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Local Quechua Indians bring in pottery and woven cloth to sell, as well as all kinds of locally grown produce, including fruit, vegetables, hundreds of different types of potatoes, and strange ears of corn with marble-sized kernels. Many people trade produce for such essentials as sugar, salt, flour, rice, noodles, tools, and medicine. The crops sold at the Pisac market are mainly bought by the locals and not by tourists. However, there are many souvenir shops around Pisac's square that cater mostly to tourists. They sell everything from T-shirts to postcards to locally produced arts and crafts. Most of the souvenir shops are found on Calle Bolognesi on the west side of the Plaza de Armas.
Updated Aug 25, 2012
If you are looking for adventure and dont tire easily then I will recommend the following-
Take the earliest bus up to the ruins- 5:30am (if you are really in shape, walk to the ruins following the well marked path that cuts through the bus path, but give yourself about 1:30 to get to the gate that opens at 6am) Or if you are like me, buy a one way ticket and walk back to town. You will do plenty of hiking once inside the ruins and you dont want to let fatigue set in when you are at the steep parts. Most people start with the ruins but i recommend going straight for the top of Waynapicchu (follow the signs to the right as you enter.) The path is steep, you dont need a large day pack! but bring plenty of water and small snacks. Walking sticks are not necessary just more to carry....
Written Dec 2, 2011
You can do some great inexpensive boat trips on Lake Titicaca. If on the Peruvian side, you can do day trips from Puno, or stay overnight on one of the lake's many islands. The floating islands of the Uros people are definitely worth a visit. If it all sounds very touristy, it is. But that doesn't mean it isn't a fantastic experience.
For some photos check out www.sites.google.com/site/somephotosofperu
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru
This museum holds the treasures found from the burial chullpas at Laguna de los Condores.
Note that there are over 200 mummies and a huge quantity of ceramics, textiles, wooden artefacts, and everyday objects found in this site which is near a beautiful lake in the jungle of this region.
What is interesting about the mummies is that many are wrapped in cloth and amusingly, some of them had faces drawn on the cloth (like using a black marker to draw a skeletonal funny face). I swear, it looks just like someone is pulling your leg.
To get to Lemeybamba to visit the museum is quite tricky. There is a microbus that leaves Chachapoyas in the afternoon 12-1pm (but there are lots of delays, as expected) which means you arrive at 4-5pm. The museum which is still a 5-min taxi ride away, closes at 5pm. So, if you hurry and arrive, you may be able to persuade the museum official to let you enter to visit it hurriedly.
The microbus back to Chachapoyas is an even greater mystery. When I booked it the evening before, various people told me the microbus would leave at 3am, 4am or 5am. So, whatever it is, just pack everything ready and try and be half-awake between these times and wait for the beeping of the horn when the microbus comes to collect you.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
this is the highlight of Peru. Dont hesitate or wait until a week before or a month before - these days you need to book it 5 or 6 months early!
It will be harder next year!
So you wanna do it. Then go now!
Get yourself on a tour for the best possiblilties or independantly for multi-millions - its your call!
Be fit and prepared, but any ages does apply. 16 to 80. If you think you are up to it. 4200m the highest point. 15kms the longest day. Hope that gives you a kind of idea.
See you in the Andes then!
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: try GAP or other companies for this kinda thrill
Phone: Check the web
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