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Exploring Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru: Everything you Need to Know

Plaza de Armas Important Details:

  • Address: Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru (Google Maps)
  • Hours of Operation: Open 24/7
  • Cost of Entrance: Free
  • Recommended Time to Spend: 1-2 hours
  • How to Arrive: Walking, taxi, or local transportation
  • Distance from Cusco Airport: Approximately 6.5 km (4 miles) and takes ~20 minutes (Google Maps Route)
  • Ideal Months to Visit: May to September for dry weather
  • Ideal Time of Day to Visit: Morning or late afternoon

Getting to Plaza de Armas

Arriving at the enchanting Plaza de Armas in Cusco is very easy. Located in the heart of the city, it’s easily accessible by walking from most parts of the historic center. If you’re coming from the airport, it’s just a short drive away, allowing you to dive into the historical charm of the plaza without delay.

The History of Plaza de Armas in Cusco

Steeped in history, Plaza de Armas has been a central hub for centuries. Originally known as Huacaypata, it was the epicenter of the Inca capital of Cusco, serving as a place of ceremonies and gatherings. After the Spanish conquest, many significant buildings were constructed around the plaza, blending Inca and colonial architecture. The Cathedral, built on the site of an Inca palace, stands as a testament to this fusion of cultures.

When Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro captured Cusco in 1533, they recognized the strategic and symbolic importance of Huacaypata. The Spanish reimagined the square to reflect their dominance, constructing colonial-style buildings, including the imposing Cusco Cathedral and the Church of La Compañía. This marked the beginning of the square’s transformation into the Plaza de Armas seen today.

The Cusco Cathedral was erected on the site of the Inca palace of Viracocha. Its construction spanned over a century, blending intricate Spanish Renaissance and Baroque styles. The Cathedral’s stunning facade, elaborate altars, and religious artworks tell a tale of artistic fusion and spiritual devotion.

What to Do at Plaza de Armas in Cusco

As you step onto the cobblestone streets of Plaza de Armas, you’ll be greeted by a captivating blend of historical sites, vibrant markets, and lively cafes. Marvel at the grandeur of the Cathedral, explore the Qorikancha temple ruins, and immerse yourself in the local culture by visiting the artisan markets surrounding the plaza. Be sure to find a cozy spot on a bench, sip on a cup of coca tea, and soak in the vibrant energy of this bustling square.

Plaza de Armas Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Is Plaza de Armas Safe?

Yes, Plaza de Armas is generally safe for travelers. However, like any popular tourist destination, it’s advisable to stay vigilant and keep an eye on your belongings.

Can You Walk There from Other Tourist Attractions in Cusco?

Absolutely! Many of Cusco’s attractions are within walking distance of Plaza de Armas, making it a convenient starting point for your explorations.

Why is Plaza de Armas Considered a Noteworthy Experience in Cusco?

Plaza de Armas encapsulates the rich history and cultural tapestry of Cusco. The blend of ancient Inca structures and colonial architecture, coupled with the vibrant local scene, creates an unparalleled experience that embodies the essence of the city.

What Are A Few Popular Restaurants Around Plaza de Armas?

Indulge your taste buds at renowned eateries like “Cicciolina” for upscale Peruvian cuisine or “Jack’s Café” for a cozy brunch experience. The surrounding streets are adorned with restaurants catering to various palates.

What Are Common Scams to Watch Out for in Plaza de Armas?

  • Artisan Market Overpricing: At the artisan markets around Plaza de Armas, some vendors might overcharge unsuspecting tourists for their goods. It’s a good idea to have a general sense of the prices for local crafts and negotiate politely if necessary. 
  • “Free” Offers with Hidden Costs: Beware of individuals offering seemingly free services, such as taking a photo with a dressed-up llama or offering a blessing from a local shaman. These encounters often come with hidden costs that can catch you off guard. If you’re interested, clarify the terms and costs upfront.
  • Unsolicited Tour Guides: While some genuine tour guides offer their services around the plaza, be cautious of individuals who approach you aggressively and insist on guiding you. Stick to reputable tour agencies and licensed guides to ensure a reliable and safe experience.
  • Fake Police Officers: Scammers may impersonate police officers and ask to see your identification or belongings under the pretext of security checks. Always ask to see official identification and don’t hand over your valuables.
  • Misleading Currency Exchange Rates: When exchanging money, use reputable currency exchange bureaus or banks to avoid falling victim to misleading rates offered by street vendors. Double-check the conversion rates and calculate the amount you should receive.
  • Distraction Techniques: Scammers might work in pairs or groups to create distractions, such as spilling a drink on you or causing a commotion, while an accomplice tries to snatch your belongings. Stay vigilant and keep your belongings secure.

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