It’s only right that a city so steeped in mythology should be stationed so high in the world. Cusco is a mighty 11,200 feet above sea level in the Peruvian Andes. From Monasterio or Palacio Nazarenas, both Belmond hotels, you’ll have a front-row seat to the city action.
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Colour is everything here, from the cascading red-tiled roofs in Cusco to the green and gold of its surrounding mountains and vast blue skies. Whitewashed walls line the narrow cobbled streets in the picturesque Barrio de San Blas artists’ quarter, beckoning adventure. Colorful balconies and sweet-smelling geraniums greet you at every turn. Climb the narrow cobbled streets and get a unique insight into Peruvian art in this pretty, creative district.
It can feel like the whole city has come to buy and sell at Cusco's huge market. Come and join the colourful crowd. Marvel at the textiles, made using traditional weaving techniques. The market is a foodie paradise—our guests can join our chef to peruse the towering arrangements of exotic fruits and vegetables. Or you can pick up maca, the infamous Peruvian aphrodisiac.
This splendid Baroque church was built by the Jesuits with the intention of exceeding the magnificence of the cathedral next door. Tour the spectacular nave, which houses an altar decorated with gold leaf and wreathed columns. Located in Cusco’s bustling centre in the Plaza de Armas, it’s a stone’s throw from Monasterio and Palacio Nazarenas.
For those seeking history, this ancient city is without rival. Cusco was part of the Incan Empire (dating back to the 13th century) before being invaded by the Spanish in 1533. Among the city’s most popular sights is the famous Incan Stone of Twelve Angles, which is a part of a wall at the palace of the Archbishop of Cusco.
Simple pleasures are easily found in this hospitable city. Cusco is teeming with great little cafés, like the hip ice-cream parlour Qucharitas, and the popular Sepia Club Café. The coffee here is supremely good, since Peru is the fifth largest producer of Arabica beans. Cacao is grown here in abundance, too; try your hand at making your own chocolate at Choco Museo.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path insight into the city, visit Planetarium Cusco, hidden in the hills behind the towering fortress Sacsayhuaman. Astronomy was an essential part of Incan agriculture, so Cusco was constructed in such a way that it would point to specific stars. On a clear night you'll see constellations galore or maybe even a passing space-station. All you have to do is take it all in.
Hiram Bingham, A Belmond Train, was named for the American explorer who rediscovered Machu Picchu in 1911. It is a singularly beautiful way to traverse the Sacred Valley and set foot on the ancient site. You’ll be transported, in every sense. Staying at Monasterio or Palacio Nazarenas, you’ll board the train’s vintage-style carriages in the morning for a hearty brunch en route. After a guided tour around the sacred site, you'll return to the city, doubtless wide-eyed and enchanted.
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