Colourful Peru

7 March, 2024

Beyond Machu Picchu

Nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, Cusco is a city steeped in history, culture, and art. While Machu Picchu rightfully garners much of the attention, Cusco offers a rich tapestry of artistic expression and cultural heritage that extends far beyond the iconic ruins. In this article, we delve into the vibrant art scene, historical landmarks, and cultural treasures that make Cusco a destination worth exploring beyond the famed Machu Picchu.

Exploring the Culture in Cusco

Iglesia de San Blas. Ciudad de Cusco.

Photo: Enrique Nordt / PROMPERÚ

Cusco has long been a hub of artistic expression, blending indigenous traditions with Spanish influences to create a unique cultural identity. Visitors can immerse themselves in this artistic heritage by exploring the city’s many galleries, workshops, and markets.

You can also read: Lima: Historic Centre and its monuments

Museo de Arte Precolombino (Pre-Columbian Art Museum):

Located in a beautifully restored colonial mansion, the Museo de Arte Precolombino showcases a stunning collection of pre-Columbian artifacts. From intricately crafted pottery to ceremonial textiles, the museum offers insight into the rich artistic traditions of the region’s indigenous cultures.

San Blas District:

Known as the artisan quarter of Cusco, the San Blas district is a labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets lined with workshops and galleries. Here, visitors can watch skilled artisans at work, creating everything from traditional textiles to contemporary paintings. The district is also home to numerous boutiques selling handmade crafts and souvenirs, making it the perfect place to pick up a unique memento of your time in Cusco.


Once the most important temple in the Inca Empire, Qorikancha is now home to the Convent of Santo Domingo and a fascinating museum showcasing the site’s history. While the exterior of the temple is impressive in its own right, it’s the intricate stonework and exquisite gold leaf decorations inside that truly showcase the artistic prowess of the Inca civilization.

Cultural Landmarks Beyond Machu Picchu:

Culture in Cusco

In addition to its artistic heritage, Cusco is also home to a wealth of historical landmarks that offer insight into the city’s rich cultural heritage.


Perched on a hill overlooking Cusco, the ruins of Sacsayhuamán are a testament to the engineering prowess of the Inca civilization. The site is best known for its massive stone walls, constructed from enormous boulders carefully cut and fitted together without mortar. Visitors can explore the ruins and marvel at the ingenuity of the Inca builders while enjoying panoramic views of the city below.

Plaza de Armas:

At the heart of Cusco lies the Plaza de Armas, a bustling square surrounded by colonial-era buildings and dominated by the imposing Cathedral of Santo Domingo. The plaza is a vibrant hub of activity, with locals and tourists alike gathering to soak in the atmosphere and admire the architecture. In the evenings, the plaza comes alive with street performers and vendors selling traditional snacks, providing a taste of Cusco’s lively cultural scene.

Inti Raymi Festival:

One of the most important festivals in the Inca calendar, Inti Raymi celebrates the winter solstice and the sun god Inti. Held annually in June, the festival features colorful processions, traditional music and dance performances, and elaborate reenactments of Inca rituals. Visitors to Cusco during Inti Raymi can witness this spectacular celebration of Andean culture and tradition firsthand, gaining a deeper understanding of the city’s cultural significance.

You may also like: How to adapt to the altitud in the Andean Mountains

While Machu Picchu may be the crown jewel of Peruvian tourism, Cusco offers a wealth of artistic and cultural treasures waiting to be discovered. From its vibrant art scene to its rich historical landmarks, the city provides a fascinating glimpse into Peru’s rich cultural heritage. Whether you’re exploring the galleries of San Blas or marveling at the ruins of Sacsayhuamán, a visit to Cusco promises to be an enriching experience that goes beyond the iconic wonders of Machu Picchu. So why not extend your Peru trip and immerse yourself in the art and culture of Cusco?

Are you planning your next trip to Peru?

Colourful Peru invites you to experience our region. We are committed to offer you the best options so you can live a Colourful journey. If you want to know more about our suggested journeys, do not hesitate to get in touch with us.



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