Cusco Main Square
The tourist and commercial center of the city of Cusco is in its Main Square, one of the largest in Peru. It is located in front of important temples such as the Cathedral or the Church of the Company of Jesus. Its historical foundation dates from 1535, when the Incas built the so-called Huacaypata. In total ten streets converge to the square. In these are the main craft shops, restaurants, bars and tourist hotels. It is an unmissable place when visiting Cuzco.
All about the Main Square of Cusco
The historic Main Square of Cusco
Cusco’s Main Square is the center of tourism in the ‘Archaeological Capital of America’.
It is located in the heart of the historic center of Cusco, surrounded by historic temples such as the Cathedral or the Church of the Company of Jesus.
During the Inca period, the Main Square was part of Huacaypata, the main square of Cusco, the capital of Tahuantinsuyo.
The chronicles say that the Huacaypata was a swamp, which was also crossed by the Saphy River. The Incas channeled the waters of the river, dried up the swamp and transformed the place in the center into a huge area (up to five times larger than the current square) where the most important cultural and urban ceremonies were held.
Today the Main Square is the center of tourism in Cusco. Around it there are different types of tourist businesses such as cafes, restaurants, bars, discos, craft shops, jewelry stores and hotels.
Every day it is visited by thousands of tourists from different parts of the world. The Main Square covers an area of 28,728 square meters. In the center there is a statue of an Inca, known as the ‘Monument to the Inca’.
For all this, visiting Cusco and not visiting its Main Square is like not having gone.
The Main Square of Cusco is located in the heart of the historic center of the city, right in front of the Cathedral and the colonial church of the Company of Jesus.
The Main Square is located at an altitude of approximately 3,399 meters above sea level.
How to get there?
You can get to the Main Square of Cusco in the following ways:
- On foot – From any point in the historic center of Cusco you can reach the Main Square on foot. What’s more, most tourist hotels are located a few steps from this place. Any citizen of Cusco can give you the correct directions to get there easily. The walk is safe!
- By public transport – From any point in the city of Cusco you can reach the vicinity of the Main Square by public transport. The nearest whereabouts are on ‘Maruri’ street, located just 400 meters away. The most popular companies that take there are: Los rapidos, Batman, León de San Jerónimo, etc. The cost of the ticket is 1 Peruvian sol.
- By taxi – From any part of the city of Cusco you can take a taxi to the Main Square. Prices are negotiable with the taxi driver, depending on the distance of the journey. For example, a taxi ride from the Cusco airport to the Main Square costs between 15 and 8 Peruvian soles.
History of the Main Square of Cusco
The original name of Cusco’s Main Square was Huacaypata, a Quechua word meaning ‘Place of Weeping’. The Cusco historian Victor Angles explains that the name is due to the meditation ceremonies of the Incas, which ended in crying.
The construction of Huacaypata dates from the time of the Inca Sinchi Roca who ordered the drying of the swamp that covered the area as well as the channeling of the Saphy River that, until today, circulates under the Main Square.
The Huacaypata covered an area of up to five times the current Main Square of Cusco. There the Incas performed important religious and cultural ceremonies.
When the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century, Huacaypata was reduced to its current shape. The Inca temples and palaces were destroyed and colonial religious temples were built in their place, such as: the Cathedral and the Church of the Company of Jesus.
An important historical event was the torture of the Cusco indigenous leader Túpac Amaru II in 1781.
Today the Main Square is the center of tourism in Cusco. Around it there are cafes, bars, restaurants, discos, tourist agencies, craft shops and more. It is one of the largest, most historic and most beautiful squares in Peru.
Activities you can do in the Main Square
These are some activities that you can do in the Main Square of Cusco:
- Restaurants – Around the Main Square of Cusco there are restaurants of various types, from simple menus to luxurious gourmet menu services. All offer the best of Peruvian gastronomy such as the acclaimed ceviche.
- Handicraft shops – The handicraft shops in the galleries near the Main Square of Cusco offer poles, jewelry (silver and even gold), clothing (alpaca and baby alpaca ) and more. All with Andean and Inca themes.
- Visit to the Cathedral – The Cathedral of Cusco is the most important colonial temple in the city. It is located right in front of the Main Square. It was built between 1560 and 1654. For this they used the stones of Sacsayhuaman. To one side of the Cathedral is the colonial church of the Company of Jesus.
More information about the Main Square
The Main Square of Cusco has green areas of great beauty where Inca stones can also be seen. On one of its sides is a structure in honor of the Peruvian hero Túpac Amaru II.
In the Main Square there is an ambulatory trade in handicrafts, jewelry, rehydrating drinks, cigarettes, snacks and even various tourist packages.
The square adjoins several streets of Cusco such as: Triunfo street, Santa Catalina Angosta street, Loreto street, Mantas street, Del Medio street, Espaderos street, Plateros street, Procuradores street, Suecia street and Cuesta del Almirante street.
Tips for your visit
Cusco’s Main Square is one of the safest spots in the city. The place is monitored 24 hours a day.
In the afternoons (from 5 pm) and at night the Main Square of Cusco looks more crowded with tourists.
A few steps from the Main Square you can visit other Inca constructions such as the Stone of the 12 Angles or the Cusicancha palace. It is also recommendable to visit the Inka Museum or the San Pedro market. Don’t miss them!