Tierras de los Andes logo

Cusco's Main Square, history and location

Home » Cusco » Guide to the Streets and Squares of Cusco: Discover the Hidden Gems » Cusco's Main Square, history and location
Home » Cusco » Guide to the Streets and Squares of Cusco: Discover the Hidden Gems » Cusco's Main Square, history and location

The Plaza de Armas is one of the most beautiful central places in the city of Cusco, also known as the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. There is the point where many tourists of different nationalities meet and start their visit to the different attractions that this historic city has.

As soon as you step in Cusco you will be amazed, since its Inca and colonial buildings still retain their infrastructure and has much to tell, there you will find a little bit of everything, but first I will tell you all about the Plaza de Armas of Cusco.

History of the Main Square of Cusco

According to writings, the Plaza de Armas was one of the most important places of concentration, it was the political and economic epicenter of the different civilizations before the arrival of the Spanish invaders in 1534.

Historically, we are told that the city of Cusco was a valley of 60 km in which there was a lake called Morkill that over time became three rivers, the first was called Sipas Pucquio that was in the west, Saphy is located in the center and finally Tullumayo in the east near the neighborhood of San Blas.

With this we mean that the Plaza de Armas in the beginning was immense, but as the Spanish invasion came destroyed this and divided the square being currently a third of a large square. We also find the stories of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega who tells us about the first founders of the city of Cusco.

We all know the legend of Manco Capac and Mama Occllo who are the first founders of the city, it is said that the god Inti entrusted this great mission to them so that they could teach and learn with other people and thus start the Inca Empire.

But to form the Inca empire he gave him a stick and told him to form the empire of the Incas where the stick sinks and so they did, they looked for the place until they managed to make it sink and it happened when they passed through a swamp, currently that place is called Plaza de Armas of Cusco.

However, who ordered the drying of the swamp to build a cultural center was the successor of Manco Capac the Inca Sinchi Roca, this was done in order to raise works such as cultural, religious and administrative center and were completed by the governor Pachacutec.

¿Qué significaba la Plaza de Armas en la Antigüedad?

In Inca times, the Plaza de Armas was called Aucaypata, Huacaypata or Huacapata, which was used for meetings of great importance, and not only that, it was also used as a battlefield.

After the arrival of the Spaniards to the Inca capital of Cusco, it was redesigned by the Spanish invader Francisco Pizarro, converting it into four squares, Plaza de Armas, Plaza de regocijo, Plaza San Francisco and Plazoleta Espinar.

The first was the execution of Tupac Amaru I in 1572. This character was one of the last Inca emperors who took refuge in Vilcabamba and did not agree with the Spanish regimes, but ended up being captured and executed by decapitation.

The second character is Tupac Amaru II in 1771, he was the descendant of the first Tupac Amaru I, who was not happy with the Spanish decisions, who with his family decided to rebel against the Spaniards, but ended up quartered by four horses and then beheaded.

This shows the end of the noble blood family of the Inca descendants and the abusive imposition of the Spaniards.

Description of the Plaza de Armas of Cusco

Today the Plaza de Armas of Cusco still preserves the buildings of the Inca period and you can witness it through its Inca walls, which in many cases were used as foundations of the Spanish buildings including churches, monasteries, mansions.

Now, in Cusco you will find not only this but also restaurants, bars, nightclubs, among other international brands that are located around the Plaza de Armas.

Which Inca is in Cusco's Plaza de Armas?

The Inca that is located in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco is the statue of the first Inca Manco Capac and was placed above the pool, as formerly there was placed the statue of the Indian; but as they saw that this did not represent us they took it out and years later decided to place the current statue that we see today.

Cusco Main Square Architecture

The Plaza de Armas still preserves the Inca walls on which were built colonial buildings that also continue to preserve their style, because of them we can see all these architectural traces in museums, churches, hotels, restaurants that maintain their shape and style.

In addition, the Plaza continues to be the main stage for the celebration of some of Cusco's festivities such as the famous Fiesta del Sol or Inti Raymi, Santurantikuy, Corpus Christi and events such as parades of delegations, political rallies and other general activities.

What to see and do in the Plaza de Armas?

Visit the churches, in the main square you can visit the famous churches that are located there. For example you can visit the great Cathedral of Cusco or the incredible Compañia de Jesus, both of them preserve the baroque style and inside you can see paintings of the Cusco school, liturgical objects of gold, silver and some precious stones among others.

To see it for free you can do it during mass hours, this time you don't pay and you can take advantage of it, but if you can't afford it you can also buy a religious tourist ticket that allows you to visit these two and others at different times.

Relaxation, if you want to spend a quiet moment and watching the tourist life in this city and admire the incredible landscapes that surround this square then this is a good place, but do not forget that Cusco is a tourist place, therefore, its inhabitants tend to sell some products and it is possible that you will be offered if you are in the Plaza.

Gastronomy, here you can find a variety of restaurants that offer a variety of dishes between typical of the area and other regions, although first you have to evaluate the costs of each of them, others may have comfortable prices and others high, this will depend on how you see the place and the quality of service they have on their websites.

Traditional festivities, if you are in Cusco during the Cusco festivities then the Plaza is the best place to see all that Andean tradition, because here all the institutions meet and perform presentations such as traditional dances, the Inti Raymi, Corpus Christi and other activities that you can see from this magnificent place.

To see this type of events you have to organize your trip with the travel agency Tierra de los Andes that will advise you which date is ideal to visit the different attractions of Cusco.

Distance between the airport and the Plaza de armas

From the Plaza de Armas to the airport Alejandro Velasco Astete Cusco has a distance of 5 km, on foot it will take you a long time to get there so we recommend taking a cab or you can also go by public transport.

How much does a cab charge from Cusco Airport to the Plaza de Armas?

Generally, all cabs that are inside the airport will charge you a slightly high price of about 20 US dollars, they are safe and will take you to your destination. This is not to say that the cabs outside the airport are unsafe.

And here is our recommendation, if you want to pay a fair price then you should go outside the airport and get it there, do not be afraid that all cab providers are safe and will take you to your destination, likewise the cost of transfer is less than those inside.

Most of these men will take you for 15 to 20 soles depending on the luggage you carry, but they are economical and I emphasize that they are safe; even if you ask them for advice on where to eat, what places to visit or for any information they will kindly tell you, and if you want them to take you, they will give you their number so they can take you to the place you want.

It is also allowed to negotiate prices and be at a fair price, preferably have on hand coins in soles, although you can also receive dollars, remember that dollars are not handled much and may not give you your change. So if you come to Cusco is better to handle the currency in soles that will facilitate you to go anywhere.

Where to eat in Cusco's Main Square?

The Plaza de Armas of Cusco is surrounded by different stores including restaurants, I leave you some of the restaurants you should visit if you are in Cusco:

  • República del Pisco
  • Mistura Grill Cusco
  • Qosqopolitan Restobar - Plaza
  • Chicha, Gastón Acurio
  • Kushka Restaurant
  • Garrison Pub
  • Fusión Andina
  • Taytachas de San Blas
  • La Gran Yunza
  • Inkagrill

Hotels near the Plaza de Armas?

Among the hotels we have around the Plaza de Armas, we have these:

  • Casa Andina Standard
  • Royal Inka I By Xima
  • Yabar Hotel Cusco Suite
  • Hotel Los Andes de América
  • Costa del Sol Ramada Cusco
  • Hotel San Pedro Plaza
  • Hotel Marqueses
  • Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel
Leave us your answer or if you have a question, let us know:
form contacto EN
Our certifications
Our Collaborators
Footer Terandes