Machu Picchu Cusco (iStockphoto)

Machu Picchu Cusco (iStockphoto)

Inca Valley Cusco (iStockphoto)

Cusco city at night (iStockphoto)

Machu Picchu in the Afternoon Harsh Sun Cusco (iStockphoto)

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What to do in Cusco

The intriguing history of the Andes includes ancient civilizations and lost cities. And more recently, a gold mine of T-shirt shops, travel agencies, and internet cafés—especially if you’re in Cusco, Peru, the launching point to the mighty Machu Picchu. Cusco has, however, managed to retain some of its old splendor. When Spaniards conquered the city in the 16th century, the general layout was kept intact, but cultural and religious edifices were destroyed and replaced with Catholic and Spanish statues. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cusco is home to Baroque churches, palaces and temples, narrow cobblestone alleyways with walls of granite or andesite, and the Plaza de Armas, the one-time center of the Incan empire. And, of course, it’s home to an assortment of guides who are eager to escort you to the area’s crown jewel: Machu Picchu.

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