The thing I find most fascinating about Cuzco as a city is its ability to preserve old ruins and sites that are only a very short car ride from the center of town. In Lima, the only example of this was the Huaca Pucllana, but after our weekend trip exploring from Cuzco to Pisac, I was astounded by everything that was still intact from the Incas.
It’s also astounding to hear the guides casually say that this church is however many hundreds of years old, and that the ruins we’re looking at are 500+ years old. Our country isn’t even 300 years old and I don’t think we’ve looked after even a quarter as many old sites, let alone how many will be left in a couple hundred years more. Sacsayhuamán was the closest site, and we had an absolutely breathtaking view of the city of Cuzco from above when there. Though the place is now a tourist site that you need tickets too, it has been there long enough to have many purposes and even just been a part for native Peruvians.
Having tourist attractions layered on top of a city that was founded in 1100 AD is also quite the impressive feat. I overhead some of the Appalachian State students talking and one described Cuzco as if almost arriving in a cruise port--everything right in front of you is for the tourists, but you can find authenticity if you dig deeper. If you venture just outside of the main hubs of the city, you still find people who speak Quechua and live without the constant electricity or running water we take for granted. Many cuzqueños have turned to tourism to make extra money from showing their culture they have preserved for ages. I’m very excited to see how the rest of exploring Cuzco stacks up in regards to a mix of past and present.