Dubbed the “Land of the Incas” because it was once home to the expansive Inca Empire, Peru was conquered and colonized by Spain in the 16th century. As a result of its rich history, Peru today is packed with archaeological remains and colonial architecture. Add in the country’s spectacular natural beauty, and the product is an outstanding travel destination. An overview of the best places to visit in Peru.
One of the most beautiful and impressive ancient sites in the world, Machu Picchu is the undisputable nr 1 among the top tourist attractions in Peru. The “Lost City of the Incas” is invisible from the Urubamba Valley below and completely self-contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces and watered by natural springs. Although known locally, Machu Picchu was largely unknown to the outside world before being rediscovered in 1911 by historian Hiram.
Colca Canyon is a canyon of the Colca River, in the Andes mountain range, in southern Peru. It is more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, but the canyon’s walls are less steep. The big attraction here, in addition to the awesome sights, are the Andean condors. The condors can be seen at fairly close range as they float on the rising thermals.
Plaza de Armas
The Plaza de Armas is the center of the historic section in Cuzco. The original plaza was built by the Incas and was known as the “square of the warrior”. Almost twice the current size, it functioned as the cultural center of Inca life. Cuzco, which was the capital of the Inca Empire, was designed in the shape of a Puma and the plaza was intentionally built at the location of the heart of the Puma, in the center of the city. The Spanish reduced the size of the plaza by building two Churches, the Cathedral and the Church of La Compañía.
Made of dried totora reeds, the artificial islands of the Uros are Lake Titicaca’s top tourist attraction. The lives of the Uros, a pre-Incan people, are interwoven with these reeds, which is a primary source of food and are also used to make their homes, their boats and even a reed flower tea. Reeds are added to the top of the islands constantly, about every three months, as they rot from the bottom, so the ground is always soft and springy.
Santa Catalina Monastery
Founded on October 2, 1580, the Santa Catalina Monastery in Arequipa covers a walled area of 20,000 square meters with walls, streets, walkways, stairways and small squares. The monastery is predominantly of the Mudéjar style, and is characterized by the vividly painted walls. It is one of the most important monasteries of colonial Peru and Latin America.