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This edifice is located next to the Cathedral. The building was first the mansion of the conqueror Fernando Pizarro, and was constructed upon the Amaru Cancha ("Enclosure of the Serpent," palace of Inca Huayna Cápac). The Jesuits began its construction in 1576. Its spiked carved stone facade and interior are considered one of the best examples of colonial baroque in the Americas. The altars are cedar and covered with gold leaf, and the sculptures and paintings of the Cusquenian School like the "Wedding of the nephew of San Ignacio de Loyola with a Princess Inca" are also great to see. On each of its sides, are the chapel of Lourdes and the Oratory of San Ignacio de Loyola.
Plaza de Armas was known as Huacaypata (Warrior Square in quechua) in Inca times and is believed to have been designed by Manco Cápac. A magnificent Cathedral and the Church of La Compañía flank it on two sides. The Plaza was the scene of many key events in the history of the city. It was here that Pizarro proclaimed the conquest of Cusco. The arrival of the Spanish brought many changes to the Plaza, including the addition of the beautiful stone arches that surround it.
This is the most renowned street in the city, because of the famous twelve angles stone, a symbol of beauty and soundness in Incan architecture. The peculiar stone is one of the very great stones from the walls of the palace of Inca Roca, cyclopean construction. Now, it is part of the Archiepiscopal Palace, built upon the old palace. The street is rich with personality and local craftwork. It is the best route towards the colorful district of San Blas.
The order of Nuestra Señora de la Merced was the third Catholic order to arrive in Cusco, having founded its convent in 1542. The tower of the church is of Baroque style and has one of the most beautiful Baroque-Renaissance cloisters in Peru. The church keeps an incredible collection of goldwork on hand. Pieces of gold and precious stones, some weighing 22 kilograms and about 1.3 meters in height, are some of the biggest in the world. Buried underneath the main altar is the body of conqueror Diego de Almagro, right next to Gonzalo Pizarro, the first Spanish person to have arrived in Cusco.
Located in the Plazoleta of San Blas, the district of the craftsmen, this is one of the eight parishes for "Indians" that the Spaniards built. This construction is modest but harmonious; its original facade that crumbled during the earthquake of 1950 was adorned with a beautifully painted mural. Its interior is decorated with paintings of the Cusquenian school, with gold leaves and sculptures. The "Púlpito" simply dazzles; it is a most extraordinary example of artistic carpentry of Spanish churrigueresco style, and is carved from a single tree trunk.
Admission is 10 dolars (included in the tourist pass).
One of the oldest in the city, this neighborhood has streets whose patterns follow those of the Incas—narrow and steep much like a medieval city. The old houses have been built upon Inca stone walls. In and between the zig-zagging streets are picturesque little squares and viewpoints of the city. This area is also known as the Barrio de los Artesanos (Artisan Quarter), and it is dotted with workshops and stores of some of the most famous Cusqueño artists such as Hilario Mendívil, Edilberto Mérida and Antonio Olave.
The Dominicans were the first Catholic order to arrive in Cusco. They constructed this convent upon Koricancha ("Field of Gold"), the most important Inca sanctuary that was dedicated to the cult of the Sun, and where they stored their mummies. The polished stonewalls, unique in all of Cusco for their quality of stone work, were once covered with gold leaf. The facade of the church is a good example of the Renaissance style, and its tower, of the Baroque style. The Dominican order continues its evangelical work in the Peruvian south.
These colonial architectural examples are located in the Plaza San Francisco. The Franciscans were the second order to arrive in Cusco, in 1539. The present convent was raised in 1549 on an immense Inca platform. The church houses one of the biggest choirs in all of Cusco. Don't miss the collection of didactic panels on the gospels and the life of San Francisco, one on linen that is 12 x 9 meters, that relates the genealogy of the Franciscan family, made by Juan Espinoza de los Monteros.