Plaza de Armas Cusco – Haukaypata
Plaza de Armas Cusco: one of the 5 most beautiful squares in the world according to the National Geographic Traveller in 2013.
In Incan times, the plaza was called ‘Haukaypata’ which is Quechua word meaning ‘place of ceremony or party’, alluding to the important activities that were carried out in this place like the ‘Inti Raymi’ (Suns Party). The plaza is also called ‘Wakaypata’ which means ‘place of weeping’, in honor of Incan leader Tupac Amaru, who was executed in the plaza in 1572.
Nowadays, the plaza is the center of the cultural and social life of the city, surrounded by old mansions of the colonial era that are now hotels, bars and restaurants.
One side of the Plaza de Armas boasts the basilica cathedral of Cusco, built between 1560 and 1664 on the site of Suntur Wasi – the ancient palace of Incan king Wiracocha. Suntur Wasi was built with huge blocks of stone brought from the Sacsahuaman site, 1.2 kilometres away. The basilica’s shape represents a latin cross, with a renaissance façade containing the best examples of colonial goldsmithing. The basilica also boasts a valuable collection of paintings from the Cusqueña School, a catholic artistic tradition which flourished in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
Adjacent to the cathedral is the Church of the Company of Jesus, built by the Jesuits in the year of 1576. This church is considered to be one of the best examples of Colonial Baroque style.