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Must See Museums in Cusco City

Cusco, the Incan Capital city and center of the greatest and largest empire in the history of the Americas. The Incan empire once encompassed all of Ecuador; nearly all of Peru, Chile, and Bolivia, parts of northwestern Argentina and the southernmost part of Columbia. Due to the vast size of the empire, many different ethnic groups and cultures were absorbed into it. Additionally, there were many pre-Incan cultures all throughout the empire adding an even more complex and diverse cultural depth to the region. See the Must See Museums in Cusco City.

With the arrival of the Spanish, and eventual conquest of the Incan Empire, the Incan record keeping system called “Quipu”, an intricate series of knotted multicolored strings, was nearly completely destroyed. The Spanish conquest, in addition to widespread disease killed most of the Incan quipucamayoc, a special noble class with the unique ability to decipher and create quipus.

With the quipucamayoc class and quipus both being nearly wiped out, today’s archeologists have virtually no Inca record keeping to study. Instead, they must rely on second hand reports recorded in Spanish field journals and historical documents. The loss of this ancient knowledge has only added to the mystery of the Inca. All of these factors combined; the many different ethnic groups, the pre-Incan societies, and the loss of the Incan quipus have left the region littered with archeological artifacts and many unexplained mysteries.

Of the artifacts that still remain in Peru most are kept in museums. Because of the diverse, complex, and ancient history of the country there are many museums throughout Peru. Cusco is home to some of the richest cultural history in the country, so while you’re here don’t miss out on the must-see Museums in Cusco.

List of the Must See Museums in Cusco City

Inca Museum

The Inca Museum was established in 1920 under the name “The Archaeological Museum of the University of Cusco” and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of “Ciudad de Cusco”. The artifacts currently on display are from the collections of the old Library-Museum of Cusco, and from lawyer and politician José Lucas Caparó Muñiz. The Inca Museum has one of the most well preserved and extensive Incan Artifact collections in the world. In addition to the extensive Inca artifact collection, there are pre-Incan exhibits on the first floor. The Inca Museum has various different items on display ranging from pottery, metal-work, textiles to mummies, and much more.

Points of interest

***PLEASE NOTE: The Inca Museum has the largest collection of Inca Artifacts in Cusco and possibly the world.

How to get there

Getting to The Incan Museum is fairly easy, it’s only one block northeast of Plaza de Almas. Go to the Northeaster side of Plaza de Almas and find the street “Cta. del Almte”. Walk up the street for 1 or 2 minutes and The Inca Musuem will be on the courner right in front of you.

Address: Ataud 154, Cusco 08002

Entry

Museum of Regional History

Currently in the former home of the famous chronicler and writer Inca Garcilaso de la Vega the Museum of regional history is one of the one of the biggest in Cusco. This Museum offers great in-depth exhibits highlighting the passage of history over the millennia. Exhibits range from pre-Incan Wari, Pre-Columbian age, colonial age, and into the modern age of the Peruvian Republic. This is a great museum to see the passage of history here in the region of Cusco. The Museum of Regional History was founded in 1946 and was finally moved to its current location on the house of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. The collection was originally donated from the Concha Ibérico family and today there are many art pieces on display from the Cusco school of Art.

Points of Interest

How to get there

The Museum of regional History is located on the corner of Calle Garcilaso de la Vega and Calle Heladero near Plaza Regocijo. Only two blocks southwest of Plaza de Almas, walking there from Plaza de Almas takes a few minutes.

Address: C. Garcilaso, Cusco 08002

***PLEASE NOTE: You cannot buy an entry ticket for only the Museum of Regional History you need to purchase a boloto turistico in order to enter

Entry

Museum of Pre-Columbian Art

The Museum of Pre-Columbian art’s collection comes from the Larco Museum in Lima Peru. Totaling 400 different pieces showcased in 10 rooms the collection is internationally recognized as one of the best of its kind. While visiting the Museum you’ll be take through 10 different rooms. The first room showcases the earliest civilizations of Peru dating back to 250 B.C. The next four rooms are organized by the materials used, wood, shell, silver, and gold. The final 5 rooms are organized by civilization, Paracas and Nazca, Mochica, Huari, Chancay and Chimu, Inca.

Points of Interest

How to get there

Close to the main square only three blocks away, it takes around 5 minutes to walk to the Museum of Pre-Columbian art from the main square. Located where Calle Nazarenas turns into Pumacurco on the Northwestern corner of Plazoleta de las Nazarenas. The museum is in the Historical Center of Cusco and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of “Ciudad de Cusco”.

Address: Nazarenas 231, Cusco 08002

Entry

Museum of Qorikancha

Qorikancha means The Golden Temple and is a great example of Incan and Spanish Colonial architectures. The Museum of Qorikancha is located underneath the grassy courtyard in front of the Qorikancha temple. Qorikancha is considered the most important holy structure in the entire Inca Empire and was dedicated to the worship of the Sun God Inti. All of the pieces on display are from the archeological excavation of Qorikancha which was looted and destroyed during the Spanish conquest. A small museum consisting of 5 rooms, there are various different ceramics, textiles, tools, weapons, and even some human remains including mummies. The main attraction of this Museum is Qorikancha itself. The temple is one of the most impressive pre-Columbian structures in the world. Remember to explore Qorikancha when you visit the museum.

Points of Interest

How to get there

Located on the corner of Avenida del sol and Calle Arrayanniyoq 4 blocks from Plaza de it takes around 10 minutes to walk there from the center. When you arrive, you’ll see the magnificent temple of Qoricanch with a large grass field in the foreground. To gain access to the Museum you’ll have to go down below the grass field the entrance is hard to miss.

Address: Santo Domingo s/n, Cusco 08000

Entry

Museum and Catacombs of the Convent of St. Francisco of Assisi

The Convent of St. San Francisco is a church located in Cusco’s historic district and is part of the UNECSO World Heritage Site of “Ciudad de Cusco”. Built in 1572 the church was destroyed in the earthquake of 1650 and rebuilt in 1652. The convent was built in the shape of a cross separating the building into 4 “cloisters” or sections. The museum portion of the convent is comprised of two floors of the second cloister, the church, choir and antechoir. Inside the church there are many impressive paintings including the largest canvas oil painting in the Americas and oldest painting in Cusco, Genealogy of the Franciscan Order. The church also served as a cemetery and consequently there are catacombs beneath the church. Visitors can go down to the catacombs and see skull of some of the former San Francisco monks.

Points of interest

How to get there

The Convent of San Francisco is close to the center around a 5-minute walk. Located in the southern part of Plaza de San Francisco the Convent is 4 blocks from Plaza de Almas. Plaza San Francisco is on the corner of Calle de Santa Clara and Granada Street. Once you arrive at the plaza, you’ll see the large belltower of the church.

Address: Pl. San Francisco s/n, Cusco 08001

Entry

Cusco has some of the richest cultural heritage out of any city in the world. The museums here greatly showcase the incredibly complex history of the region. There are many sites to see here in the Cusco region but, the Historical center of Cusco has history literally on every corner. It can be hard what to choose to visit especially if you have a tight schedule. However,  If you are planning a visit to Cusco, the Imperial city of the Inca, make sure to visit the must see museums in Cusco.