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article imagePhoto Essay: Streets of Cusco's historic San Blas neighborhood Special

By Ocean Malandra     Oct 30, 2014 in Travel
Cusco - Clinging to the hillside just above the historic center of the city, the San Blas neighborhood is the oldest residential area of Cusco, Peru and a paradise on earth for those that love to walk.
Centered on San Blas Plaza (above) the neighborhood is home to expats from around the world as well as traditional Cusqueño families and working artisans.
A typical  street  in San Blas
A typical "street" in San Blas
Ancient stone stairways wind up the mountain, making most of San Blas completely inaccessible to cars and entirely full of a unique charm that can only be enjoyed by pedestrians.
Flowers in the window of a typical San Blas house
Flowers in the window of a typical San Blas house
It is the details that make the neighborhood so enchanting, as 500 year old houses often remain relatively untouched by time.
Vegetation growing on an ancient rock in a tiny San Blas passageway
Vegetation growing on an ancient rock in a tiny San Blas passageway
Best explored independently by wandering around aimlessly, San Blas offers surprises and hidden treasures like narrow passageways and blooming flower gardens around every corner.
Art galleries  cafes and restaurants line the stairway streets of San Blas
Art galleries, cafes and restaurants line the stairway streets of San Blas
The area is also home to dozens of small art galleries, independent cafes and family run guesthouses that give it a bohemian yet local feel, despite the abundance of international visitors and residents.
A live band rocks San Blas plaza
A live band rocks San Blas plaza
There is also a smattering of nightlife in San Blas, and the plaza often hosts open air concerts at night.
Tanda Pata street follows an ancient Incan path through the San Blas area
Tanda Pata street follows an ancient Incan path through the San Blas area
Ancient Incan stonework is often evident in the San Blas neighborhood. The Spanish left many walls, doorways and even streets intact here as the pre-Colombian civilization's mastery of masonry was very advanced.
A colorfully dressed local with her llama
A colorfully dressed local with her llama
Decedents of the Incas are very prominent in Cusco, where 90 percent of the population speaks Quechua and the traditional textile arts are still an integral part of daily life for many.
From the San Blas Mirador  the entire city of Cusco is spread before you
From the San Blas Mirador, the entire city of Cusco is spread before you
Halfway up the mountainside, just as the historic stone commercial district gives way to more residential areas, the San Blas Mirador offers panoramic views over Cusco.
Incan stone paths stretch all the way from Chile to Colombia  but they all converge on Cusco
Incan stone paths stretch all the way from Chile to Colombia, but they all converge on Cusco
Adventurous souls can continue up the mountain to find ancient Incan roads that meander past fields of traditional superfoods like quinoa, here red and ready for harvest.
The Temple of the Moon is an ancient Incan ceremonial site
The Temple of the Moon is an ancient Incan ceremonial site
The Incan road leads to several ancient ruins including the Temple of the Moon, which also offers sweeping views of the high Andes and the Cusco valley.
More about cusco peru, Architecture, Travel, South america, History
 
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