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The Cusco Cathedral or Cathedral of Santo Domingo is located in Cusco (Cuzco or Qosqo) a historic city in southeastern Peru, about an hour flight from Lima. The city is situated in the Huatanay Valley (the Sacred Valley) of the Andes mountains, about 11,444 feet (3,490 m) above sea level.
The Cathedral construction began in 1559 on the ruins of Kiswarkanchar (Corichancha), the palace of Viracocha, Inca emperor. Many stones for the construction were taken from Saqsaywaman, an Inca megalithic defensive structure located in the mountains above Cusco. Building of the temple continued almost a century and was completed in 1654. The Cusco Cathedral was designed by Spanish architect and conquistador Juan Miguel de Veramendi. The edifice was shaped as a Latin Cross on an one-acre (4,047 sq m) site in the Gothic-Renaissance style with the baroque elements on its facade which looks onto the Plaza de Armas. You can see some religious Inca's symbols incorporated in the architectural elements of the Cusco Cathedral such as carved head of puma (an important Incas' God) on the doors of the Temple (the Incas were the major labor force in building the edifice). The Cathedral has three-aisled nave supported by 14 vast pillars and a solid silver altar. There are also ten chapels where factual worship is taking place.
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What Makes It Special
The Cathedral is not only a place of worship. The Cusco Cathedral is considered to be one of the most beautiful Spanish colonial Cathedrals in the Americas, a jewel of the colonial architecture as well as the main repository of Cusco colonial art, archeological artifacts and relics. Its centerpieces are a massive, solid-silver altar, and the enormous bell of the tower of the Gospel, called María Angola which was fused in brass and gold. Its toll can be heard up to 25 miles (40 km). The Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Cusco Cathedral with adjacent, small Iglesia del Triunfo church and Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus church make a worship complex on Plaza de Armas.
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Directions To Destination
From New York, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles and Toronto there are direct flights to Lima, Peru. From Europe, you can have direct flights to Lima from Madrid and Amsterdam. International flights to Peru arrive to Jorge Chávez International Airport, located in Lima. This airport is not only the main gate for international flights but also the main hub to local flights.
You can get to Cusco from Lima by plane or bus. However, the best and fastest way to come to Cusco is by air. There are several airlines which make domestic flights. One of them is Peruvian Airlines offering flights Lima to Cusco - Cusco to Lima with one-way fare of $95 and special fare for round trip of $122 (prices 2010). The flight time is about 55 minutes.
To come by bus you can use Cruz Del Sur bus company. Lima - Cusco ticket is $45. Ormeno bus service for Lima - Cusco ticket is $37 (prices 2010). The route from Cusco to Lima via Abancay and Nasca takes about 24 hours. The scenery is breathtaking but the road is difficult with many dangerous turns which may be not good for some travellers.
If you want to use train, keep in mind that there is no direct train from Lima to Cisco. PeruRail has daily train services between Cusco to Machu Picchu and services between Cusco and Puno which is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The train between Puno - Juliaca to Arequipa is not a regular service
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Best Time To Go
May to September. You may want to avoid the months of July and August when large numbers of visitors arrive to Cusco to visit the Inca Trail and the world-famous Machu Picchu.
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Where To Stay
Hotel Monasterio - five-star hotel with rates from $425 for non-oxyigenated room (all prices here and below are 2010). The hotel is located in the proximity from Cusco Cathedral.
Casa Andina Private Collection Cusco - three-star hotel with rates from $200, located next to Cusco Cathedral
Rumi Punku Hotel - two-star hotel, rates from $100, located a few minutes walk to the square of Plaza de Armas and Cusco Cathedral.
Research and book hotels in or near Cusco, Peru
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Useful Visitor Information and Tips
Take into consideration high altitude - 11,444 feet (3,490 m) above sea level. There may be health problems because of the low level of oxygen.
While in Cusco Cathedral, visit Chapel Nuestro Señor de los Temblores (Our Lord of the Earthquakes) where you can see a Crucifix which is said to save the Cathedral during the 1650 earthquake. The Crucifix is a beautiful masterpiece, made of 61 lbs (27,7 kg) of solid gold. It is 3.94 ft (120 cm) tall and decorated with 331 pearls, 263 diamonds, 221 emeralds, 89 amethysts, 43 topazes, 17 brilliant, 5 sapphires and 1 agate.
Admission fees to Cusco Cathedral is $8.50 (25 Peruvian Soles). However, if you plan to visit other places in Cusco, keep in mind that admission to many popular places in the city can only be made through a Tourist Ticket (Boleto Turistico). This ticket allows you to visit many sites in and around Cusco and costs about $46 (130 Peruvian Soles) The ticket is valid for 10 days and can be bought at the OFEC office at Avenida Sol 103 in Cusco or at any of the sites included in the ticket. The Koricancha-Santo Domingo complex has separate entrance fee of $3 (10 Peruvian Soles).
Cusco Cathedral is open Mon.,Wed., Fri., Sat. from 10 am to 11:30 am other days from 2 pm to 5:30 pm. Ask for an English-speaking guide that is included in the admission fee. They do not offer this service without request.
The climate of Cusco falls into two distinctive periods, the dry and wet seasons. The dry season lasts from April through October, with sunshine, and occasional nighttime freezes. During that period the rainfall is averaging only 0.2 inches per month. The dry season coincides with the main tourist season. However, in December, January and February the monthly precipitation levels are around 6 inches (150 mm). March and November are transitional months which despite the rain are not excessively damp. Although frost and hail are quite common in Cusco, snow is essentially nonexistent.
Highest average temperature is about the same all year round hovering around 66 - 69 °F (19 - 21 °C). However, average lows are around 32 °F (0 °C) in June and July and a bit warmer (around 44 °F or 7 °C) from November through March.
If you travel to Cusco, you may want to consider also visit Machu Picchu, a ruin of sacred Inca city on the heights of Andes
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