Cusco is a city in southeastern Perú, near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range. Its elevation is around 3,400 m (11,200 ft). Cusco was the site of the historic capital of the Inca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. It is a major tourist destination and receives almost 2 million visitors a year. Its cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, community plazas, myriad museums, bustling local markets, Andean culture, and close proximity to spectacular Inca ruins make Cusco a must-see for any visitor to Perú.
Legend tells that in the 12th century, the first Inca, Manco Capac, was charged by Inti, the ancestral sun god, to find the navel of the earth (qosq’o in the Quechua language) – the spot where he could plunge a golden rod into the ground until it disappeared. When at last Manco discovered such a spot, he founded the city that was to become the thriving capital of the Americas’ greatest empire.