Founded in 1535 by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who named it the City of Kings, Lima was the capital of the Spanish American empire for more than 300 years. Its historic centre is filled with ornate colonial mansions, 16th and 17th century churches and engrossing museums that tell of its history. Join our team of insiders who’ll tell you stories about the sights you see, including the splendid Archbishop’s Palace. You’ll also see the city’s cathedral, where Pizarro is buried. And the Monastery of San Francisco, said to be connected to the cathedral by catacombs. We also give you the opportunity to learn about the city’s history first hand from Dr Francisco Diez Canseco, the descendant of a distinguished Peruvian family. He’ll welcome you into his mansion for a traditional homecooked meal and a tour of the estate.
Cuzco is the capital of the Inca Empire and is known as the Imperial City, full with both Incan and Spanish heritage. Its sights include the baroque Cathedral of Santo Domingo, built on the foundations of the Inca Temple of the Sun, and the old quarter of San Blas, a picturesque blend of narrow cobbled streets, Incan stone walls and art workshops. Join us in Cuzco and we’ll take you to the La Casa Concha Museum, which houses 360 archaeological finds from Machu Picchu. And meet Peter Frost, a British explorer and author who spent 30 years investigating Inca archaeology.
The nearby Sacred Valley is home to pretty colonial towns and isolated weaving villages – which set the scene for a myriad of unusual experiences. At the Awana Kancha textile mill, watch weavers at work, and see llamas, alpacas and vicunas up close. Visit the Pisac market which is where Quechuas sell their produce and craftwork. And we’ll also give you the chance to stop at a chicheria, where you’ll taste Peru’s corn beer, chichi, and try your hand at ceramics at a potter’s workshop. You’ll meet an Andean storyteller, whose legends will leave you transfixed.
The ruins of Machu Picchu were thought to have been built as an estate for the 15th century Incan emperor Pachacuti, and abandoned a century later in the Spanish conquest. They are of the New Seven Wonders of the World and one of the most spellbinding places on the planet. Explore the Temple of the Sun, the House of the Priest, the Sacred Plaza and the Intihuatana, before making your way up to the Gate of the Sun for incredible views over the fortress and the valley.
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Three of South America's most popular, diverse and colourful countries are revealed on this journey into their capitals.