Why Cusco is one of the world's great cities

By Morten Bruun Jensen

Find out why you should vote for Cusco as one of the world’s greatest cities.

Why Cusco is one of the world's great cities

Cusco (Colegota/Wikimedia Commons)

Cusco and Lima are on the list of cities nominated for voting as one of the seven top cities in the world. The voting is run by the same organization whose previous votes had Machu Picchu named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and the Amazon as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, so it would be great to score another victory for Peru. At this stage, you can select seven cities to be nominated, but eventually Peru will have to select one city to put its efforts behind.

I live in Lima, and I fully enjoy the capital’s many attractions, pulse and creativity, but I will vote for Cusco, and would like to encourage you to do the same.

In and around Cusco, you find magic valleys, sacred mountains, Koricancha, Sacsayhuamán and close-by, of course, the famous Machu Picchu. You can experience glorious trekking, lush nature, tranquility, cleansing air, history and archaeology, alongside loose dogs, condors, humble people, cremoladas, guinea pigs, shoe-shiners, the celebration of Mother Earth, street sellers, coca, soroche, and night life.

Cusco is an inspiring cocktail, and there are thousands of reasons to celebrate it. It is a glorious, breath-taking (sometimes literally), and overwhelming experience when visiting Cusco the first, second or fifteenth times. In my opinion, it is in fact one of these few places that deserves to be called a small paradise on earth – an unimaginable place that could be made up for a children’s fairy tale.

And Cusco is for everybody. For the young, for the old, for the adventurous backpacker, for the luxury tourist, for those interested in history and culture, those keen on food, nature lovers, volunteers, or bohemian artists. I guess that Cusco is only missing the sea, but even without that, this idyllic city embraces the whole world.

Cusco, or Qosqo, represents history, not only due to Machu Picchu, but also for its long and remarkable story and many myths. In fact, Qosqo is considered to be the longest continuously inhabited city in South America, dating a continuous population since 1100 BC. We all know of about Cusco being the capital of the Incas until the Spanish Conquest in 1532, but there were less famous cultures before that: the Killke culture, leaving Sacsayhuaman as a historical monument of their culture, and before that the Huari Culture, and so on in a fascinating time line of Pre-Colombian cultures in Cusco all with their unique and exciting culture to study.

Another great attraction to Cusco is the myths, and it is really fabulous to delve in the storytelling of how the god Pachacamac created man, and how he first mistreated and pitied his creation, fighting with the Sun and sometimes killing his own creations. It is fascinating reading, as are the many myths of Manco Capac, the first Inca ruler. Only the great cultures give rise to great stories, myths and legends.

Last but not least we should embrace and pay tribute to the Cusqueñan people. I myself lived there for almost one year, and I learned that the people in this region are humble, warm and extraordinarily welcoming. Close to one million tourists come to visit their city every year, and yet the locals maintain their relentless, embracing smile that always welcome you. This is probably not an official criterion for the designation as a Wonder of the World, though maybe it ought to be.

I live in Lima now, which I am indeed fond of, but everybody in Peru should vote for Cusco. Practically, to win the competition, a city will need support from outside Peru, and Cusco has the best reputation internationally.

We should all celebrate Cusco for being something out of the ordinary, something magical and majestic – a small paradise on earth which everybody should visit at least once in their life time. It is like taking part of a fairy tale, and a visit is a memory for the rest of everybody’s lives.

Vote for Cusco, one of the remaining paradises on earth.