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San Blas district of Cusco

San Blas district of Cusco, Cusco, Peru (A)

The San Blas district of Cusco sits above the central part of the city, a relatively steep climb up charming cobblestone streets. San Blas is the "artsy" area of Cusco - where you will find a number of small galleries, craft stores, coffee shops, restaurants and bars. The feel is much more laid-back than in central Cusco, and worth the climbing from the heart of the city.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: San Blas district of Cusco
Guide Location: Peru » Cusco
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2.0 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles
Author: Jim Reynoldson
Author Bio: Jim Reynoldson is an avid traveler and writer who grew up in Oregon. He enjoys hiking, camping, and sight-seeing throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Inca Walls on Hatunrumiyoc
  • Iglesia de San Blas
  • Taller Mendivil
  • Museo Coca
  • Inka Panaka
  • Andean Expressions
1
Inca Walls on Hatunrumiyoc

1) Inca Walls on Hatunrumiyoc

The Inca walls forming this alleyway serve as a gateway between the Plaza de Armas and the artsy San Blas district, uphill and northeast of the city’s center. A number of small shops and restaurants line this street, but the primary attraction is the iconic twelve-sided stone, set among walls of insanely precise Inca masonry. The stone wall actually belonged to the sixth Inca ruler, Inca Roca. Just one word of warning: you will be hounded by a group of well-informed young people hoping to serve as impromptu tour guides – telling you the history of the stone for a tip.
2
Iglesia de San Blas

2) Iglesia de San Blas

This adobe church sits next to the Plaza San Blas in the bohemian hilltop district of Cusco. One of the oldest churches in the city, the Iglesia San Blas was built in 1563. The cedar pulpit dates back to the 17th century and is carved from a single tree trunk – and is considered one of the most ornate in South America, with representations of the Virgin Mary, the Apostles, and Christ. Legend has it that the skull of the carpenter who created it – in order to honor him – was placed inside of the pulpit, at the feet of St. Paul.
3
Taller Mendivil

3) Taller Mendivil

This charming gallery is tucked into a corner of the Plaza de San Blas and is focused upon works created by the Mendivil family of artisans – particularly Hilario Mendivil, who died in 1977. Subjects include religious figures with the signature elongated necks – a style paying tribute to the importance of Andean camelids (alpaca, vicuna, llama, etc.) to local culture. Starches such as rice, wheat, and potato flour – as well as balsa wood – are often used in the framework of the sculptures and other artworks. Many of the Mendivil works are housed in local museums and galleries – but many are also for sale in this small gallery.
4
Museo Coca

4) Museo Coca

This small, fascinating museum in the San Blas district of Cusco is a bit odd as museums go. It is focused upon the history and impact of the coca leaf. Exhibits are in English, with guided tours in Spanish, explaining the relationship between coca and the Inca (as well as pre-Inca) cultures as a form of medicine. You will see coca leaves for sale here (as well as many other places), which are chewed to ward off soroche (altitude sickness). The museum also covers the negative impact of the modern day cocaine industry. The boleto turistico is not required for entry into the Coca Museum.
5
Inka Panaka

5) Inka Panaka

This small, quaint hipster hangout is located just above the Plaza San Blas, tucked away on the narrow street called Tandapata. Part restaurant/bar and part art gallery, the walls are decorated with a number of paintings and woven goods from the local Amaru community of artists. Despite its small size, the menu is huge – with a number of vegetarian options as well as meat dishes, and a fine selection of juices, coffee, tea, beer, and wine. A great selection of steaks (including alpaca) is a nice surprise. Mellow acoustic music is normally the soundtrack of choice, and free wifi access while you eat is also a plus.
6
Andean Expressions

6) Andean Expressions

This clothing shop features unique, hand-printed shirt designs with Andean flavor by local artists on 100% Peruvian cotton. Overlooking the central part of Cusco from the San Blas district, this shop has become a favorite place for tourists to pick up souvenirs to take home. Founded in 1980, the owner is from the town of Huaraz in the northern Peruvian Andes (where a factory and another shop location is found) – and the artwork themes express the spirit of the various regions of the mountains within Peru. Members of the South American Explorers club get a 10% discount on shirt purchases.