Plaza de Armas of Cusco history

Plaza de Armas of Cusco history

On your visit to the city of Cusco, you should not miss the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. Undoubtedly, this square is a delight for visitors who come to know it for the first time, being very attractive for its colonial architecture buildings.

Just in front of the Plaza is the church of the Society of Jesus and the Cathedral, and in its surroundings you will find a lot of craft stores, bars, lodging and restaurants.

It is in this square that Cusco’s most important ceremonies are usually held! Therefore, it is a charming place visited by hundreds of tourists, so on your trip do not miss the Plaza de Armas of Cusco.

Know a little of the History of the Main Square of Cusco

The Main Square of Cusco was a political and economic epicenter for many civilizations and where the local population used to make exchanges or barter products, all this before the Spaniards arrived in Cusco in 1534.

At that time, the current Main Square of Cusco was known as “Auccay Pata”, which means “The most important place”. This place was divided into two squares that were surrounded by temples and palaces.

Once the Spaniards arrived in Cusco, they were in charge of redesigning this place, turning it into 4 squares, which were known as Plaza de Armas, Plaza Regocijo, Plaza San Francisco and Plazoleta Espinar.

And, at present, the Plaza de Armas of Cusco is approximately 1/3 of the original size of what was the pre-Hispanic square.

Evolution of the Main Square of Cusco

The Plaza de Armas of Cusco has changed according to the periods of the history of this country and below we give you more details about it:

In the Pre-Inca period.

During this period this square was surrounded by many palaces and sanctuaries, there were also many civilizations such as the Wari empire and the Killque kingdom.

It was a place used for the exchange of products, and it was also used to celebrate traditions and customs, but it was mainly used as a market.

During this period, the Huayna Qapac Palace or Wiracocha Palace was built.

In the colonial period

With the arrival of the Spaniards in Cusco, they replaced the Inca buildings with churches and colonial mansions.

Many of these constructions can still be seen today and some of the most outstanding that can be mentioned are:

  • The church of the Society of Jesus replaced the palace of Huana Qapac.
  • The convent of Santa Catalina replaced the Accla Wasi.
  • The Cathedral replaced the palace of Wiracocha.
  • A group of colonial houses replaced the Yachay Wasi, here you can buy the train ticket to Machu Picchu.
  • The truncated pyramid or “Ushno” was replaced by the Water Pool.


Currently, in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco is still preserved much of the Inca period. In this place there are many colonial buildings that still exist and the Inca walls that served as foundations for the Spanish buildings.

All this is currently accompanied by traditional hotels, bars, restaurants and craft stores, where you will find products typical of the region.

But, in the surroundings of the Plaza de Armas of Cusco as the modernism of the era acts: here you can find nightclubs and international stores like KFC, McDonald’s and Paddy’s Irish Pub.

Why is it called Plaza de Armas?

The reason why it is known by this name is that during the colonial period this place was used by Spanish soldiers as a meeting point.

Here also these soldiers used to perform demonstrations with their weapons and that is the reason for its name.

Historical events that took place in this square

There are two historical facts that occurred in this place and that served to change the destiny of the population of Cusco, Peru and South America. These were:

The execution of Tupac Amaru I in 1572: this was the last Inca emperor, a rebellious man who was always against Spanish rule and was captured in 1572 and taken to this place to be executed.
The execution of Tupac Amaru II in 1771: this was a descendant of Tupac Amaru I, he was quartered, thrown to 4 horses and finally beheaded, also his family was exterminated.

What to do in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco?

At present, this is a very prominent place in the city of Cusco, being visited by national and international tourists, mainly for the attractiveness of its buildings, among which stands out the Pileta de Agua (the most visited in the whole country).

In addition to knowing the various ancient buildings, do not forget to visit the craft stores, and of course enjoy the evenings in this square, accompanied by good lighting and many parties in the surrounding area.


On your visit to the city of Cusco, be sure to enjoy the beautiful and historic Plaza de Armas of Cusco, a place full of history important for each cultural period through which it passed. Check our website for more details.

Book with us if you want a tour to Inca Trail or any destination in Peru, we are a travel agency with much recognition in the city of Cusco.

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