We visited the following three locations in one day, from Cusco. We were taken by bus to each of them and had official guidance all along the way.
This is where we saw the first incan-catholic church. To provide a bit of history, when the Spanish invaded the Inca Empire, “they didn’t come with chocolate and wine” (as we were taught the word “conquistador” means). They invaded. They raped and killed. And anywhere there was anything sacred, they forced the Inca people themselves to destroy their own establishments and build catholic churches with the very same stones. So the Incans rebelled, in their own way. Instead of building according to all catholic principles, they introduced Incan signs here and there. And so you can actually find churches that look catholic, but not really.
Another interesting thing we were shown is how the alpaca wool is processed from thread to cloth. They use different plants to color the wool (pics below).
This location is amazing for the salt mines. The extracted salt is exported throughout the whole world. The site is huge (pictures don’t do it justice).
The site is huge (pictures don’t do it justice). Additionally, they have a whole system in place, from incan times, to clean and extract the salt by using small channels with streams of water that evaporates.
Now this was epic!
This is in the northern part of the Sacred Valley and the biggest attraction is the Temple Hill or the fortress (in pics below) of the Incan resistance when they got invaded by the Spanish. Lots of steps up, but the view on top is breathtaking. From the top, you can also see on the opposing mountain, the Face of Wiracocha, the highest of the gods (from the side), which was carved into the mountain. Depending on the time of the year, especially around the winter solstice (21st of June), the sun rises from that direction making the view a “godsend” (see what I did there? haha).
This location is where we would later start our Machu Picchu hike.