While mentioning the most significant colonial settlements, San Blas can’t be left behind. The famous neighborhood is certainly one of those places located in the heart of the city that you must visit during your time in Cusco, here we’ll tell you why!
As you may know, Cusco is recognized for its authentic cultural and artistic expression, where the colonial and Inca architecture are still present in its old town. Likewise, the famous San Blas neighborhood is one of the perfect examples of the prevailing legacy of those eras.
Currently, it is one of the most touristy areas of the city since it gathers beautiful colonial architecture, famous artisan shops, local markets, and most of all, an outstanding view of the Historic Center of Cusco.
However, San Blas is not only a colonial neighborhood since it also was an important center during the Inca Empire. Continue reading and find out everything about this important urban sector and how to make the most of it!
As aforementioned, the San Blas neighborhood also played a great role during the pre-Columbian era. It used to be called T’oqokachi, a Quechua word that can be interpreted as Salt Cavern. T’oqokachi was an important residential area that, just like in current times, it housed several artisans and architects during the Inca times.
Apparently, the place had a great importance to the Incas since from its strategic location one could observe the whole Cusco valley. Likewise, several temples were built in that part of the city, where one of them was the burial place of the Inca Pachacutec, one of the most important Inca rulers of that time.
Unfortunately, as with most of the Inca sanctuaries, the Spaniards destroyed a great part of the structures to build the colonial Cusco. Nowadays, the Temple of San Blas is the only colonial building assembled on top of an Inca construction, which according to historians, it used to be the worshiping center of the Lightning God Illapa.
During the colonization process, T’oqokachi was renamed to San Blas, in honor of Blas de Sebaste, a catholic figure that dedicated part of his life to heal animals and persons. Later, it became a significant colonial neighborhood, with beautiful mansions and narrow cobbled streets.
Several Andean artists settled in that location, including the renowned artisan Hilario Mendivil, who left a prevailing legacy in the Cusco region that has been followed by his descendants. Likewise, many other artisans have their workshops and galleries in the famous neighborhood, positioning it as the Barrio Bohemio of the city.
Now, as tourism has increased in the city of Cusco, San Blas is the most sought after attraction or even place to stay for most travelers in the Imperial City. The authentic barrio comprehends different galleries, workshops, artisan shops and markets, restaurants, accommodation options, and coffee shops.
Yes, there’s a lot to visit in the beautiful neighborhood, which is why we have gathered four of the unmissable attractions within the artisan hub:
1. Templo de San Blas
Located right at the heart of the San Blas neighborhood lies one of the most impressive colonial-Inca structures of the Historical Center of Cusco. The San Blas Temple is certainly one of those hybrid constructions composed of a pre-Columbian foundation and a colonial-andean architecture.
Address: San Blas, Cusco.
2. Museo Hilario Mendívil y Familia
As aforementioned, Hilario Mendivil was a famous artisan along with his wife Georgina Dueñas. They had a distinctive style to portray religious figures with elongated necks and serene faces.
Address: Plazoleta de San Blas 634, Cusco.
3. Casa de Mérida
Another gallery of an important artisan of the 20th century, whose artwork had a distinctive characteristic since he used to portray religious figures with disproportionate hands and feet.
Address: Carmen Bajo, Cusco.
4. San Blas Viewpoint
It is located a few meters away from Plazoleta San Blas, from this viewpoint you’ll get to appreciate the beautiful scenery of the Cusco Historic Center.
Address: Kiskapata, Cusco.
San Blas is easily accessible from Plaza de Armas. It takes only 20 minutes to get to the famous artisan neighborhood. However, if you wish to know more details and the whole history of the site, we highly recommend you taking a guided tour through Cusco’s main attractions.
Luckily for you, we have an exclusive excursion available for Viagens Machu Picchu passengers only, where you’ll be able to experience the Historic Center of Cusco, as well as getting to know the most significant streets, places of interests, restaurants, and more!
Viagens Machu Picchu provides everything you need to have an authentic adventure through our country. Get to know all the special offers we have in Peru travel packages and start planning the trip of your life!
There are so many things to do in Cusco city that you definitely can't miss, we'd love to show you everything it has to offer so you can make the most of your experience while you're here!