Although Cusco contains numerous colonial churches and palaces, plus two or three worthwhile museums, the city has two primary attractions: the Coricancha, which contained the Inca Temple of the Sun (now contained within the church of Santo Domingo), and Sacsayhuaman, the immense fortress and ceremonial center that the Incas constructed on a plateau overlooking the city.
As Cusco now receives more than 2 million visitors a year, both sites are often deluged with tourists. So on arrival at the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas hotel, I asked my guide how it might be possible to escape the hordes and experience the ruins in relative solitude, surrounded only by the ghosts of their former occupants. “You have to get up early,” he replied. “So how early is early?” I inquired, imagining a 4 a.m. wake-up call. “Sacsayhuaman opens at 7 a.m.” Frankly, this civilized hour seemed too good to be true.