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The San Blas neighborhood is one of the must-see places to visit on your trip to Cusco. Its steep cobbled streets, the incredible works of art of its famous artisans and an observatory to see the entire city of Cusco; are just some of the great attractions that draw hundreds of tourists every day.
If you want to explore one of the most emblematic places in Cusco to get to know all of its history in advance, keep reading! Lines below we tell you everything you need to know about the San Blas neighborhood.
History of the San Blas Neighborhood
The history of San Blas goes back to the Inca Empire. During this era, the neighborhood was called T’oqokachi, which in Quechua means “Salt Cave”. Here lived, ’til this day, important families dedicated to architecture and craftsmanship.
T’oqokachi was a place with much charm because of its elevation, here you could find springsheads and have the advantage of a spectacular view of the entire valley of Cusco.
In addition, among its streets the remains of Pachacutec were found, one of the most important Incas and the one who ordered the construction of Machu Picchu. Due to this reason, it is believed that this place was of great importance to the Inca elite.
With the arrival of the Spaniards, the neighborhood’s name changed to San Blas in honor of a bishop of the third century who dedicated his time to healing people and animals.
The conquerors destroyed the few temples that were once here and instead, they constructed the buildings we can see today when we walk through the streets of San Blas. The colonial architecture with great Andean influence gives this neighborhood a magical touch, making you fall in love when walking through this neighborhood.
After Peru’s independence and with the arrival of the Republic, the San Blas neighborhood started to gradually become one of the main tourist attractions of Cusco and continued to be the home of great artists from Cusco. Some of these artistic families include: Mendivil, Olave and Merida. They posses authentic art galleries you can visit in the neighborhood and maybe even purchase some of their artwork.
What must you see in the San Blas neighborhood?
Just walking through the streets of San Blas is a pleasure for all the senses. Its buildings, people from different nationalities walking by, its narrow streets… everything that is part of San Blas will make you want to stay here forever.
If you wish to visit the most important places in the neighborhood, here is a list:
Cuesta de San Blas: If you come from the Plaza de Armas, the first thing you will find is the famous San Blas slope, a small preview of what awaits you in this picturesque neighborhood.
Galleries and workshops: Precisely at the San Blas slope is where there are numerous art galleries and workshops of important artists from Cusco where you can admire their masterpieces and perhaps purchase the ones you like the most (you will see a variety of prices).
Plazoleta de San Blas: At the end of the San Blas slope is where the Plazoleta de San Blas is located. It is a small square in which you can sit and rest after ascending that steep street. Here you can visit two of the great attractions of this neighborhood, The Hilario Mendivil & Family Gallery, and The San Blas Temple.
Hilario Mendivil & Family Gallery: Hilario Mendivil is one of the most important representatives of craftsmanship from Cusco. His work, which took place during the twentieth century, stands out for the religious images with elongated necks that resemble those of llamas and alpacas, typical animals of the Andes.
San Blas Temple: One of the great jewels of the colonial architecture of this district is the San Blas Temple. This church, which was built on an Inca huaca and later rebuilt in 1650 after an earthquake, has an amazing pulpit carved in cedar wood, by an anonymous author, but attributed to local artists.
San Blas Observatory: To end the day, there is nothing better than going up to the San Blas Observatory to enjoy a beautiful sunset with one of the best panoramic views of Cusco.
Restaurants and bars: Additionally, the neighborhood is perfect to enjoy a good meal or to toast with cocktails and beers since there are many restaurants and bars of all kinds.
Have you fallen in love with San Blas by just reading this article and seeing the pictures? Make some time on your visit to Cusco and don’t miss out on this typical neighborhood from our city.