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Traditional neighborhood of San Blas in Cusco
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The San Blas neighborhood in Cusco

The San Blas neighborhood is the heart of the city of Cusco. People who have been in this neighborhood say that a mysterious energy is felt through its streets. There are many restaurants and bars where you can eat, drink and enjoy great music and the company of people from all over the world and culture. There are also workshops for artists and artisans famous for their works.


The San Blas neighborhood was the home of many artists since the time of the Incas. The first craftsmen of the place were called ‘Mitimaes’. These were dedicated to teaching local artisans. On Saturdays the streets are filled with fairs, works of art, dances, music and food.


What special is there in the San Blas neighborhood?

  • The San Blas neighborhood is famous for concentrating craft shops as well as workshops for the most famous artisans in Cusco.
  • It is also called the ‘Balcony of Cusco’, because it is located on the Plaza de Armas of the city.
  • Its streets are narrow and cobbled. Its colonial houses house many of the best art workshops and shops. It has restaurants with typical regional and foreign food.
San Blas Square
Church and square of San Blas

Map of the San Blas neighborhood

  • The San Blas neighborhood is located just a few blocks from Cusco’s Plaza de Armas. You can get there via Hatun Rumiyoc Street (where the famous 12 Angle Stone is located). Continuing along this street you will find the slope where you reach the small but beautiful Plaza de San Blas.

What to see there?

  • On your tour of San Blas you can visit the workshops and shops of the best artists in Cusco. You can also visit other places such as: the 12 angle stone, the main temple, the San Blas market and more.

Hatun Rumiyoc Street (12 Angle Stone)

– Hatun Rumiyoc is a Quechua word that means ‘great stone street’. Connect the Plaza de Armas of Cusco with the famous Stone of the 12 angles. This popular polished rock in twelve corners is part of a wall of the Inca palace of Sinchi Roca (today the Archbishop’s Palace). In this street it shows some craft shops.

San Blas earring

– At the end of Hatun Rumiyoc Street you will find the famous San Blas slope, a narrow and steep street where you will find one of the best art collections in the city. This street leads to the church and main square of San Blas.

Gallery of Hilario Mendivil and family

– Next to the Plaza de San Blas is the exhibition of the renowned craftsman Hilario Mendivil and his family. This artist from Cusco was one of the best in terms of traditional imagery. Its elongated neck ceramics inspired by llamas and alpacas, is unmistakable and recognized worldwide. Although Hilario Mendivil passed away in 1977, his family continues his legacy.

The Merida house

– The Casa Mérida family is located on Carmen Alto street. Edilberto Mérida’s work moved away from traditional imagery with a European style. His work has disproportionate features with large hands and huge feet. Most of them are costumbristas where the indigenous people stand out with faces of pain. One of his most recognized works is the ‘indigenous Jesus Christ’.

Olave Crafts

– The artisan from Cusco Antonio Olave is famous for being the creator of the ‘Manuelito boy’. The tenderness and delicacy that his works give off have earned him several recognitions such as: ‘Grand Master of Peruvian Crafts’ and ‘Living Human Treasure of the Nation’. In his work you can see mirror palates, bird feather teeth and natural hair on the heads of these ‘Manuelitos’ children.

The Temple of San Blas

– In the Plaza de San Blas is the main church and temple built in 1563 on an Inca temple dedicated to the god of lightning (Illapa). Inside the church stands out the pulpit carved in cedar attributed to the craftsman Juan Tomás Tuyro Túpac. On the temple walls you can also see beautiful pieces of art.

The San Blas market

– The small but famous San Blas market is characterized by offering fruits, vegetables and foods from Cusco to tourists who transit there. Many of them choose to have lunch or breakfast in this market. You can also buy various handicrafts such as alpaca clothing, sourvenirs and more.


Is the San Blas neighborhood in Cusco dangerous?

  • The San Blas neighborhood has police security 24 hours a day. Tourists can walk its streets both day and night with complete tranquility.

What to bring

  • Photographic camera.
  • Cash (preferably).
  • Map of Cusco (or use Google Maps).
  • Backpack with water, snacks, fruits, etc.

Is there a tour to the San Blas neighborhood?

  • Tourism agencies do not offer a tourist package for the San Blas neighborhood.
  • However, if the tourist wants to know the attractions of this place in the company of a professional tour guide, they can request their service through a tourism agency (either online or in the city of Cusco).
Paccha de San Blas
Paccha in the Plaza de San Blas

Interesting facts about San Blas in Cusco

  • During the time of the Incas, the area corresponding to San Blas was called ‘T’oqokachi’, a Quechua word that means ‘Salt cave’. After the Spanish invasion, the place was renamed San Blas in honor of the Bishop of Sebaste who lived in the 3rd century.
  • According to some chroniclers, the Inca mummy Pachacutec (emperor who had Machu Picchu built) was in the temple of Tococache (current church of San Blas) until the Spanish took it and destroyed it.
  • During the Republic of Peru, Cusco artisans settled in San Blas. Since then, the place became famous as: the bohemian neighborhood.
  • Currently, in the San Blas neighborhood many ‘backpackers’ gather, offering their crafts, music and artistic talent. Despite its fame, its streets are little traveled by tourists. Its small square is the perfect place to enjoy a moment of silence.

San Blas neighborhood image gallery

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Advice from people who have been there

The San Blas neighborhood

 Gianelly VBy: Gianelly V

“One of the most beautiful places in Cusco“

“San Blas is my favorite place in Cusco, without a doubt. Its cobbled streets, its bars, cafes and restaurants, are mixed with museums and art everywhere; the decoration of the business, the architecture and the crafts that are sold, make an impressive tour.“


 

By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, April 1, 2020