The “San Blas neighborhood ” is the heart of the city of Cusco; each one of its streets, loaded with the energy of the people who visit it, reveal its fabulous history, some stops that should do if you pass through this neighborhood of artists and craftsmen, reveal in a graphic and artistic way the history and culture of one of the most incredible colonial cities that exist. The people who have been in this neighborhood say that San Blas at night, burns; people fall surrendered to the mysteries and energy of its stone 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.
Church and square of San Blas
The San Blas neighborhood
The San Blas neighborhood is also called the “Balcony of Cusco”, because it is located on the Main Square fo the City, it is a place that has to be visited both of day and night; besides many places in San Blas will allow you to take beautiful views of Cusco…
Its streets are narrow and cobbled, its colonial houses lodge many of the best workshops and art shops, with works of the best artists of the city; has typical Cusco food restaurants, musicians and dancers everywhere; this magic has made it one of the best places to visit in Cusco; can walk, is only 4 blocks from the Main Square of the Cusco; you will find imagery, goldsmiths, pottery and carved stone and wood.
History of the San Blas neighborhood
This 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 the local craftsmen. On Saturday the streets of the city are a delight, there are fairs, art shows, dances, music and lots of food, local Peruvian food.
How to get to San Blas?
The neighborhood of San Blas is located just a few blocks from the Main Square of Cusco can be reached by the old Inca street of Hatun Rumiyoc (great stone street) and where is the famous stone of the 12 angles. Continuing along this street you will find the hill San Blas, where you will reach the small but beautiful square of San Blas.
Paccha in the square of San Blas
Traditional tour and stops in San Blas artisan neighborhood
The neighborhood of San Blas has a definite route that you can visit to see its most interesting places, among which are the workshops and art shops of the best artists and craftsmen of the city.
Departure: Main Square of the Cusco
Its route towards the traditional San Blas neighborhood, will begin in the Main Square of the Cusco; from this place to the picturesque Barrio de San Blas, you will appreciate beautiful Inca constructions, on which the new city of Cusco was built during the Colony.
Stop 1: Hatun Rumiyoc Street
After leaving the Main Square, continue along the right side of the Cathedral, until Hatun Rumiyoc Street, recognized worldwide for hosting “the stone of the 12 angles” that is part of an ancient wall of an Inca palace, which would later be converted into the Archbishop’s Palace and the Museum of Religious Art in Cusco. This street shows some craft shops, although the best is yet to come.
Stop 2: San Blas hill
At the end of Hatun Rumiyoc Street you will find the famous hill of San Blas, a narrow and steep street, where you will find one of the best art collections in the city, distributed in shops, galleries and workshops; at the end of the hill just before the square of San Blas, you will find the gallery exhibition and sale of the renowned artisan from Cuzco, Hilario Mendivil.
Stop 3: Gallery of Hilario Mendivil and Family
Next to the Square San Blas is the exhibition of the renowned craftsman Hilario Mendivil and family. This artist was one of the best as far as traditional imagery is concerned; its art, with elongated necks inspired by llamas and alpacas, is unmistakable and recognized worldwide. The works of Hilario Mendivil have earned him the National Handicraft Prize, the recognition of Grand Master of the Popular Art and to be considered Cultural Patrimony of the Nation. He made sculptures of virgins and saints with serene and haughty countenances; the long and stylized necks are one of the peculiarities of the work of this artist. It is said that the long necks were used to hide inside rolled canvases that were sent to Europe; although it is only a rumor. Their religious works are impregnated with the daily life of the people of Cusco; chicha vendors can be seen in religious scenes. Although Hilario Mendivil and his wife passed away (in 1977 and 1999 respectively), his family continues with his legacy and many of them continue to create beautiful works of art.
Stop 4: The Mérida House
The gallery of the Mérida family is located on Carmen Alto Street in San Blas. The work of Edilberto Mérida moved away from the traditional imagery adding to his work a European style. Mérida creates works of disproportionate features, with large hands and enormous feet and, although she did religious works, most of them are costumbristas. Indigenous people with faces of pain for the oppression that lived at some point in their history. One of his most recognized works is an indigenous Jesus Christ, in which he manages to unite the suffering of Christ with that of the indigenous people. This family also owns the first private museum of the region, the Inkariy Museum in Pisac one of the best exhibitions of the cultures of ancient Peru and one of the best things to do in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
Stop 5: Olave Craft
Also within the neighborhood of San Blas, the gallery of Antonio Olave, where are beautiful works of art. He is the artisan of the Manuelito Child. The tenderness and delicacy of his works have earned him awards such as “Great Master of Peruvian Craftsmanship” and “Living Human Treasure of the Nation.” In his work you can see mirror palates, feathers of birds feathers and natural hair, in the heads of the “Children Manuelitos”.
San Blas Temple
San Blas neighborhood is an unforgettable experience that you have to live in Cusco. The square of the neighborhood shows its old church built in 1563. In it stands the pulpit carved in cedar, is truly impressive and is attributed to indigenous craftsmen. Inside you can also see beautiful pieces of art.
Advice from people who have been there
“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 Update, 09-06-2017
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