This neighborhood of artisans, with its narrow streets and hidden corners, seems to want to tell us the innumerable secrets of the Imperial City. Cradle of old families dedicated to popular crafts, it is a paradise made of stone and colonial houses trapped in time that shine in broad daylight.
At night, the story changes. The neighborhood is transformed into a kaleidoscope of partying, color and music that is impossible to resist. In short, you don't just have to know San Blas: you have to live it.
The San Blas neighborhood is one of the mandatory places to visit on your trip to Cusco. Its steep and cobbled streets, the incredible works of art by its famous artisans and a viewpoint from which to see the entire city of Cusco are just some of the great attractions that attract hundreds of tourists to this neighborhood every day.
If you want to explore one of the most emblematic places in Cusco knowing all its history beforehand, keep reading! Here we tell you everything you need to know about the San Blas neighborhood.
The history of San Blas goes back to the times of the Inca Empire. During this time, the neighborhood was called T'oqokachi, a name that in Quechua means "Salt Cave". Here, as it happens today, lived important families dedicated to architecture and crafts.
T'oqokachi was a very charming place since, being at a height, water from springs reached here and there was a spectacular view of the entire valley of Cusco.
In addition, among its streets were the mortal remains of Pachacútec, one of the most important Incas and the one who ordered the construction of Machu Picchu. For this reason, it is believed that this place was of great importance to the Inca elite.
With the arrival of the Spanish, the neighborhood changed its name and became known as San Blas, in honor of a 3rd century bishop who was dedicated to healing people and animals.
The conquistadors destroyed the few temples that were here and built the buildings that 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 that leaves all who visit it in love.
After the independence of Peru and with the arrival of the Republic, the San Blas neighborhood gradually became one of the main tourist attractions in Cusco and continued to be the home of great artists from Cusco. Some of these artists, such as Mendivil, Olave and Mérida, have authentic art galleries in the neighborhood itself, which you can visit and even where you can buy some of their works.
Just walking through its streets is already a pleasure for all the senses. Its buildings, its continuous movement of people of all nationalities, its narrow streets... everything that makes up San Blas will leave you wanting to stay here forever.
But if you want to know 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 Cuesta de San Blas, a kind of summary of what awaits you in this picturesque neighborhood.
Galleries and workshops: precisely on the San Blas slope there are numerous galleries and workshops of important Cusco artists. In them, you will be able to appreciate his works and, in addition, buy the one that you like the most (there are prices for all budgets!).
San Blas Square: at the end of the Cuesta de San Blas is the San Blas Square, a small corner where you can sit and rest after climbing that steep street. Here you can visit two of the great attractions of this neighborhood, the Hilario Mendivil y Familia Gallery and the San Blas Temple.
Hilario Mendivil and Family Gallery: Hilario Mendivil is one of the greatest representatives of Cusco crafts. His work, which was developed during the 20th century, stands out for its long-necked religious images reminiscent of llama and alpaca, very representative animals of the Andes.
Temple of San Blas: one of the great jewels of colonial architecture in this neighborhood is the Temple of San Blas. This church, which was built on an Inca huaca and later rebuilt in 1650 after an earthquake, has an incredible pulpit carved in cedar, by an anonymous author, but attributed to artists from the area.
San Blas Viewpoint: to end the day, nothing better than going up to the San Blas Viewpoint and enjoying a beautiful sunset with one of the best panoramic views of Cusco.
Restaurants and bars: In addition, the neighborhood is perfect to enjoy a good meal or toast with cocktails and beers, as there are endless restaurants and bars of all kinds.