Cusco's most atmospheric and picturesque neighborhood, San Blas, a short but increasingly steep walk from the Plaza de Armas, is lined with artists' studios and artisans' workshops, and stuffed with tourist haunts—many of the best bars and restaurants and a surfeit of hostels. It's a great area to wander around—many streets are pedestrian-only—though exercise caution with your belongings, especially at night. The neighborhood affords some of the most spectacular panoramic vistas in the city. In the small plaza at the top and to the right of Cuesta San Blas is the little white Templo de San Blas, said to be the oldest parish church in Cusco (no phone; admission S/10 adults, S/5 students; Mon–Sat 2–5:30pm). Although it's a simple adobe structure, it has a marvelously carved churrigueresque cedar pulpit. Some have gone as far as proclaiming it the finest example of woodcarving in the world; carved from a single tree trunk, it is certainly impressive. The pulpit comes with an odd story, and it's difficult to determine whether it's fact or folklore: It is said that the carpenter who created it was rewarded by having his skull placed within his masterwork (at the top, beneath the feet of St. Paul) upon his death. The baroque gold-leaf main altar is also worth a look.
Barrio de San Blas
Our Rating Neighborhood Begins roughly at Calle Choquechaca, as the neighborhood climbs into the hills
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