Built on the site of the palace of the Inca Viracocha, Cusco's cathedral, which dominates the Plaza de Armas, is a beautiful religious and artistic monument. Completed in 1669 in the Renaissance style and now handsomely restored, the cathedral possesses some 400 canvasses of the distinguished Escuela Cusqueña that were painted from the 16th to 18th centuries. There are also amazing woodcarvings, including the spectacular cedar choir stalls. The main altar -- which weighs more than 401 kilograms (884 lb.) and is fashioned from silver mined in Potosí, Bolivia -- features the patron saint of Cusco. To the right of the altar is a particularly Peruvian painting of the Last Supper, with the apostles drinking chicha (fermented maize beer) and eating cuy (guinea pig). The Capilla del Triunfo (the first Christian church in Cusco) is next door, to the right of the main church. It holds a painting by Alonso Cortés de Monroy of the devastating earthquake of 1650. To the right of the entrance to the Capilla (the right nave, next to the choir stalls) is an altar adorned by the locally famous "El Negrito" (also known as "El Señor de los Temblores," or Lord of the Earthquakes), a brown-skinned figure of Christ on the cross known as the protector of Cusco. The figure was paraded around the city by frightened residents during the 1650 earthquake (which, miracle or not, ceased shortly thereafter). So strong is continued faith in El Negrito that locals deliver dozens of fresh flowers in his honor on a daily basis. The figure's crown was stolen a couple of years ago and not recovered; the one now adorning his head is gold, a gift of a parishioner.

The entrance to the cathedral and ticket office, where you can purchase the boleto turístico, is actually at the entrance to the Capilla de la Sagrada Familia, to the left of the main door and steps.