SPARK Abroad in Peru: The Sights

This is the second post in our SPARK Abroad blog series in which Associate Director of Corporate Relations, Alex Quinn, attended the trip.

In my last blog post, I briefly mentioned some of the sites that we visited while on our SPARK Abroad trip to Peru, but I’d like to delve into them further. Although these trips are service-oriented, plenty of time was reserved for us to see all of the historical sites that Cusco has to offer.

Basílica Catedral

cathedralIn Peru a large majority of the residents are Catholic, and they recognize the Catholic Church as an important element of the nation. In light of this, there are numerous statues and historical sites that are dedicated to religion, including the first site that we went to in Cusco– Basílica Catedral. This cathedral was built on top of an Incan temple by the Spanish in an attempt to assert religious dominance over the Incans. Today the cathedral sits in the Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco.

Side note: Photography is forbidden in the cathedral, but the inside is gorgeous and full of history!


Once the capital of the Incan Empire, this ruin sits high in hills of Cusco, overlooking the city. This site is composed of giant boulders that have been methodically cut to fit together without mortar. Even more of a testament to Incan architecture, though, is that the architects constructed Saqsaywaman to be earthquake resistant, as well.

The Spanish once thought that this site was fortress to protect the city due to the zig-zag shape of the walls and multiple levels. Saqsaywaman is still relevant to the Peruvians as this site is a part of the Inti Raymi celebration.

Machu Picchu

sun gate viewOur Peruvian trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting the most popular tourist attraction in South America and part of the recently voted New Seven Wonders of the World. Located about 50 miles outside of Cusco city, Machu Picchu sits high in the mountains above the Sacred Valley. In order to reach the estate, we took a two hour train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes then a short bus ride up the mountain side. Just as with Saqsaywaman, Machu Picchu is an architectural marvel. The site encompasses classic qualities of Incan architecture– many of the stones possess perfect joints, thus nullifying the need for mortar and trapezoidal-shaped walls and doorways. After our tour guide was finished, we had time to explore freely, so some of us trekked up to the Sun Gate, which provides a view of the entirety of Machu Picchu.machu picchu

I wish there were words to explain how incredible this experience was. I don’t think I’ll ever forget when we walked up to the spot where you can first see the city– you have an image in your head of what it looks like, then your perception is completely shattered by the absolute beauty of it all! We were able to watch the sun rise over the mountain tops as we stood on a ledge overlooking the perfectly constructed stone walls and captivating backdrop of the Andes Mountains.

 Some other notable sites that we visited include:

  • Sacred Valley
  • Terraces of Pumatallis
  • Cristo Blanco statue

Tune back in tomorrow for the final post in this blog series. If you are interested in attending a SPARK Abroad tour this upcoming December or next June, you can visit the SPARK Abroad page on Golden Key’s website to learn more about the trips.

About Golden Key

Golden Key is the world's largest collegiate honor society. Membership into the Society is by invitation only and applies to the top 15% of college and university sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as top-performing graduate students in all fields of study, based solely on their academic achievements. As an international honor society with more than 400 chapters at colleges and universities around the world, Golden Key is committed to a high standard of scholastic achievement, and an ethos of integrity, innovation, respect, collaboration and diversity.