Eat local — Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel) -- a beautifully restored 16th century convent, Cuzco, Peru

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel) — a beautifully restored 16th century convent, Cuzco, Peru

Palacio Nazarenas sits at the heart of Cuzco, at the point where two ceremonial Inca thoroughfares once met, 3 blocks uphill from the Plaza de Armas, Cuzco’s main square.  Today this strategic location is one of the city’s most delightful, peaceful squares.  According to the 16th century historian, El Inca, Garcilasco de la Vega, the family home of the last great emperor, Huayna Capac, once stood somewhere in this area which was known as Amaru Qata (Serpent Slope). 

It is thought that Palacio Nazarenas  may stand on this imperial site.  And certainly the Spanish colonial building in which we stayed (now the hotel) does feature elements that reflect its ancient name.  The massive coat-of-arms carved above the main entrance (see the photograph, above) sports a pair of mythical beasts with serpent tails, while numerous stones about the walls feature small snakes in high relief (see the last photograph in this post).  Many of these stones were taken from former Inca buildings and reused to create this early colonial residence.  For centuries, up until today, Cuzco townspeople have referred to the building as La Casa de las Sierpes (House of Snakes).

Interior couryard at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Interior courtyard at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

In 1757 Palacio Nazarenas became a beaterio, a type of “second rung” convent for daughters of the native Spanish-descended aristocracy.

The chapel, dating back to when this was a convent, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

The chapel, dating back to when this was a convent, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

The 45 barefoot Nazarenes who came to reside here welcomed the public to masses while they remained sequestered behind screened-off enclosures.

A surviving original 16th century convent courtyard fresco, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

A surviving original 18th century convent courtyard fresco, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Many frescoes dating from the early convent period remain sheltered under the courtyard patio’s arcades.

A refreshment stand by the swimming pool, near the restaurant, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

A refreshment stand by the swimming pool, near the restaurant, at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

In 1961 the Nazarenes joined the Carmelite nuns, dissolving their order into the larger organization; in 1977 they moved to a smaller quarters and historic building was rented to a Peruvian government agency.  In 1998 a lease was signed with Peru Hotels who transferred the lease in 1999 to Orient-Express Hotels, Ltd. (later renamed Belmond).

Local spirits (and more) at the bar at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Local spirits (and more) at the bar at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

The design and planning phase of converting the convent into a luxury hotel lasted until 2009, followed by restoration and construction.  The first guests were welcomed to Palacio Nazarenas in June 2012.

Dried local corn at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Dried local corn at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

After our arrival, we had a late luncheon at the Senzo Restaurant at the hotel.  Impeccably fresh ingredients, simply prepared and delicious!

Salmon trout ceviche with fried corn kernels (a national favorite), local giant white corn kernels, squash, and greens (starter) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Salmon trout ceviche with fried corn kernels (a national favorite), local giant white corn kernels, squash, and greens (starter) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

 

Salad of fresh local greens and avocado (starter) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Salad of fresh local greens and avocado (starter) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

 

Fresh salmon with rice and greens (entree) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Fresh salmon with rice and greens (entree) at Senzo Restaurant at Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Note the serpents carved into the 15th century Inca stone blocks that form the foundation wall of the former convent, now the Palacio Nazarenas Hotel (photograph, below).

Original 14th century Inca stone block foundation (with carved serpents), upon which the 15th century convent was built that was restored and converted to become Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

Original 15th century Inca stone block foundation (with carved serpents), upon which the 16th century Spanish palace, later a convent, was built that was restored and converted to become Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), opening in 2012, Cuzco, Peru

 

2 thoughts on “Eat local — Belmond Palacio Nazarenas (Hotel), Cuzco, Peru

  1. Cuzco is one of our favorite locations.
    Are you going to climb Huayna Picchu? It’s spectacular!
    Thank you for sharing your travels. Some photos and commentary bring back memories and others whet our appetite for more!
    Happy New Year to you and Robin.
    Stay well,Kathy Korpell AND Chief Chuck

    Like

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