As you may know, Cusco is not just a magical city with historical places but also a mystical location based on celebrations that existed during the Inca Empire until today, so let’s talk about the Inti Raymi, a fascinating festival that commemorates the Inca heritage and its adoration to the Sun, their god.
The Inti Raymi is also known as the Festival of the Sun, this festival marks the Winter Solstice and honors Inti, the Incan Sun God, it is important to know that Peru is in the southern hemisphere its winter season won’t be similar to other countries.
The festival takes place On the 24th of June every year it is performed at the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman. Tourists and locals gather to watch the festival taking place. It’s an excellent experience to make you feel as though you are being swept back into the time of the Incas and to give you a good idea of how life was like back then.
People wanted to learn more about this fascinating ancient culture so right after the discovery of Machu Picchu in 1911 old traditions started being brought back and the lost city brought with it lost traditions too, but what exactly happens on this very special day? Let’s start by talking about actors, the real performers, people who bring us back to the past and show us the power of the Incas all over their lands and how important it was for them to thank their god for everything they got as a blessing.
It really takes months of practice! You will see over 500 actors wearing traditional costumes that are very well made, and the ceremony actually lasts the whole day passing through 2 points in the city before reaching Sacsayhuaman there is no doubt that prior preparation to this event is taken seriously in order to express trough their performance every single detail of importance for Incas and their respect for the Sun.
Just Imagine seeing this magnificent site with golden life-sized corns and gold-fleeced alpacas on the lawn. It must have been incredible right? here is where this beautiful Temple called Q’oricancha takes the role as it was home to many Incan mummies that were wrapped in the finest clothes and set to rest on golden thrones forevermore. Unfortunately, upon seeing this wonderful building, the Spaniards took all the gold they could find, leaving only the stone construction that was underneath. This is what we can see today so If you want to see the start of Inti Raymi from here you need to get there very early in the morning seriously really early.
They make their way to the Plaza de Armas where the ‘Incas’ stop for a short while to perform a part of the ceremony. The best way to see this is to get to a balcony on one of the restaurants or cafes that surround it and watch it all from there, but wait ! this is just the first stop they will do before reaching Sacsayhuaman where the main part of the ceremony will take place, so make sure to separate 3 hours of your daily schedule in order to see the ceremony performance, assure to wear comfortable walking shoes or sneakers, sunscreen, hat, water, and some snacks as the walk could be a little exhausting if you are not used to walking long distances.
The Sacsayhuaman ruins are packed with those visitors who have managed to get hold of event tickets, whilst thousands more climb the hills and mountains around the ancient fortress to catch a glimpse. The Inca and selected nobles ascend to the ushnu (alter) give speeches in Quechua, paying homage to the Sun.
The most audience gets a little bit impressed when a peculiar ritual is being held, this is called the sacrifice of the Llama where this animal is sacrificed in order to show respect and gratitude to the God Sun, but it is important to mention that is just a fake sketch with no animal being killed, the idea is to show exactly how this used to happen in those times.
Here is something you should know as important facts.
The first Inti Raymi ceremony was held in 1412, this event was then suppressed and forbidden by Spanish conquistadors; as it was observed as a pagan ceremony, the opposite to their Catholic faith and traditions. However, it began once again in 1944 based on the writings of Garcilaso de la Vega, who was a poet and writer on those times bringing back in this way this very important ceremony the Festival of the Sun has come under criticism recently among older audiences for being too ‘staged’ but younger audiences, including local students, use it as an important time to celebrate Peruvian music, perform authentic folk dances and commemorate its history with street entertainment – this begins a week prior to the ceremony itself.
The Incas classed themselves as “Sun Masters” building their fortresses high into the sky as a means of getting ever closer to the sun. Their fortresses were seen as their tribute to the sun and the power that it holds – Qoricancha is an example of this.
Book your Machu Picchu tour! if you are in Cusco in June near the 24th don’t miss out on the opportunity to be part of this amazing, traditional and cultural event, you can purchase the entrance ticket in order to have a seat at Sacsayhuaman and be comfortable and is recommendable to do it with some time in advance.
While in Cusco!
If you are looking for some traditional shopping in Cusco then San Pedro Market is a good and unique option when it comes to mixing some cultural experience with traditional purchasing, Local markets are a very important part of the Peruvian culture because they offer a great look at the day-to-day life of the local people and their traditions. San Pedro market is located in the heart of Cusco, really close to the Plaza de Armas.
Lots of tourists enjoy a visit to the San Pedro market. Even when you don’t plan on buying anything, a visit there is just a new experience. There are a lot of fascinating attractions you will get when exploring this vast local market. We are sure you will enjoy walking around this place. Facebook.