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Cusco’s famous Festival of the Sun

Every June in Cusco, the city plays host to the Inti Raymi Inca sun god ceremony

In addition to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, the vestiges of its great Inca architecture and the magnificent colonial-era structures erected by the Spanish, Cusco is renowned for its thriving living culture. The indigenous traditions of the people of the Andes achieve their greatest expression in Cusco’s many annual festivities, and the most famous of these celebrations is the Sun Festival, or Inti Raymi as it is known in the Quechua language. The ceremony is held every year on June 24th.

Cusco’s annual sun festival is a revival of the celebration held by the Incas on the winter solstice, an event faithfully reconstructed in Quechua from the Spanish chronicles by a group of Cusco intellectuals in 1944, who chose June 24th because it was already a national holiday, during which Peru’s rural peasant class was celebrated.

While the main events of the festival take place at the ruins of Sacsayhuaman, the Inca fortified temple complex located on the hill visible from Cusco’s main square, the day’s rituals begin at the Inca Temple of the Sun, or Qorikancha, over which the Spanish built Santo Domingo church. From this ancient religious site, the two Cusco citizens chosen to personify for a day the Inca emperor and his consort are carried through Cusco’s historic center on litters, followed by their entourage of courtiers and warriors.

The megalithic ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Cusco’s main square and the streets of the city’s historic center combine to form a superb stage for this major event. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Inti Raymi is the enormous popularity it enjoys with the ordinary people of the Cusco region. Crowds numbering several thousand gather each year from far and wide, filling the streets of Cusco and the area surrounding the great walls and esplanade of Sacsayhuaman, in a display of color that rivals the celebrations themselves.

This year, once again groups of travelers from all over the world will be able to enjoy this traditional spectacle thanks to the services provided by Andean Adventures Peru.

If you’d like to experience the destinations and activities mentioned in this article, contact us and we’ll help you create your Peru vacation!
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