In addition to the architectural vestiges of its great Inca history, the magnificent colonial-era structures built by the Spanish, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, Cusco is also renowned for its living culture. These indigenous traditions reach their greatest expression in Cusco’s many annual festivities. The most famous of these celebrations is the Sun Festival, or Inti Raymi in the Quechua language, held on June 24th.
Cusco’s annual Sun Festival is a revival of the celebrations held by the Incas on the June solstice, and was 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 were 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.
Together, Sacsayhuaman, the main square and Cusco’s historic center form a superb stage for this unique 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 center of Cusco and the area surrounding the great walls and esplanade of Sacsayhuaman, in a display of color that rivals the actual celebrations.
This year, once again groups of travelers from all over the world will be able to enjoy this spectacle thanks to the services provided by Andean Adventures Peru.
For more information about how you can experience for yourself the living culture, ancient history and natural beauty of Peru, contact Andean Adventures Peru directly.