Peru 2 – Cusco and the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman

12th – 15th June – Cusco, the old capital of the Inca Empire at 3500m. declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by high hills and dominated by the ceremonial centre and fortress of Sacsayhuaman, only a few minutes walk from where we are camping at Quinta Lala, high above the city.

                                            IMG 0227 

There are spectacular views of the city and surrounding hills as we walk into town, down through steep and narrow, cobbled streets lined with traditional craft stalls and shops.

                    IMG 9295      IMG 9377     IMG 9203   IMG 9286 

You are spoilt for choice if choosing beautiful clothes made from alpaca and vicuna, or buying jewellery and silver.

The Centre for Traditional Textiles of Cusco in Avenida del Sol, is a very special place to visit.  Established in 1996, its aim is to aid the survival of  Andean textile traditions and to provide support for the nine weaving communities that it currently works with.  The textiles here are of an excellent quality, the designs, colours, sizes and materials varying according to the region and serving as a symbol of cultural identity and pride.  There are often weaving demonstrations inside the shop, which are fascinating to watch.  

                                         IMG 0231 

IMG 0236 IMG 0229

                                                    IMG 0233

We discover Cusco to be a very relaxed but incredibly interesting, energetic and colourful city, with so many places to visit, shops to browse and an excellent choice of restaurants and cafes whatever your taste or budget.

The Plaza de Armas is surrounded by fine historical buildings, including the Cathedral and other churches, shops and restaurants.  It is the heart of the city where everyone meets and where everything happens.

IMG 9257 IMG 9234

          IMG 9254                  IMG 9255

IMG 9283 IMG 9248

Whilst we are here, traditional dancing and parades are taking place daily in front of the cathedral, leading up to the big festival of Inti Raymi on 24th June.

IMG 9218 IMG 9239

IMG 9310 IMG 9309

                 IMG 9226                           IMG 9331

The children’s procession and day of dancing is particularly spectacular with so many different and very colourful costumes.

                                             IMG 9449

          IMG 9298          IMG 9318

          IMG 9326   IMG 9336

           IMG 9343 IMG 9450

                                               IMG 9351

                                           IMG 9371

However, there are many different groups to perform, the procession is extremely long, the sun is very hot and so, for very small children, there is a lot of waiting in the streets, which are also completely gridlocked.  There are angels sucking lollipops to pacify them, a few are getting tearful or looking bewildered, whilst others are becoming frustrated with their itchy hats and costumes.  The older children are more confident and have all the moves to the music down to perfection.  And all the while, the mums are fussing over them, re-arranging clothes, straightening hats, cleaning noses and giving encouraging words.  Children make such wonderfully natural photos!

          IMG 9369         IMG 9358

IMG 9340 IMG 9303

  IMG 9357 IMG 9372

   IMG 9374           IMG 9446

We buy tickets (130 sol each) which will cover entrance to a number of places, including many of the Inca ruins, museums and art galleries.  We visit the Museo of Arte Contemporaneo…….

IMG 9261 IMG 9262

…….the Museo Historico Regional……

IMG 9265   IMG 9269

                                IMG 9279  

….and the Museo de Arte Popular with exhibits of sculptures, ceramic, photography and other works of art by renowned contemporary Cusco craftsmen, this latter museum being particularly interesting with so much intricate work.

IMG 9378 IMG 9381

                                     IMG 9383 

                                        IMG 9387

Our tickets also provide entrance to the Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo, where the daily evening performance, includes typical music and dances of various provinces and communities of the Cusco region.  When we come out, we discover the city is still very much alive at night, with groups of musicians and young people dancing in the side streets and in front of the cathedral.  Music and dancing seem to be an important part of their lives, along with the beautiful weavings, colourful art work and fantastic pottery.  There are many street sellers with all kinds of things to sell, guys carrying their folders of art work, hoping to sell their paintings and more guys wanting to shine your shoes. Two flags are always flying throughout the city – the Peruvian one and the ‘rainbow’ flag of Tuhuantinsuyo, which represents the 4 corners of the Inca empire.

Whilst in Cusco, we get a gas bottle filled by Llama Gas on the outskirts of town and get insurance with Mapfre  for our Land Rover. We are always asked to produce this at all the police check points that we are stopped at.

Back at Quinta Lala it is nice to see Karen and Coen (from Holland) once again and meet up with Adam, Emily and little Colette, only two and a half years but very independent – all having travelled south from California. 

                                                                IMG 9503

We visit the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman, where the remains and foundations of a colossal structure formed by three-tiered defense walls, have survived past battles, earthquakes and the passage of time.

IMG 9501 IMG 9476

Because of its very steep approach from the city, it only needed defensive walls on one side and these enormous stones, some oof which weigh many tons, fit together in a zigzag design with razor-sharp, mortar-less precision.

IMG 9489 IMG 9485

IMG 9493  IMG 9496

At night, the city never fails to impress, spread out below us like a mass of twinkling fairy lights.

IMG 9441 IMG 9452

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Peru. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s