Semana Santa in Cusco: A Mix of Andean and Catholic Traditions

Semana-santa-in-Cusco-2015

Semana Santa in Cusco (Holy Week), a mix of Andean and Catholic Traditions, is one of the largest and most important celebrations of the year in Cusco. It marks the events leading up to Christ’s resurrection on the cross and is normally celebrated during the last week or March or the first week of April depending on when Easter falls in the current year. In the Imperial City of the Incas, Cusco, Catholic tradition has mixed with indigenous Andean beliefs to form a unique iteration of a celebration that is found in many cities around the world.

Events begin on Lunes Santo, Holy Monday, with the procession of the black Christ around the Plaza de Armas to Plaza de San Francisco and back again, stopping at other churches along the way. The black Christ, known as Señor de los Temblores or Lord of Earthquakes, is representative of the mix of Catholic and indigenous beliefs in Holy Week. (more…)

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Buying Peruvian Textiles in Cusco

peruvian-textiles

Textiles are important in Peru. They have been since pre-Columbian times. They have been since pre-Incan times. They continued to be important despite attempts by the Spanish to destroy indigenous culture and identity, and they are still important today thanks to renewed interest in studying and preserving indigenous culture.

Unsurprisingly, part of the importance of textiles today is economic. Who doesn’t love brightly colored, super soft, or elaborately patterned gifts to take back home to friends and family? Heck, that souvenir might not even make it back home, you’ll end up stealing your sister’s scarf for yourself on the air-conditioned airplane ride. From textiles rendered into modern-day bags, purses, and shoes to more traditional textiles like the liqlla (blanket), jakima (small ribbon), and chullo (knitted men’s hat), there are a range of gorgeous products that fill every market and standout in shop window displays. With all the variety, it can sometimes be overwhelming. How do you know what type of hat to get your dad when there are thousandsof different kinds and thousands of different people selling? How do you find the best deal or the best quality? Where can you find fair trade items? Find the answers in this Guide to Buying Textiles in Cusco.

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The Day of Creole Song and Halloween

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Every year on October 31, Peru celebrates the Day of la Canción Criolla (Creole Song). The main celebrations always take place on the Peruvian coast, where the ‘musica criolla’ is rooted, but it’s also celebrated in the Andean highlands where the music is mixed with regional music and styles that already exist.

Creole Music has suffered from influences of the international music. Hip Hop, Reggaeton, Salsa, Rock, Pop, Cumbia, and Chicha have all weakened the Creole of Peru, but at the same time it’s still very much alive.
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Cusco’s most famous photographer Martin Chambi

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Currently, throughout the city center of Cusco, you will find large format photos taken by Martin Chambi (1891-1973). The images are placed at the exact spot that Chambi took them in the mid-20th century. Chambi was an indigenous photographer from Peru, born in Coaza, on the north of Lake Titicaca. He is considered one of the great figures of photography and was a member of the Cusco School of Photography.

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Pilgrimage of Señor de Huanca in Cusco

Peregrinación del Señor de Huanca en Cusco

Each year on September 14th, Peruvians and people from neighboring countries (mainly Bolivia) come to walk the Pilgrimage route of Señor de Huanca close to Cusco. At almost 50 kilometers from the Inca capital, at a height of 3,100 meters (up to 4,250 meters), it is a tough and cold 6 hour hike in the middle of the night. At the end of the trail there is a painting of a wounded Christ on a rock greeting you. The pilgrimages arriving at the spot will cleanse in the pure waters of the spring, hoping for good karma for the rest of the year. Prior to the day of the walk a week filled with festivities takes place.
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Peru, home of the potato

Peru, home of the potato

All though for many many years the potatoe was consired “peruvian”, since 2008 there has been a high-rising conflict between Peru and neighbor Chile. Both countries have been fighting for years about which of them can be considered ‘the home’ of the potato. Fact is that scientists all believe potatoes have originated from the Andes in Peru. Well over 100 potato cultivators can be found in just one valley in Peru! Some of the oldest archeological finds were located around Lake Titicaca. The potato began it’s career in food culture between 2000 and 3000 BC and continues today with many different colors, flavors, sizes and textures.

The potato was first introduced in Europe by Spanish explorers. Coming back home from their South-American expeditions in 1536 they brought potato plants with them. The Inca’s had been cultivating the plant for hundreds of years; Spanish monks started to spread the potato to other European countries. They planted potato plants in the gardens of their monasteries. Soon different races arose and people started to breed crosses. Nowadays there are more than 4000 different kinds of potatoes in the world.
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Inti Raymi Brings the Inca Past to Life

Celebrating Inti Raymi in Cusco

June is the month of “Fiestas de Cusco” and here in this magical place we have been celebrating all the festivals: the rebuilding of the Q´eswachaka Bridge, Qoyllur Rit´i, Corpus Christi, and the other daily parades in the Plaza de Armas. The city is growing with anticipation as the biggest and most important celebration, Inti Raymi, is coming up soon.  This Festival of the Sun takes place on June 24th when the sun is farthest away from the earth. This traditional, Inca celebration worships the sun and pleads for its return.

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Cusco Celebrates Corpus Christi Like No Place Else

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Cusco is always a fun city full of surprises, but especially during the month of June there is never a dull moment. Roads in the Plaza de Armas are closed off as parades with bands, dancers, and colorful costumes decoraCusco is always a fun city full of surprises, but especially during the month of June there is never a dull moment. Roads in the Plaza de Armas are closed off as parades with bands, dancers, and colorful costumes decorate the cobblestone streets. One of the largest and first celebrations in the old capital of the Inca Empire itself is Corpus Christi, which kicks off the “Fiestas de Cusco”. Sixty days after Easter, fifteen saints and virgins from different districts of Cusco all come to the main Cathedral to greet the body of Christ. This year it will start around 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 19th.
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Qoyllur Rit’i and other important festivals take place in June in Cusco

Qoyllur Rit’i and other important festivals take place in June in Cusco

During the month of June, Cusco and its surrounding areas turn into one big, continuous fiesta. Cusco flags adorn the main Plaza de Armas, traditional music is played continuously, and kids practice their dances in the main squares. All of these details remind the people every day that it is the most important month of the year for Cusco with important festivals, such as: Qoyllur Rit´i, Corpus Christi, and Inti Raymi. The first celebration, Qoyllur Rit´i, is the largest Native Indian celebration in the Americas and takes place in the Sinakara Valley in the southern Andes of Peru.
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