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Sacred Valley Day Trip: Chincero, Peru

A visit the Chincero site in Peru is a truly unforgettable experience. Chinchero is higher elevation than Cusco, and is located between Cusco and Urubamba. This historical and cultural site is located in the Andes Mountains and is believed to have been used by the indigenous people of the region for spiritual and religious purposes. It is a small town that claims to be the birthplace of the rainbow. The town is full of steep roads and many stairs.

Chincero is located about 45 minutes outside of Cusco. To visit the site, you can use a collectivo, taxi, or join a tour group. There are many day tours offered that will take visitors to one or more Incan sites in the Sacred Valley from Cusco. Most of these day tours pick up visitors at their hotel and include multiple sites. I would also suggest wearing good shoes, bringing a hat, sunscreen, and water, as the high altitude and sun can be quite intense.

It was a typical July Peruvian day.... cold in the early morning but hot by mid-morning. I spent the day exploring the Chinchero Ruins, located in the town of Chinchero. This site was once a major religious center and is known for its well-preserved agricultural terraces and impressive stone walls. I was struck by the beauty of the site and the ingenuity of the Incans in using the land for farming. Admission is 10 soles ($3) and the site is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Chincero town is not just a hub for tourists and an archeological site, but also a vibrant and bustling community of locals who are proud of their heritage. Incan Tupac Yupanqui, son of Pachacutec, used the town as a holiday and relaxation center. He ordered the building of aqueducts and terraces.

The town is known for its traditional crafts and textiles (more on that later), including beautifully woven blankets and ponchos made from Alpaca wool. Visitors can also enjoy a delicious meal of traditional Peruvian cuisine at one of the town's many local restaurants. For meat eaters, I highly recommend lomo saltado, a delicious stewed preparation of meat, onions, annd tomatoes served with rice.

Before arriving at the main site, visitors will walk through the town. Chincero Church is another example of the Spanish conquest destroying important Incan sites. The Spanish destroyed most of the original palace and built a Catholic Church in the area. The 17th-century murals are a combination of bible stories by Incan artists who weaved their own history into the artwork.

There was a large battle fought between the Inca and the Spanish. The Spanish won. The murals show scenes of the battle.

The Chincero site is rich in history and legends. The Incas believed this site to be sacred and used it to worship the sun, moon, and stars. According to local myths, the site was also believed to have been a place where the sun was born. The site has also been used for astronomical observations and has served as a center for trade and commerce.

Upon arriving at the Chincero site, one of the first things you will see is the well-preserved ruins of an Inca palace. The palace is believed to have been used by the Inca emperors as a place of refuge and rest during their travels through the region. Visitors can also see the remains of an Inca road, which was used for trade and communication between different parts of the empire.

The Inca walls and terraces remain. The terraces were built for decoration and to prevent erosion. Farming continues deep in the valley below. There are many aqueducts and channels that ensure water goes safely into the valley and into the Urubamba River.

The soil of Chinchero is some of the most fertile in the Sacred Valley. The most popular crop continues to be potatoes. Peru has over 3,000 varieties of potatoes. They also grow quinoa, oca, and fava beans.

The potatoes are spread over the terraces to dry. During the Spanish invasion, the Inca relied upon their vast stores of dried potatoes to survive.

While in the area, make time to visit the Centro de Textiles Tradicionales del Cusco, or the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, is a must-visit for anyone interested in Peruvian culture and textiles. It is dedicated to preserving and promoting the traditional textile arts of the region, showcasing the rich cultural heritage and diverse techniques of the indigenous peoples of Cusco.

Upon entering the museum, visitors are greeted by a beautiful display of traditional textiles, including intricate weavings, colorful ponchos, and hand-embroidered bags. The museum also has a library and research center, where visitors can learn more about the history and significance of traditional textiles in the region. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, and they are more than happy to answer any questions and provide information about the textiles on display.

One of the highlights of my visit was the opportunity to see the textiles being created firsthand. The museum offers workshops and demonstrations, where visitors can watch local artisans as they weave and embroider traditional textiles using techniques passed down through the generations. It was truly awe-inspiring to see the skill and creativity of these artisans and to learn about the cultural and historical significance of their work.

One of the local Quechuan weavers explained the process of spinning and colouring the alpaca wool. The raw alpaca wool is shredded into hot water and then drained and dried.

Next, the women hand spin the rough wool into threads. Everywhere you go in this area, women are constantly spinning. Colour is added from natural ingredients. The white alpaca threads are dipped into the dye. By adding lemon or salt, different shades of colour are achieved. The colour is then set by using children’s urine. No child over the age of 14 can contribute because their urine may be contaminated by alcohol... the purity of the urine is highly prized.

The dyed wool is then hung to dry before being rolled into balls of yarn, ready to use in weaving or knitting.

A visit to Chincero is a must for anyone interested in the history and culture of the Andes Mountains. This site offers a glimpse into the rich heritage of the region and provides a unique opportunity to learn about the legends, myths, and spiritual beliefs of the Incas. With its well-preserved ruins and breathtaking views, Chincero is sure to leave a lasting impression on all who visit.


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