Worshiping the sun in mid-winter Peru.
When: June 24th every year.
Where: Cuzco, Peru.
The Winter Solstice in Cuzco, Peru marks the beginning of a new year with the Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun. The centrepiece being an all-day celebration on June 24 where the Sapa Inca (ancient emperor of the Inca Empire and first born Son of the Sun) and his wife are carried on golden thrones in a procession of elaborately costumed high priests, courtiers and nobles, to an ancient fortress in the hills above the town.
Competition is fierce among actors who come from all over the country to audition for the honour of playing the Sapa Inca or his wife Mama Occla.
They walk along flower-strewn streets, to music and dancing, whilst women sweep the streets in front of them to clear them of evil spirits. At the fortress huge crowds await the arrival of the procession, and the Sapa Inca climbs to the sacred altar where he delivers a speech accompanied by the representatives of the Inca empires; the Snake for the world below, the Puma for life on earth, and the Condor for the upper world of the gods.
A white llama is sacrificed (these days luckily its in a in a very realistic stage act) and the high priest holds up the bloody heart in honor of Mother Earth. This is done to ensure the fertility of the land which with light and warmth from the sun provides a bountiful crop. The priests read the blood stains to see the future for the Inca.
As the sun sets, bonfires and fireworks spark off the party that winds back through the streets to Cuzco.
Food & Drink in Peru
Eat Comida Criolla – traditional Peruvian dishes. Aji de gallina (spicy chicken stew), lomo saltado (stir-fry beef), chupe (fish stew) anticuchos (marinated beef heart). Vegetables are also a main ingredient in these dishes. Drink Peruvian Pisco, grape liqueur
Travel to Peru
From travel books and holiday reading to binocuars and
And don’t forget the camera!