Misti Volcano looming in the background of Arequipa’s skyline is an iconic sight, representing the White City for Peruvians and travelers alike. It was important in pre-Columbian times as well, as shown by the 1998 expedition which uncovered the mummies of six sacrificed Inca youths and other ritual offerings along the innermost of its three concentric craters. Travelers drawn to the volcano can choose between two adventurous ways to experience its majesty first-hand: climbing to its summit, or biking down its sandy slopes.
For the last year Cusco has been anxiously preparing for the festivals of this June and July. As the faithful are setting off on the Qoyllur Rit´i pilgrimage and beautification projects are underway in Machu Picchu Pueblo, the streets of the Imperial City are already starting to fill with costumed dancers and musicians for Intí Raymi, the Festival of the Sun. (We wrote about the celebration in an earlier post.) The Festival´s central day, the 24th of June, falls on the Day of the Peasant (formerly celebrated as Day of the Indian) as well as Cusco´s Anniversary. The celebrations won´t end until they reach their climax on July 7th when Peru celebrates the 100th anniversary of the discovery of Machu Picchu.
Official Program: Friday, 24th of June 2011
This day not only kicks of Intí Raymi, which we wrote about in an earlier post, but is also the day Cusco celebrates its anniversary. No expense has been spared, so be sure to make it to the Imperial City in time!
08:15 The 5th Mountain Brigade hoists the rainbow flag of Tahuantinsuyo
08:30 Cusco´s Archbishop heads Mass and the Te Deum at the Basilica Cathedral
09:00 Act I of Intí Raymi
It all begins with the Sun Greeting at Qorikancha, the Temple of the Sun, as various characters of importance in the time of the Inca empire gather for the Incan Emperor´s Salute to the Sun. Expect the air to fill with the noise of traditional Andean Instruments and conch shells as the streets are covered with flowers for the procession to the Main Square
10:30 Meeting of the Times at the Main Square
From his huaca, Incan altar, the Inca formally addresses the Mayor of Cusco
13:30 Central Ceremony at the Fortress of Sacsayhuamán
The main part of the celebration includes the Chicha de Jora rite, a (realistically faked) black llama sacrifice, and the fire rite. There will be dancing, jubilation, divining from llama blood and viscera, and sacred bonfires.
The dancing, music, and overall celebrating won´t stop at Sacsayhuamán, fairs and concerts will continue throughout the day in the main streets of Cusco.
It´s a lot to get to in one post, so check out our earlier posts on Qoyllur Rit’i and Intí Raymi for some fascinating information about some of the celebrations, and check back here soon to learn where to go and what to do for the big Machu Picchu Centennial.