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Inti Raymi: the history of the great festival of Cusco

Inti Raymi: the history of the great festival of Cusco

In Cusco, the month of June is a synonym of Inti Raymi. Since Inca times, these days the streets of the imperial city are filled with celebrations in honor of Inti, the Sun God. What is the origin of this festival? How did the Incas live this month? Here we tell you all the details of the biggest party in Cusco.


inti_raymi_inca_rail_4During Inca times, Cusco was the scene of four major festivals, the most important of them was the Inti Raymi. This festival had its first appearance with the Inca Pachacutec around 1430.

The Incas met every winter solstice in the imperial city to welcome the Sun God. On the night of June 23 to 24, the torches of the Tahuantinsuyo were extinguished to await the sunrise.

At this time, up to 50000 people arrived in Cusco from all points of the empire to be part of the celebrations that lasted about 15 days. During these two weeks, all the attendees, included the Inca and his family, priests, nobles and other personalities of the Tahuantinsuyo, met in the current Plaza de Armas. In this place, they danced, drank chicha, burned coca leaves and, according to historians, sacrificed around 200 llamas in honor of Inti.

All these celebrations were carried out to thank this god for the harvests of the year and for everything facilitated on earth. Thus, on June 24, the Inca arrived at the Plaza de Armas to await the sunrise and toast with a glass of chicha, from which his family also drank and whose remains were thrown to the ground. After this, they made a pilgrimage to the temple of Qorikancha, where they continued with the celebrations.

Due to the importance of this celebration, June 24 and the Inti Raymi party marked the beginning of a new year for the Incas.


The Inti Raymi in the colonial era

With the arrival of the Spaniards, the Incas had to abandon all their traditions because they were considered pagan. Thus, in 1572 the Viceroy Francisco de Toledo prohibited the celebration of the Inti Raymi but the people from Cusco do it clandestinely.

For this reason, the Inti Raymi did not see the streets of Cusco until 1944 when the Peruvian writer and actor Francisco Espinoza Navarro made a reconstruction of the great Inca festival based on the writings left by the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

This reconstruction was successful and the people from Cusco decided to continue doing it year after year until today.

The Inti Raymi today

Currently, the Inti Raymi is undoubtedly one of the most important parties in Cusco. Every June 24 thousands of tourists arrive in the imperial city to enjoy the various celebrations that take place in the temple of Qorikancha, the Plaza de Armas and the fortress of Sacsayhuaman.

Sacsayhuaman is, without a doubt, the most magical place to enjoy this event. Around 750 actors gather in the esplanade of the fortress and, dressed in costumes of the time and with the rhythm of the Andean music, they perform a representation of what this festival was for the Incas.

Farmer’s Day and Day of Cusco

The importance of the Inti Raymi in the imperial city has also been reflected in other events. On the one hand, Peru celebrates the Farmer’s Day on June 24, because this is the perfect day to ask for the harvests.

On the other hand, the Government of this city decided to name June 24 as Day of Cusco and in this way it shows the great importance of this festival for the imperial city.


How to see the Inti Raymi

The Inti Raymi party is one of those things that you have to enjoy at least once in your life. For this, you have several options:
– If you want to see the show on Qorikancha, you should know that there are no tickets, but the people is located on the outskirts of the temple and from there they see the entire representation

inti_raymi_inca_rail_5– If you would like to see everything that happens in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco, we recommend you to go very early to get a gap between the arcades, since the rest of the square is closed for performances to take place. Also, you can reserve a space in any of the bars and restaurants that are in the Plaza de Armas and from whose balconies you will have a privileged view. Of course: you will have to pay more than the rest of the days since the prices vary in these restaurants during the performances.

– If you want to experience the magic in the fortress of Sacsayhuamán, you will have to buy your tickets well in advance (they go on sale approximately three months before the event and you can do it via web). The price of the tickets is 100 or 150 dollars, depending on the seats you choose and those under 12 have a discount of 50%.

The Inti Raymi is the best way to understand what nature meant for the Incas. Come visit us and live a unique experience in this great celebration!