Kausachun Qosqo! Haylli Qosqo!
Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun is held every June 24th. This is Cusco´s most important festival and it attracts thousands of local, Peruvian as well as foreign visitors from all over the world.
This feast, which celebrates the winter solstice, starts at the Qorikancha or Temple of the Sun at 9am. Then, it continues at the main square (10:30) and it wraps up at Sacsayhuaman (2pm).
You do not need to pay anything at the first two places other than being early to get a good spot. At Sacsayhuaman, however, you may pay beforehand in order to have a seat and get a closer look to the event. Otherwise, you can mingle with local people on the hills that surround this site for free.
Cristóbal de Molina, one of the earliest Spanish chroniclers, states in his `Relación de las Fábulas y Ritos de los Incas´ that the Incas:
“comenzaron a contar el año mediado mayo, a primero día de la luna, en el cual hacían las ceremonias siguientes, llamadas intipraymi, que quiere decir fiestas del Sol”.
Molina depicted this feast basically as a pilgrimage toward the source of the Vilcanota River, southbound from Cusco. They went south as they believed the sun got birth from that direction.
As the incas walked south, they stopped at sacred places every day in order to worship the sun and make sacrifices by burning llamas, coca, maize and shell known as mullo or mullu.
Sacrificies were also done at the Temple of the Sun or Qoricancha three times a day. At dawn, they sacrificed a llama at Huanacauri hill and at sunset another one at Aspiran hill in the Puquin or Poquencancha area nowadays.
Molina says that on the way back, the incas stopped at a place called Mantucalla where a huge party was celebrated. At the end of this month, the inca headed for the main square which was known as Aucaypata at inca times, and the feast was over then.
Molina lived in Cusco from 1564 until he died there in 1585. He was priest of the Hospital de los Naturales, and he was one of the most renowned quechua speakers of his time.
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