AROUND CUSCO, Chinchero, Andahuaylillas and San Pedro

CHINCHERO

Located 28 kilometers northwest of Cusco, the sleepy Andean town of Chinchero is one of the best places in the valley for Andean textiles and essentials like hats, gloves, and shawls.

With stunning views of the Salcantay and Vilcabamba mountain ranges, this traditional Andean town will captivate visitors with its natural beauty and cultural integrity. In the main square, which does dominate by a formidable Inca wall made up of enormous stones and ten trapezoidal niches, are the famous markets of Chinchero.

Here you’ll be greeted by boisterous artisan vendors dressed in traditional clothing and eager to catch your eye (and secure a purchase). The market does divide into two sections, one focused on handicrafts and the other on agricultural products.

On Sunday, the busiest day, the Chinchero markets seem more authentic than the Pisac markets. For the best bargaining opportunities, visit the markets on Tuesdays or Thursdays, when it’s less crowded. If you’re looking for a lively atmosphere, you can see the more prominent and flashier Pisac market.

ANDAHUAYLILLAS AND SAN PEDRO

This small colonial town, located 37 kilometers south of Cusco, is home to one of the most beautiful churches in Peru. Whether or not St. Peter’s is the “Sistine Chapel of the Americas,” as some have claimed, is a hotly debated topic (and we’ll leave it up to you). Built-in 1631 in the Spanish tradition, the church bombards visitors with an explosion of Baroque art and religious imagery on ancient Inca foundations.

In contrast to its rather dull exterior, the church’s interior is lavishly decorated with wall-to-wall colonial paintings from the Escuela Cuzqueña, frescoes, and painted ceilings. The altars and wood carvings are gold leaves to keep with the decadent theme. Also worth seeing is a mural by Luis de Riaño, strikingly depicting the road to heaven and the highway to hell, each paved with its own set of haunting images.

The town is visually appealing, with a charming plaza covered in red-flowered Pisonay trees. What can combine most tours to Andahuaylillas with trips to the ruins of Rumicolca and Pikillacta? If your visit to San Pedro was not spiritual enough, you could always head to the KONDOR PATH TOURS Ceremonial center.

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