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Inti Raymi:

4 fun facts about the Peruvian Festival of the Sun

Erika Paixão

Heinz Plenge Pardo/Promperú, Publicity/Promperú

Learn more about the Peruvian Festival of the Sun, which takes place in different tourist sites in Cusco and attracts up to 200,000 people

 

Every year, the Sun is the protagonist of Inti Raymi, a ceremony created by the Incas over six centuries ago. Always on June 24, a date close to the winter solstice, the city of Cusco transforms for the festival – which had LATAM as the official airline for the 12th consecutive year. In the past, the Incas believed they were the children of the Sun. These days, Peruvians are proud of this tradition and they keep it alive at each festival. Next, four fun facts will give you a hint of what the celebration is like.

 

1 - Inti Raymi is one of the biggest festivals in Peru

The numbers are staggering. It’s estimated that the date was established in 1430 by Inca Pachacutec. At the time, the festival lasted for two weeks, with dance performances and offerings to the sun god, Inti (hence the name Inti Raymi, which in Quechua means ‘Festival of the Sun’). In 2019, around 200,000 people went to Cusco for the festival, which had over 700 actors.

 

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2 – The Festival of the Sun marked the beginning of a new year on the Inca calendar

For ancient peoples, Inti Raymi represented a new beginning, as it ended a harvest cycle to start a new one. These days, it’s a way to keep this ancestral culture alive and honor the grandiosity of Cusco traditions.

 

3 – Three tourist sites in Cusco are part of the celebration itinerary

The spectacle begins at the complex of Qorikancha, also known as Temple of the Sun. It was built in the 15th century as a temple to worship the god Inti and its structure was once adorned with gold sheets. 

From there, the colorful procession heads to Plaza de Armas, the heart of the historic city center in Cusco and a World Heritage Site since 1983. It’s also home to the Cusco Cathedral and Iglesia de la Compañia de Jesús. 

 

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The pinnacle takes place on the Esplanade of Sacsayhuamán, where the audience watches the show from the bleachers. In this archaeological complex, 1.2 miles from Plaza de Armas, you can admire the architectural legacy of the Incas, who built walls that are almost 985-foot long using just massive rocks that perfectly fit together.

Complex of Qorikancha: Calle Santo Domingo, Cusco’s historic city center 
Plaza de Armas or Plaza Mayor del Cusco: between Portal de Comercio, Portal Belen, and Portal de Panes
Esplanade of Sacsayhuamán: close to Calle Don Bosco

 

 

4 – Inti Raymi is a Cultural Heritage of the country

The festival hasn’t always been this prestigious, being prohibited by Spanish Viceroy Francisco de Toledo in 1572, who claimed it was pagan. Despite the ban, the event continued to be held in secret until 1944, when its itinerary was reformulated and the date was added to the city’s official calendar again. The 2019 edition marks the 75th anniversary of the recreation of the festival, which was declared a National Cultural Heritage in 2001.