Sacsayhuamán, Cusco, Peru
Inti Raymi is the Sun Festival in the Quechua language, the most important Inca festival. This ancient Andean religious ceremony is celebrated every June 24th in Cuzco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, in honour of the sun god Inti. Various rites (invocation to the sun, sacred fire, distribution of chicha, sacred bread, llama sacrifice…) animate the Sun Festival, a spectacle that is very popular with the local communities and which is part of the Peruvian national cultural heritage.
Did you know that?
- Inti Raymi was held every winter solstice in June when the sun is furthest from the Earth (this is both the shortest day and the longest night of the year). This event corresponds to the first day in the Inca solar calendar and coincides with the beginning of the corn harvest among the pre-Hispanic populations of the Andes, including the Incas, Quechua and Aymara. It also refers to the origins of the Inca people. This event is an opportunity for the inhabitants to thank the Father Sun and Mother Earth for the abundance of arable land.
- Traditionally, the Inti Raymi festivities took place in three historical places in Cuzco: the Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun), the Haukaypata (public square renamed Plaza de Armas by the conquistadors) and then on the esplanade of the imposing fortress of Sacsayhuamán. Today this event has a tourist dimension and takes place mainly on the site of Sacsayhuamán. A procession gives rise to an abundance of colour, dance and traditional music using pututos (wind instruments made from a mollusc shell), quepas (a kind of trumpet made from hollow cane) and tinyas (small leather drums used as percussion instruments).
- The Inca emperor Pachacútec created this ceremony for the first time in the 15th century. It lasted several days to the rhythm of dances and sacrifices (human and animal) in the main square of Cuzco (Haukaypata). Three days before the beginning of the festivities, as a purification, the adults had to avoid any sexual intercourse and only raw white corn could be eaten with a grass called chucam. The last Sun Festival under the aegis of an Inca emperor took place in 1535 (under the reign of Manco Capac II). It was declared forbidden and then definitively abolished in 1572 by the 5th Viceroy of Peru, the Spaniard Francisco de Toledo, who considered it contrary to the Catholic faith. Nevertheless, it continued to be celebrated clandestinely by the people. The Inti Raymi was officially re-established in 1944.
- Each Andean community has its own rites and customs for the celebration of the Feast of the Sun.
- Book your accommodation in Cusco in advance.
- Festival tickets are usually sold the day before the event.
- Admission is charged to attend the main ceremony on the esplanade of the archaeological site of Sacsayhuamán (count 70 to €100 for adults and 35 to €50 for children).
Telephone: +51 (0)84 226711