The Inti Raymi ("sun festival") is a stunning religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti (Quechua for "sun"), one of the most venerated deities in Inca religion. Inti Raymi is also the celebration of the Inca winter solstice, being the shortest day of the year and represents the Inca New Year. The festivities take place in Cusco during this period and ends with a theatrical re-enactment of the Inti Raymi ceremony at Saksaywaman on the 24th of June each year. Saksaywaman is an ancient and stunning Inca citadel located high on the northern outskirts overlooking the city of Cusco. Inti Raymi was created to celebrate the new year in the Andes of the Southern Hemisphere and to indicate the mythical origin of the Incas. The festival lasts for nine days and is filled with beautifully colorful traditional Inca and Spanish folk dances and processions throughout the streets of Cusco as well as animal sacrifices to the Inca god Pachamama in offering for a good harvest season.
What is intriguing with these vibrant celebrations and processions is that they often depict a fusion of both Inca and Spanish culture and religion and thus being a rightful representation of the mixed rich and beautifully unique culture of Peru. Inti Raymi is the busiest time of year for Cusco as local Peruvians (especially those with Inca heritage) and foreign tourists alike flock to the ancient Inca capital to enjoy and partake in the colorful festivities. [Continued below]
The actual Inti Raymi celebration itself commences on the morning of the 24th of June in the front of the Inca Temple of the Sun, Korikancha in central Cusco. From Korokancha the royal entourage continues to Cusco’s Plaza de Armas and then proceeds to passionately dance through the streets of Cusco before they commence the steep ascent up hill to the ancient Inca site of Saqsayhuman. Once at Saqsayhuman you will be presented with stunning views over looking the ancient city of Cusco. For the next three hours you will then witness a re-enactment of the sacrificial ceremony where Incas dressed in full costume will dance to the sound of loud horns, panpipes and beating drums. A true feast for the senses. The ceremony will come to a climax when the First Inca delivers his final words in Quechua before a live llama is sacrificed to appease the Inca god, Pachamama and thus indicating the end of the festivities.
Cusco in a truly amazing place to be during the nine day long Inti Raymi celebrations as the ancient cobblestone streets of Cusco are filled with vibrant and colourful traditional dancing and ceremonies, beautiful music, delicious local Peruvian/Inca cuisines as well as visitors from throughout Peru and all over the world. Please join me and my lens are I take in the amazing sights of the ancient Inca capital during these beautiful celebrations.