Chinchero, the ultimate guide
The best information about the textile town in Cusco
Cusco - Peru
Nicole Maxdeo
May 6, 2024

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It is here, amidst so much tradition and a population with living culture, that the Incan ancestors decided to form this unbreakable civilization, the largest in America. Chinchero is located in Urubamba, 40 minutes from Cusco. Known for its craftsmanship and textiles, let’s learn more about this town in northern Cusco.

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Today, Chinchero represents one of the attractive points of the city of Cusco and has inhabitants among indigenous communities that still maintain the system of the ayllus. These communities still keep alive the traditions that date back to the time of the Tawantinsuyu.

History of Chinchero

Historians indicate that Chinchero was founded by the Inca Tupac Yupanqui, who used it as a residence. This same Inca ordered the construction of enclosures, shrines, terraces, and the grand royal palace in 1480. Many chronicles indicate that this ruler died in somewhat dubious circumstances at this residence. Many believe he was poisoned by his favorite princess, Chiqui Ocllo. Others claim that Mama Ocllo herself might have been responsible for this death. In the power struggle, all supporters of Chiqui Ocllo, including the princess, were exterminated. The Inca's son, Capac Huari, was confined for life in the prison of Chinchero.

Around the year 1540, Manco Inca, after fleeing to Vilcabamba, set fire to Chinchero to prevent the Spaniards from being able to supply themselves.

Where is Chinchero located?

Chinchero is located at almost 3700 meters above sea level, about 30 km from the city of Cusco. This archaeological center and town are located in the province of Urubamba, department of Cusco. Its location is on an Andean plain, so frigid and icy winds are characteristic. During the Inca period, it was located along a road believed to lead to Machu Picchu. This route began from the Carminca neighborhood (currently the Santa Ana neighborhood), continued along the Senca hill, very close to Lake Piuray.

About the customs of Chinchero

In Chinchero, craft fairs are common occurrences that take place on Sundays in the Main Square. With these traditions, despite modernity, we can still observe the presence of Incan practices such as bartering. This practice involves the exchange of products for others.

During these fairs, most vendors sell garments made of sheep, llama, or alpaca wool and some ceramics.

The temple of Chinchero

This church is structured by Inca stone walls mixed with colonial features. The interior walls and the ceiling of the temple are covered with filigrees and religious portraits. Likewise, on the wall you can see a prominent painting of the Virgin Nativity, this canvas was portrayed by Francisco Chihuantito in 1693.

The Niches

Very close to the church, we can see walls of assembled polyhedra that form retaining walls like platforms.

The Murals

In the Chinchero temple we can see murals that show the importance of religion in this town. Likewise, we can see in these expressions the Inca mixture with the painting of the procession of the chief Pumacahua and the defeat of Túpac Amaru. As part of the demonstrated syncretism, on the ceiling you can see the fight between two mythological beings: a puma bites the neck of a dragon or Amaru.

Chinchero and his clothing

In Chinchero, local people wear yarns and textiles typical of the area with not so bright colors and wool from alpaca, llamas or sheep. The men wear vests and cloth pants, as well as ponchos and multicolored chullos. The women wear black skirts with red edges, ponchos and small braids.

Many of the ancestral traditions have been passed from generation to generation, this is the case of the women who have inherited the art of spinning and weaving. In Chinchero it is very typical to learn to dye threads and wool with natural products such as purple corn, chinchilla, etc.

What places to visit in Chinchero?

The Piuray Lagoon

This lagoon is located very close to the town and is the main source of water supply for Cusco. It was the Incas who were able to distribute these waters through aqueducts.
In this lagoon you can do activities such as paddle or kayak. The view from this lagoon is very privileged, surrounded by mountains and snow-capped peaks.

The Huaypo Lagoon

Huaypo, without a doubt, over the years has become an attraction for tourists since, recently, picnics and glamping became fashionable. Now, near this beautiful lagoon it is possible to camp or have a romantic picnic. In this lagoon you can see silverside breeding for local consumption and supply to the markets.

How can I get to Chinchero?

To visit this incredible archaeological center we can choose the following options:

Public transport

In order to get to Chinchero by public transport, it is necessary to go to Grau Avenue in the city of Cusco. From there the trip will take about 45 minutes to its terminal.

Tour in travel agency

In the event that we would like to book with a travel agency, there are options for one-day or half-day tours that include archaeological centers such as Pisac and Ollantaytambo.

What is the best time to visit Chinchero?

In Cusco you can differentiate 2 seasons:

The rainy season, which runs from September to March, during these months there is the presence of intense rain, although not all day but most of them.
The dry season, which runs from April to September. Here we can have the best views of the city, intense sun but no rain.

Therefore, our recommendation is that you can visit Chinchero during the dry season, we only recommend that you prepare a good hat, sunscreen and a bottle of water.

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