Chinchero is located in the Peruvian Andes near the old royal city of Cusco. In the "City of the Rainbow", the ancient Inca ruins and the traditionally dressed inhabitants still exude the original soul of the country.
According to myth, the rainbow was born in Chinchero, just a few kilometres from the former Inca capital of Cusco, because this colourful natural phenomenon can be seen particularly often in the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
With its paradisiacal view over the snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Vilcabamba, the small town was once the summer residence of some of the Inca kings of Cusco. Their traces are still visible in Chinchero, as well as in nearby Pisac, Sacsayhuamán or Ollantaytambo.
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Journey to Chinchero
The small town, which has remained completely unspoilt, lies 3,760 metres above sea level in southern Peru on the route between Cusco and Urubamba, about 30km from Cusco. Chinchero is also directly on the way from the royal city of Cusco to Macchu Picchu and the Inca king Túpaq Yupanqui in particular is said to have enjoyed staying here.
Tip: The visit to Chinchero is included in the Boleto Turistico (Cusco Tourist Ticket)!
Chinchero Colonial Church
The village church of Chinchero towers unmistakably amidst the mud-brick houses on the Plaza de Armas. Although it dates from colonial times, its foundations - clearly visible - date back to the Incas. Supposedly, the palace of the Inca king Túpaq Yupanqui, who also commissioned most of the other buildings in Chinchero, stood here. The neat snow-white church with the tile-red roofs was built at the beginning of the 17th century, probably in 1607.
The richly detailed frescoes on the façade and interior walls show Christian symbols, such as the dark-skinned Virgin of Montserrat. But Inca portraits are also represented, such as the Quechua chief Mateo Pumakawa fighting hostile tribes or pumas. The Sunday morning mass in the church of Chinchero is still celebrated in the indigenous language Quechua.
Inca Walls in Chinchero
On the west side of the Plaza de Armes rises an enormous wall with nine man-high openings in the shape of a trapezoid, which probably once contained the mummies of deceased kings and other figures of the gods. Other Inca ruins can be found directly behind the church. The low walls show the typical construction method with perfectly interlocked stones without mortar.
Sunday market in Chinchero
The Sunday Indio market of Chinchero is known throughout Peru and takes place in front of the picturesque backdrop of the village church. Not as touristy as in Pisac , the Sunday market in Chinchero is still mainly geared to the needs of the locals and so you can buy mainly fruit, vegetables, sweet potatoes and clothes made of goatskin or alpaca wool on colourfully patterned blankets. Here, in addition to monetary payment, bartering is even practised.
Smaller markets are held on Tuesday and Thursday, mainly selling clothes, handicrafts and local musical instruments.
Tip: Nature lovers will be thrilled by the hike from Chinchero to Huayllabamba. The path through the dreamlike landscape to the small village on the left bank of the Río Urubamba takes about 3-4 hours.