The Inti Raymi Festival in Cusco

inti-raymi
The Inti Raymi in Cusco – Peru

Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun was a religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the most important Inca god the “Inti”, one of the most venerated deities in Inca religion. It was celebration every shortest day of the year which also indicated the beginning of the New Year for the Incas. In territories south of the equator the gregorian months of June and July are winter months.
During the Inca Empire, the Inti Raymi was the most important of four ceremonies celebrated in Cusco, as related by “Inca Garcilaso de la Vega”. The celebration took place in the Haukaypata or the Main Square in the city.

According to chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, Sapa Inca Pachacuti created the Inti Raymi to celebrate the New Year in the Andes of the Southern Hemisphere. The ceremony was also said to indicate the mythical origin of the Incas. It lasted for nine days and was filled with colourful dances and processions, as well as animal sacrifices to thank Pachamama and to ensure a good cropping season.The first Inti Raymi was in 1412. The last Inti Raymi with the Inca Emperor’s presence was carried out in 1535, after which the Spaniards and the Catholic priests banned it.

In 1944, a historical reconstruction of the Inti Raymi was directed by Faustino Espinoza Navarro and indigenous actors. The first reconstruction was largely based on the chronicles of Garcilaso de la Vega and only referred to the religious ceremony. Since 1944, a theatrical representation of the Inti Raymi has been taking place at Sacsayhuamán, two kilometers from its original celebration in central Cusco on June 24 of each year, attracting thousands of tourists and local visitors.

Inti Raymi is still celebrated in indigenous cultures throughout the Andes. Celebrations involve music, colourful costumes (most notable the woven aya huma mask) and the sharing of food. In many parts of the Andes though, this celebration has been connected to the western festivals of Saint John the Baptist, which falls on the day after the northern solstice (June 21).

For more than half a century, the festival takes place at the archeological complex of Sacsayhuamán, also called the Sacred House of the Sun. More than 200 thousand people come together to witness the most beautiful spectacle of the year where more than 500 actors proudly bring the past alive. The highlight of the Inti Raymi is in the oration given by the Sapa Inca and the high priest in the original language of the Incas, Quechua. This ancient language is still spoken in wide areas in and around Cusco, mainly in the Peruvian highlands. For a decade the Inti Raymi starts in the square in front of the Qorikancha,also known as the “Santa Domingo” in the Avenida del Sol. The Sapa Inca honors, with an eloquently strong voice, the blessings of the Sun and this most sacred day. After this initiation the procession moves with imperial dignity to the fortress of Sacsayhuamán. At the top, the Inca is carried on a golden throne. The abundant gold and silver worn by the men and women, respectively, represent their status as the high society and invokes deep respect for their fallen empire.

For a decade the Inti Raymi starts in the square in front of the Qorikancha,also known as the “Santa Domingo” in the Avenida del Sol. The Sapa Inca honors, with an eloquently strong voice, the blessings of the Sun and this most sacred day. After this initiation the procession moves with imperial dignity to the fortress of Sacsayhuamán. At the top, the Inca is carried on a golden throne. The abundant gold and silver worn by the men and women, respectively, represent their status as the high society and invokes deep respect for their fallen empire.

Find out some of our extraordinary Inti Raymi Tour packages and join us for the extraordinarily amazing cultural experience.

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