Puno...
Folk capital of the Americas


Celebration of Fiesta de la Candelaria. Puno. Peru
Fiesta de la Candelaria - © PromPeru

On the banks of Lake Titicaca, in south eastern Peru, lies Puno, known as the folklore capital of the Americas.

In ancient times, it used to be territory of the Tiahuanaco (800AD - 1200 AD), the highest cultural expression of the Aymara culture, who established themselves in what is now Peru and Bolivia.

Around XV century it was taken over by Inca civilization and later by Spanish conquerors, who came attracted by the richness of its mineral resources.

It was born as Villa Rica de San Carlos de Puno, founded by Viceroy Count of Lemos - the name Carlos was to honor King Charles II of Spain.


Land of undescribable beauty, ancient myths and beliefs that still hold true after thousand of years, Puno and Titicaca regions is home to Quechuas and Aymaras, among Peru's oldest people.

To navigate Lake Titicaca in one of those totora reed boats of the Uros, and to visit Amantani and Taquile islands is to be transported in time, to the cradle of big pre-Hispanic civilizations


So when you come to Peru make sure you visit the area, not to mention if your trip falls within the month of February, when Puno celebrates Fiesta de la Candelaria.

Every year, for eighteen days, the city celebrates the cult of Virgen de la Candelaria, one of the most important Acts of Faith of Peruvian culture, when the Christian rite march hand by hand with pagan deities...



As legend goes, the whole thing was originated when a group of miners, trapped down a mine, resigned their souls to the Virgen of Candelaria.

Diablada or dance of demons is the main dance of the festival, and the most terrifying masks are those of the Devil and Jacancho, god of minerals.
The whole celebration finish at the cemetery, where dancers render homage to the dead.


Another landmark of this place is the Chullpas of Sillustani.

Some 35 km. away from the city on the way to Juliaca, Sillustani stands 13,500 feet above sea level overlooking Lake Umayo.
It was a sacred place for the Kollas (Collas) - an Aymara speaking tribe -and the burial ground for their nobility.

The mysterious burial towers - Chullpas - made of stone and adobe, are perfectly circular stone buildings, perhaps the most perfect cylindrical constructions in ancient Peru.


Chulpas de Sillustani. Puno. Peru
Chullpas de Sillustani. Peru - © PromPeru

They are certainly not unique to Sillustani, since they are found across the Altiplano, but the site is considered to be the best and most preserved example of them.

The most prominent Chullpas are the ones called "Torre de la Lagartija" (of the lizard) and "Torre de la Serpiente" (of the snake)
The lizard is a symbol of life since it has the power to regrow its tail.

Whether you are coming to or from Cuzco, don't forget to stop over in Puno, one of the most beautiful and sacred places you will ever come across in South America...



Peru Pictures: Masks of Puno 1 Masks of Peru 1 Daniel Moore
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Peru Pictures: Masks of Puno 10 Masks of Peru 10
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How to Get There:

Puno is serviced by Inca Manco Capac Int. Airport, near Juliaca.
If already in Peru, you have daily buses from Cuzco and Arequipa, as well as trains - from Cuzco three times a week only.
If you are in La Paz, Bolivia, there are frequent buses.
Time permitting, do it via the ferry boat across Lake Titicaca and Copacabana.


Where to Stay:

Hostels:
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Hotels:
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