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Holy Week in Cusco
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Holy Week in Cusco and Machu Picchu

Cusco and Machu Picchu receives thousands of tourists during the Holy Week festivities. Cusco has its own local traditions that attract visitors. Some of its most popular manifestations are: the procession of the Lord of the Tremors and the tasting of the 12 dishes. These days are declared holidays so there are many visitors who arrive in Machu Picchu.



What days are Easter Week in Cusco?

  • Holy Week in Cusco varies according to the annual Christian calendar (varies according to Easter Sunday, which is also calculated according to the first full moon after the March equinox).
Holy Week in Cusco
Devotees in the procession of Holy Week in Cusco

How is Holy Week celebrated in Cusco?

Procession of the Lord of the Tremors

– One of the main devotions of Cusco during Holy Week is that of the Lord of the Tremors (also known as Taitacha de los Tremblores). Every ‘Holy Monday’, this image runs through the main streets of the city. In 1650 an earthquake demolished several houses and temples of the population who came to ask for help to the ‘Taitacha of tremors’. Since then, faith spread throughout the city.

The tradition of the 12 dishes

– Unlike other cities in Peru, during Holy Week in Cusco you eat a lot. On Good Friday there is ‘The tradition of the 12 dishes’, which consists of serving a table with twelve different meals at lunch time (mainly soups, fish, wheat, olluco, corn, chicken broth, empanadas, tamales and cakes). During those dates the streets of the city of Cusco are filled with fried food and sandwiches.

Masses in the churches of Cusco

– Cusco is famous for its beautiful churches such as the temple of San Pedro, the church of San Francisco, the church of La Merced and especially the Cathedral of Cusco. Masses are celebrated in these churches during Holy Week. One of the most anticipated by the villagers is the mass in homage to the Lord of the Tremors on Holy Monday.

Healing herbs

– In Cusco there is a belief that during Good Friday (until noon) the plants, roots, herbs and flowers are blessed so their properties can relieve various discomforts. Thus, a hundred peasants from different parts of Cusco meet in different parts of the city such as Plaza San Pedro and Plaza Tupac Amaru to offer a wide variety of healing herbs. After Good Friday, it is believed that these herbs lose their healing properties.

Image of the Lord of the Tremors of Cusco
Lord of the Tremors in the procession

How is Machu Picchu during Holy Week?

  • In Peru, Easter days are declared national holidays so there are many local tourists who arrive in Machu Picchu on that date.
  • If you visit Machu Picchu on those dates you are likely to meet many Peruvian tourists at the Inca archaeological site.
  • Due to the high number of visitors, it is recommended to buy the entrance ticket to Machu Picchu in advance online. The entrance to Huayna Picchu must be acquired 3 or 4 months in advance. The other tickets 3 or 4 weeks before.

What other places to visit during Holy Week?

The Sacred Valley of the Incas – The Sacred Valley was an area of great importance for the Incas since they built their main cities and farmlands such as Pisac, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo, Moray, Urubamba and more.

The Mountain of the 7 ColorsThe Vinicunca is, after Machu Picchu, the most important tourist destination of Cusco. It is a mountain whose soil is covered with minerals that provide a landscape full of colors (resembles a rainbow).

The South Valley of Cusco – The geographical area of the South Valley is comprised of Inca and pre-Inca archeological sites of great importance. During the visit you can visit Tipón, Piquillacta, Raqchi and the colonial church of Andahuaylillas (a very interesting attraction during Holy Week).


What church to visit?

The Cathedral of Cusco – The most important church in the city. The beauty of its buildings combines Andean tradition with colonial architecture. One of the most representative paintings inside is the Virgin Mary dressed in a skirt alluding to the Pachamama (the sacred mother earth).

Church of the Company of Jesus – The architecture of its temple is representative of the Andean baroque of Cusco. Highlights its high summit as well as its representation of the Immaculate Conception carved in marble. It was built on the destroyed bases of the ‘Amarucancha’, palace of the Inca governor Huayna Capac.

Santo Domingo Church – This religious temple was built on the basis of the Temple of the Sun (Coricancha). Inside there is a collection of paintings from the Cusco school. After the earthquakes of 1650 and 1950, the church suffered serious damage that took time to repair. The Inca site of Coricancha, however, suffered no damage.

Church of San Pedro – This church is famous for housing a variety of paintings made by the Cusco school of painting. His pulpit was carved by the famous artist Juan Tomás Tuyru Túpac. It was built on the old hospital of natives of Cusco. Its building consists of two lateral towers and an imafronte. Right in front is the famous San Pedro market.

La MercedThe Merced temple of Cusco is considered one of the most beautiful in Latin America. It is popular for housing the remains of Diego Almagro el Mozo, Diego Almagro el Viejo and Gonzalo Pizarro. Its building has three naves with vaults and domes. Its altars and interior feature beautiful sculptures as well as paintings from the Cusco school and wood carvings.

San Blas Church – This religious temple was one of the first to be built in Cusco after the Spanish conquest. In its place was an Inca temple dedicated to the god of lightning or thunder ‘Illapa’. Its construction is simple composed of a rectangular base without towers. Its main attraction is its pulpit made of cedar. Like the ‘Altar mayor’ it has a mixed style typical of the Baroque style of Cusco.

Churches in Holy Week Cusco
Cusqueñas Churches in Holy Week

What Cusco dishes to eat during Holy Week?

Friday soup with choros – This delicious soup is made of choros (mussels). It is usually the starter during the Cusco tradition of the ‘Twelve Dishes’.

Ají de lizas – This dish is made of lizas, an Andean tuber also known as olluco. It is usually accompanied by baked rice or potatoes.

Empanadas – Sweet Easter empanadas are a tradition in Cusco. It is a type of baked cookie decorated with dragees. In those dates the donuts and other sandwiches are famous.

Tarwi – This characteristic dish of Cusco is made of tarwi, a legume also known as chocho. Cusqueños usually accompany this dish with rice and a stew.

Chancaca Mazamorra – This delicious dessert is made from chancaca and panela. It is usually accompanied by orange peel and cloves. It is one of the desserts preferred by Cusco in Easter.

Fried trout – This bottom dish is made of trout, a characteristic river fish throughout the Andes Mountains. It is usually accompanied by rice, potatoes and salad.

Peach Stew – As the name implies, this popular dessert from Cusco is prepared from peach, which is very sold in the city’s markets as well as syrup candies.

The twelve dishes Cusco
The twelve dishes of Holy Week

Recommendations for your visit during Holy Week

  • Holy Week is a great opportunity to get to know Cusco and Machu Picchu. If you want to visit the Inca city, it is best to buy tickets in advance through the internet. During those dates, the demand for tickets increases considerably.
  • Holy Week is a great opportunity to experience the traditions of the Cusco population. It is also an excellent opportunity to take pictures in the city.
  • The weather during Holy Week is conducive to hiking. A good option is to dare to climb the Huayna Picchu mountain or even do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (4-day hiking route).

Advice from people who have been there

Huayna Picchu

Nestor M.By: Nestor M.

“Wonderful!“

“Maybe any of my words will be short for the feeling lived in this wonderful place. Just say that from the beginning of the visit you feel that inexplicable energy. What to say about the nostalgia that remains when walking away and only thinking of a soon return. Thanks Peru and thanks Machu Picchu !! “

 

By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, March 9, 2020