Pisac is at 32 Km from the city of Cusco and at 2,950 meters above sea level— The temperatures vary: can reach 14°C to 20°C through the day and drop to less than 0°C at night. Pisac is a district in the province of Calca; it is an archeological complex and is a town. The name comes from “pisaq” or “p’isaqa”, a type of bird similar to the hen and in abundance in the zone. Now, we start from the beginning. At 9 Km up the mountain is the archaeological park. The studies show that it was a royal country property of the Pachacútec Inca (first half of the 15th century). We can go by car or by walking. The walk is harsh and we recommend it. It is thought that one of the objectives was to protect the city of Cusco from the “antis”, inhabitants of the lower zones and main enemies of the Incas.
The park includes miscellaneous spaces, some for domestic use and other r for ceremonies. The complex is divided in neighborhoods, each with a specific use. For example, Qantus Raqay for the farmers. The name Kantu refers to the national flower of Peru, kantu or cantuta (Cantua buxifolia), the bush grows in the -area. This neighborhood is composed by stone rustic buildings located almost over the abyss. Toward the west, at the other side of the little stream Quitamayu, there is the Tanqanamarka (“place of launching” in Quechua) graveyard, where is calculated that there are more than 10,000 burials, that today resemble craters; most of vv/hich were sacked by the conquistadores. Amarupunku is a ceremonial neighborhood. It was built with a trapezoidal style that distinguishes the buildings for the Inca nobility.
In the higher part of the Archaeological Park is the Intihuatana, a sacred stone of 1 1/2 meters high that was polished to allow the Inca priest to worship the Suri, its major divinity so they could set the change of seasons. Around the complex, there are extensive farming terraces, a sample of the mastership that the Incas achieved in the handling of the land to enlarge their farming land areas. There are 16 types of andenes that go from 3,000 up to 3,450 meters of altitude. And, of course, you can also see the rums of the aqueducts that made agriculture possible.
Now, let’s go to the Pueblo Nuevo (“New Town”) of Pisac, drawn in 1570 by the Spanish and we can see what remains of the adobe houses, white walls, blue balconies and tiled roofs with two slopes. The ex INC ruled the urban preservation of Pisac and this helped somewhat to preserve it alive and pretty but the artisan market pressure has made real damages in certain parts of the town. Originally, that 1, before the tourism bartering, in Pisac there was an exchange fair every Sunday, even though barter, where the community members obtained products that they could not find in their own towns because of the altitude, and at the same lime, they carne down with their own produce, including utilitarian handicrafts, objects and things for the shaman’s table, medicinal plants, knits. Then, tourism arrived, and little by little, the fair started to be set up also on Tuesdays and Thurs-days, and today, sell exclusively handicrafts and food. The first is in general mass produced and of scarce value, the knits are made of synthetic fibers and it is very 1 ¡re to see the use of natural dyes.
However, there are pretty things at a very good once. The truth, you can find everything: ceramic, stone carvings, knits, wood, minerals, fossils and sometimes old pieces of the “conopa” type, popcorn or may be cowbells and small day offerings. There are still the booths or stands with medicinal plants that may be are the most interesting part of the fair today. For taking pictures, try the booths where they offer the huge colorful wool balls. You can eat very well in some of the booths in the plaza, specially, the corn with cheese. But if we talk about food, you cannot miss visiting the two ovens from the viceroy’s time; one is in one of the corners of the Haza de Armas, and the other at the center or at half way of Castilla Street. In the second, at half morning, they bake and sell empanadas salteñas,” type that are very good and freshly baked bread. If you are lucky, they might have roasted a suckling pig or piglet; then your lunch will be unforgettable. Sadly, a horrible commercial gallery has invaded the original space of this beautiful precint.
In the Squire, there is an old “pisonay” (Erythrina falcata), that was planted when the town was founded. The church through the day is covered or hidden by the fair booths, which are stable now, and do not let us have an idea of the front. It is dedicated to Saint Peter Apostle, some years back, the patron saint of Pisac in 1harged some local painters to decorate the temple inside. The result is a delight in which there is kitsch combination with the popular saints full of humor and humanity, that follows the tradition of the doctrine temples of the baroque circuit of the South Valley. About the market, we cannot stop from mentioning that there is a project to move the fair to a neighboring ground, but the artisans do not want it, neither the tourism companies nor the tourists themselves.
If you arrive on a Sunday to Pisac, go to mass at 11 am. I found out it was about to begin when I started hearing the call from the pututos. It is probable to distinguish among the parishioners the seven Varayocs of the higher communities. They come from Motupa, Saccaca, Viacha, Cotataqui, Chahuaytire and Paru Paru. They are recognized by their dress and the wooden staff. The pututo players, adults and children announce the beginning of the mass. During the ceremony, the priest intercalates both Spanish and Quechua in the homily and in the chanting.