The small rustic town of Chinchero lies off the main road between Cusco and Urubamba. It sits at 3762m above sea level, so is higher than Cusco. It is towered over by the Vilcabamba range and the snowcapped peak of Salcantay. This little town is missed by many but has some interesting spots for visitors to see. There is a great display of Inca architecture, ruins and megalithic carved rocks. Chinchero is home to the famous Peruvian weaving and also has a colouful market. It is a lot smaller than the one in Pisac we does offer some beautiful crafts. A beautiful adobe church sits on the plaza, that can be visited daily. Chinchero is also believed to be the birthplace of the rainbow.
It is thought that Inca Tupac Yupanqui, son of Pachacutec, used Chinchero as a sort of country resort. He ordered the construction of many aqueducts and terraces, many of them still in use today. The terraces were built for farming and agricultural purposes. The soil of Chinchero is some of the most rich and fertile in the Sacred Valley. The land is used to produce excellent potatoes, olluco, oca, quinoa and fava beans. Nowadays the produce is sold at the local market. The ruins of the Inca summer get-away display great Inca stonework. You can see what was once a stone throne, decorated with carvings. Stone walls built by the Incas spill down the hillside from the church. The best time to go is in the morning so that it is less busy.
The church that stands in the plaza today was built around 1607 by the Spanish. This colonial church is built on top of the remains of an Incan palace, believed to be that of Inca Tupac Tupanqui. The church is stunning with ornate painted ceilings and combines Catholic and traditional motifs well.
Chinchero is the center of weaving in Peru. It is home to the Interpretation Center of Andean Textiles. Local women entertain tourists with weaving demonstrations. The women will show how they produce different colours for the wool they spin and weave. At the textile cooperative it is possible to see how the wool is washed, dyed and spun. You can watch them spin and create alpaca jumpers right in front of you. The ladies dress in traditional costume, and are happy to display how the weaving works. They are super friendly and will afterwards sit and dink mate de coca with tourists. You can also purchase the produce and end products for extraordinary low prices here. There is no fee for the demonstration but it is appropriate to offer a tip to the women.
To see which is the best route for you to get to Cusco check out Peru Hop’s Passes page!
The Chinchero Market
The market at Chinchero is full of vibrant colour and buzzing locals. The market is generally held on most days of the week, with Sunday being its busiest time for locals. On Sundays different groups from the neighbouring villages come to the market to barter with each other for goods. A visit to the market is good fun; watching the haggling locals, doing a bit of bartering yourself and simply just watching how local life works here. You can buy great textiles and crafts here as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Chinchero is approximately 40 minutes from Cusco. Collectivos go through Chinchero en route to Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. It is possible to ask the driver to drop you off at the town of Chinchero and make your way the short distance to the plaza. Private tours of the Sacred Valley can be organized to include the Chinchero ruins and Interpretation Center. This can be arranged easily when booking your trip to Peru with us.
A Cusco Tourist Ticket is required for entrance into the ruins and into the town plaza with the church. The church and ruins open daily from 8am to 5.30pm. The market is held daily from 7am until 5pm.
The Interpretation Center is free of charge but leaving a tip is very much appreciated. it is located on Calle Albergue 5, and is open daily from 10am to 6pm.