Write us

Inti Raymi through time until 2014

28 March 2014 (2317 reads)

Inti Raymi through time until 2014

Inti Raymi through the times has many changes. Since the first celebration by our ancestors until this 2014. Because a lot of things missing and new ones it are reassessing through times. And for that reason our website make a little article about the biggest changes into the Inti Raymi history.


A Pre-colonial Inti Raymi

Before the arrival of Spaniards in Cusco, the Incas worshipped the sun as their main deity and source of life; the Incas, they believed, were the children of the Sun God. Each June 22 (the shortest day of the year in the southern hemisphere), the Incas would therefore summon the Sun God through a festival that came to be called Inti Raymi. On this day of the winter solstice – when the sun is at its furthest distance from the equator – the Incas invoked the sun deity, pleading for him to come closer again lest he lose himself in the deep dark universe. They prayed for a good harvest and protection against famine and hunger.

Tawantinsuyo is the Quechua term for the Cusco region. It is derived from tawa, meaning ‘four’, inti, meaning ‘sun’, and suyo, which means ‘side.’ In Inca times, Cusco was the four-sided sun empire. Only the royal family, priests and other influential people were allowed to inhabit the sacred city, but depending on the merits of a few ordinary citizens, some of the latter were permitted to enter its walls on June 22nd to take part in the religious festival celebrated on what is today Cusco’s Plaza de Armas.

At the height of the Inca Empire, around 50,000 people from outside the city would gather, bearing gifts and offerings to present to the Inca elite. In order to participate, they needed to have fasted for nine days. This was followed by nine days of great banquets and feasting on roasted meats and corn loaves. Chicha de jora (fermented corn drink) ran like rivers of laughter, and participants would chew coca leaves, so as to not get too drunk.


Spanish Suppression and 20th Century Restoration

In the early 16th century, the vast Inca Empire began to crumble. From 1524-1526, a smallpox epidemic brought to Central America by the Spanish wiped out huge numbers of natives, including both the ruler and his heir. Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro and his brothers then invaded in 1532, seeking gold and riches. Over the next several decades, the Spanish quashed native uprisings and established Cusco as the seat of their Spanish colony. Catholicism was declared the official faith and the annual Inti Raymi festival became a source of tension. Finally, in 1572 Viceroy Toledo forbade what the Spanish considered a pagan celebration.

It wasn’t until the 20th century that this lost Inca rite was restored. In 1944, Faustino Espinoza Navarro, founding member of the Peruvian Academy of the Quechua Language, brought Inti Raymi back to life. He salvaged texts from the Royal Commentaries, written by Garcilaso de la Vega in 1612, and studied fragments dealing with the ancient Inti Raymi ceremony. He created the first play based on it. “I wrote the script for 600 actors and had the privilege of playing the first Inca, a role I assumed with great pride for 14 years consecutively,” said Espinoza. Nowadays, the ceremony is actually celebrated every June 24th, both in the city of Cusco and in indigenous communities all over Peru.

On the actual day of Inti Raymi, the ceremony begins on the site of the ancient Coriaconcha, the holy of holies of what was theTemple of the Sun (now built over by the Santo Domingo Church). An invocation to the Sun is given by the Sapa Inca in the square, as he calls for a blessing from the Sun. Following this, he is carried on a golden throne in a procession to the fortress of Sacsayhuaman. Following him come the high priests in ceremonial robes, then officials of the court, and others resplendent in elaborate costumes with gold and silver ornaments.

The drama continues with speeches by priests representing the Suyos, the three levels of existence: Snake for the world below, Puma for the life on earth, and Condor for the upper world of the gods. A sacred Coca leaf reading is consulted to divine the future of the empire, and a ceremonial fire is rekindled. In a very realistic moment, the high priest (apparently) sacrifices a white llama, holding up its heart in honor of Pachamama. This ensures the fertility of the earth when combined with the light and warmth of the sun… to ensure a bountiful crop for the next cycle.

Each year, more than 150,000 colorfully dressed natives take place in these events. The booming drums, eerie panpipes and blaring horns, all pre-Hispanic instruments, send a chill up your spine as you look in wonder, feeling like you have just stepped out of a time machine. This is a day to recapture the spirit and values of their ancestors, a celebration of cultural pride. Consider yourself fortunate indeed if you have the chance to witness this incredible event yourself.


Book now


Transfer Ollantaytambo to Cusco

USD 60.00
Private transfer in comfortable vehicles from the Ollantaytambo train station, where we will pick up you, to the airport or hotel in Cusco

Pisaq Tour from Ollantaytambo

USD 85.00
If you are in Ollantaytambo and want a private tour to the impressive constructions of Pisac take the services of Hierba Buena Tours

Tour & transfer Ollantaytambo, Maras, Moray & Salineras, Chinchero

USD 75.00
Transfer to Ollantaytambo or Cusco that includes a refreshing tour to Maras, Moray and Chinchero in private service

Travel Blog

The Inti Raymi 2023, the magical and great festival of the kingdom of the Incas

24 May 2023

The Inti Raymi 2023, the magical and great festival of the kingdom of the Incas

It was not about an obligation or myths, it was about giving true love to the Sun God, the Inti Raymi is a festival of worship and gratitude.

read more (+)

More from Blog

Cusco says goodbye to the rains and prepares for the festivities 26 April 2023

Cusco says goodbye to the rains and prepares for the festivities

Cusco prepares for the festivities and cultural activities, saying goodbye to the refreshing rain and welcoming the sun of June, the Sun of the Incas.
From Cusco airport to Machu Picchu 31 January 2020

From Cusco airport to Machu Picchu

Take our taxi, it will take you completely comfortable from the Cusco airport to Ollantaytambo, then we board you on the train to Machu Picchu.
Ukukus: 26 years of music and art in Cusco downtown 10 January 2020

Ukukus: 26 years of music and art in Cusco downtown

Ukukus is reborn, for more than 30 years it has governed the nights of Cusco, it is the party at the end of the road, the obligatory last night in Cusco for tourists.
Rainy season tips for visit Machu Picchu 27 December 2019

Rainy season tips for visit Machu Picchu

Information on what to bring and what to do in the rainy season in Machu Picchu

Hierba Buena Tours
Urb Aprovite A-16, San Jeronimo, Cusco, Perú
Phone / WhatsApp: +51 984 763 998

See more travel options

We accept the following payment methods without additional charges

Tarjetas de crédito Cusco