Explore the best Sacred Valley Markets. Peru’s beautiful Sacred Valley (El Valle Sagrado) lies between Cusco and Machu Picchu. All three travel gems add up to a perfect for visitors to the Andean highlands. The Urubamba River runs through this narrow valley with incredibly picturesque scenery and lined by majestic mountains.
The fertile Sacred Valley of the incas was an essential region for the Inca Empire, providing the Inca with prime farming land, rare in the Andes. During their rule (1438 to 1533), the Inca built stone temples, palaces, fortresses, agricultural terraces and other structures throughout the valley.
Today, the Sacred Valley of the incas is filled with a patchwork of farmed fields, typical Andean villages, colorful indigenous markets, and magnificent Inca ruins. The pace of life is definitely slower here (in comparison to Cusco), except for Sundays when the market in Pisac attracts hordes of tourists.
A large proportion of the indigenous population (Andes Indians) who live here are descendants of the Incas, so they speak Quechua and have a vibrant cultural tradition.
Chinchero has a small market most days of the week, but Sunday is definitely the busiest and most interesting day to visit. This is when traditionally-dressed villagers from the surrounding communities come to market to buy and sell vegetables, animals and household goods. Since it’s geared more towards locals than tourists, this Sunday market attracts less visitors than Pisac.
Pisac has the Sacred Valley of the incas largest and most well-known handicraft and produce market as well as magnificent Inca ruins, located high up on a mountain near the town.
The artisan market is held every day, but Sunday is the big market day. This is when villagers in their traditional bright clothing come from around the region for a very lively farmer’s market. It’s great fun wandering through the produce market and observing locals (speaking a mix of Spanish and Quechua) buying, selling or bartering their fruits, vegetables, grains, cheeses, spices, and more. It’s a real slice of authentic Peruvian Andean life.
In addition, there are hundreds of market stalls with individual vendors selling their artisan wares. The Sunday market covers the main plaza (with a small but pretty church on one side) and spreads out into adjoining streets.
Here you can shop for a wide variety of Peruvian handicrafts all in one place – colorful traditional textiles (like tapestries and rugs), alpaca sweaters and other knitted woolens, clothing, ceramics, jewelry, artwork, musical instruments, typical souvenirs and more.
While wandering around Pisac, there are plenty of adorable children (sometimes with their mothers) who are dressed in traditional clothing looking to pose for your camera – for a tip, of course!
The Pisac market is one of the most famous food centers in Cusco. It is centuries old, since the settlers used to meet there during the colonial era. It offers different edible and artisan products every day. However, Sundays are when it gets busiest with people and shops. Your visit is part of the classic tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.
The Pisac market is the most famous and busiest food center in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Its fame is mainly due to the color of its stalls where all kinds of products are offered, from fruit, vegetables, sophisticated alpaca garments or silver jewelry. On Sundays, people from various places arrive offering their products, which makes the market much larger and more colorful.
WHAT CAN BE FOUND?
Handicrafts: In the market there are dozens of handicraft stalls where backpacks, handbags, bags, sweaters, scarves, gloves, tapestries, ponchos, chullos, hats and other similar products made of alpaca, llama and with Andean motifs are offered. It is also possible to buy musical instruments, masks, ceramics, glasses, cups and utensils made with Inca designs. It should be noted that in the Pisac market it is possible to appreciate how artisans make silver jewelry with multicolored Andean themes.
Peruvian food : The Pisac market is also famous for its Peruvian food stalls where it is possible to taste some famous dishes at low cost such as: ceviche, lomo saltado, baked guinea pig, huancaína potato, fried trout and much more. In the town there are also restaurants that offer Mediterranean food as well as cafes, bars and pastry shops. Remember that Peruvian gastronomy is considered one of the best in the world. Take your chance to taste the most traditional dishes of the country.
Fruits and vegetables: The Pisac market gathers merchants from different towns of the Sacred Valley of the Incas offering fruits, vegetables and other edible products. Especially on Sundays it is when the square is crowded with merchants who usually wear their typical multicolored costumes. It is a good opportunity to get to know some Andean products such as chuño, goose, quinoa, broad bean, blueberry, kiwi, camu-camu and Urubamba white corn (considered the largest in Peru).
Chinchero is a small Andean Indian village located high up on the windswept plains of Anta at 3765m about 30km from Cusco. There are beautiful views overlooking the Sacred Valley of the Incas, with the Cordillera Vilcabamba and the snow-capped peak of Salkantay dominating the western horizon. Chinchero is believed to be the mythical birthplace of the rainbow. Its major claim to tourism is its colourful market which is much less tourist visited than the market of Pisac.
The Chinchero market is held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. The Sunday market is typically the largest and best. The market here is both traditional – you’ll see locals bartering over produce and shopping for clothes – and tourist-centered. As you stroll through the stalls, you’ll encounter a good range of handicrafts, especially weavings.
The village mainly comprises mud brick (adobe) houses, and locals still go about their business in traditional dress. The village may have been an important town in Inca times. The most striking remnant of this period is the massive stone wall in the main plaza which has ten trapezoidal niches. The construction of the wall and many other ruins and agricultural terraces (which are still in use) are attributed to Inca Tupac Yupanqui who possibly used Chinchero as a kind of country resort.
In the main plaza an adobe colonial church, dating from the early seventeenth century, has been built upon the foundations of an Inca temple or palace. The ceiling and walls are covered in beautiful floral and religious designs. The church is open on Sundays for mass.
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