Cusco, Peru – City of Pomp and Pageantry

evening in cuzco peru

Cusco, Capital of the Inca

It is difficult to imagine Cusco in the time of the Incas, despite the city being literally covered with the remnants of their empire. The thriving capital of the Incas when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1533, Cusco subsequently fell to the invaders, who in an attempt to crush the seat of power and convert the masses, destroyed many of the Inca palaces and temples, building churches and a new city from the remaining foundations, often using forced labour from the conquered. The result is a spanish city with a distinctive Inca influence and definitely one of the most beautiful cities in South America.

Santa Semana

A city with a definite love of festivities and pomp, in the 3 weeks that we were there, we witnessed 4 processions and parades. All of them were grand affairs, involving hundreds of people and lasting at least half a day. We were fortunate to be there for Santa Semana, or Holy Week. Monday kicked off with an enormous procession of Señor de los Temblores, or, Lord of the Tremors.

The huge crucifix from the main Cathedral was paraded across town by hundreds of devotees, with an accompanying marching band and with the townsfolk throwing red flower petals at it. The patron of Cusco, Señor de los Temblores was believed to have saved Cusco from utter destruction in 1650 when a huge earthquake hit. Townsfolk were said to have carried crucifixes and walked around the square, praying for the tremors to stop. They eventually did and from that day on, Señor de los Temblores was the symbol and patron of the city.

The procession went on all afternoon, with the procession weaving their way around town and carried on into the night, finally culminated with the sounding of the most impressive María Angola bell at the cathedral and the return of the crucifix to its resting place within. Thousands of people gathered in the main square, Plaza de Armas to await this moment.

Señor de los Temblores, the patron of the city of Cusco being carried on procession during Santa Semana.

Señor de los Temblores, the patron of the city of Cusco being carried on procession during Santa Semana.

Little boy in the procession holding up a poster of a crucifix cusco peru

Little boy in the procession holding up a poster of a crucifix


Peruvian policeman keeps watch in Cusco

Señor de los Temblores is the patron saint of Cusco Peru

The massive crucifix of Señor de los Temblores has turned black over the ages due to environmental factors and supposedly, the soot from the burning of candles in the cathedral, where it normally resides.

massive crowd in the square during santa semana in cusco

An overwhelmingly Catholic country, Peru celebrates each religious festival with gusto (and a lot of people)

mounted police in cusco peru
Even the mounted police were out participating in the Santa Semana processions

huge crowd during santa semana outside cusco cathedral

The Cusco Cathedral of Santo Domingo, where the procession culminates in the evening as the entire city is gathered in the main Plaza de Armas to participate in the event

I left my job as an advertising Creative Director in August 2012 to travel Africa and South America for a year with my wife, documenting these beautiful places with my Fuji X-Pro1. View the rest of my RTW adventures on Handcarry Only and follow me on my journey by subscribing/following/bookmarking.


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