Puno, Peru – the folkloric center of Peru
The Peruvian city of Puno is located on the northwest shore of Lake Titicaca. Around 100,000 people live in the university town, which was founded in 1668. The cityscape of the capital of the Puno department is characterized by the checkered streets. Only a few houses from the founding time have survived the centuries. One of the sights of Puno is thecathedral, the construction of which was completed in 1757. Peruvian artists were allowed to live out their skills to the full on the facade. You can see various wall reliefs such as the moon and the sun, two mermaids and a puma. These are age-old symbols of the indigenous people, whose original beliefs have mingled with Catholicism, as is not uncommon in Latin America. The most important piece of jewelry in the interior is the silver-plated main altar.
A floating museum is a great rarity
Also worth seeing is the small Museo Carlos Dreyer, in which pottery, ceramics, fabrics and weaving are exhibited. The items date from the colonial period, the time when the Inca ruled Peru and the time when the indigenous people settled the country. The Museo Flotante Yavari is a very unusual museum. It is a floating museum located in the restored motor ship Yavari. The ship, which was transported in parts to Lake Titicaca, was built in England in 1862. In the museum, the visitor gets a good overview of the history of inland shipping on Lake Titicaca. That is just as unusual Museo de la Coca y Costumbres. Here the visitor learns how versatile the coca bush can be. A selection of regional clothing variants can also be seen.
Original market in Puno
It is definitely worth visiting the market that takes place every day. Although it does not radiate the splendor of colors like the one in Cusco, it is even more indebted to the old traditions. Everything the inhabitants of the Peruvian highlands need to live can be bought here, such as household goods, a large selection of vegetables and potatoes. The market is especially famous for its wool products. The Mercado de Artesanos is particularly popular with foreign guests. The range of the arts and crafts market, which is located near the train station, mainly includes products made from sheep and alpaca wool such as sweaters, hats, socks, gloves and ponchos. There are also Peruvian musical instruments, pottery and even masks.
Devil Mask Festival
Anyone who makes a stopover in Puno on their journey through Peru should definitely climb the local mountain, the “Huaisapata”. On the summit is the memorial of Manco Capac, the first mystical ruler of the Incas. The ascent takes around ten minutes. From above you have a wonderful view over Puno and Lake Titicaca. The outstanding celebration in Puno is the devil mask festival. Many mask dancer groups compete against each other. There are around 1,500 dances in Peru. About 400 of them were created in Puno and around Lake Titicaca. In general, Puno is known throughout Peru for its exuberant festivities and lively folklore, which attaches great importance to its ancient traditions.
A tourism week takes place in Puno at the beginning of November
One of the numerous celebrations takes place in every season. At the beginning of November, for example, Puno organizes a tourism week and the city foundation festival. A handicraft fair and folk dances are held as part of the celebrations. The infrastructure in Puno is well developed, which makes the place an excellent starting point for excursions into the surrounding region.