The sun arises in Arequipa as we get ready to head toward the Sabancaya (5976 sea level), a volcano located in the high area of the Colca Valley. Its name – Sabancaya - means “tongue of fire” in quechua , and it is considered among the most active volcanoes in Peru, having had it last activity in July 2013. Approaching its domain is an exciting experience and an adventure we highly recommend as a different way of sightseeing Arequipa.
Located in Libertad street, just around a block from our Tierra Viva Puno Plaza hotel, Balcones de Puno (Puno’s balconies) is a must stop if you are searching for the best of Puno’s cuisine. Acknowledged by TripAdvisor -the world’s largest travel site- with the Certificate of Excellence in 2013, and assorted with a magnificent variety of dishes made out of local products such as trout, alpaca and quinoa, this restaurant reasserts Puno’s roots with a daily dinner-show starting at 7:30 pm. with traditional music and dances. No wonder why this city is known to be the capital of Peruvian folklore.
Living is not only about sharing significant moments of adventure and emotion, enjoying a great view from a terrace, a sunset or a special welcome, it is also about surprising yourself with the many touristic attractions and festivities that our magical Peru has to offer. For that reason, Tierra Viva Hotels, has decided to enter into the world of Instagram.
Among the many ancient feasts that are still celebrated in Peru, the Virgin of Candelaria festival stands out for being the most colorful and massive of them all, a symbol of the religious syncretism among aymara, quechua and spanish culture that is revealed through the dance of the peculiar characters that are part of its performance. This festivity is so outstanding that is even postulated to be included in UNESCO’s list of Intangible cultural heritage.
When it comes to sightseeing in the city of Lima and discovering its rich historical and architectural heritage, the experience can be a great adventure. Spanish colonial houses and archaeological sites contrast with modern tall buildings in a cosmopolitan city. And even though a tour around the Peruvian capital may require a few days, here we suggest a 2-day tour for tight schedules.
Lima: History, Cuisine and Culture
Let’s start the day with a juicy breakfast on the terrace of the Tierra Viva Miraflores Larco; we will need all the strength possible to accomplish our objectives of the day. We should start at Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas (Main Square), located in the center of Lima, 35 minutes away from our hotel. There we will find the Cathedral of Lima, built upon the palace of Sinchi Puma Prince of Cusco, opened to the public in 1540.
After that, you could walk two blocks in the direction of the Catacombs, inside the San Francisco Monastery, you will find impressive graves that lie underneath this church of baroque architecture, one of the best preserved in Lima (the admission price is S/. 7, and includes a guided tour).
The world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor, has granted five awards to 4 of our 6 Tierra Viva Hotels at the recently announced Travellers’ Choice 2014. Our winner hotels include Tierra Viva Miraflores Larco (two awards), Tierra Viva Cusco Plaza, Tierra Viva Cusco Saphi and Tierra Viva Arequipa Plaza, which was also considered among the 25 most Romantic Hotels in South America.
But, why is Tierra Viva the best choice for you in Peru?
The occupation of Tipón happened at around 1200 a.c. and it is believed that the first inhabitants belonged to the Wari Empire or to the Ayamarcas, a culture that lived in the valley of Cusco, located at about 20 km from Tipón. From this period remains the 6km of the defense wall that used to surround it. It was Pachacutec who 200 years later transformed it into the complex as we know it today.
Considered one of the greatest south american mestizo baroque edifications, La Compañía church, which began its construction in late XVI century, was entirely made in ashlar, the white volcanic rock that identifies the colonial urban structure of the Historical Center of Arequipa.
Located in one of the corners of the main square, La Compañia church has survived earthquakes and bomb attacks that have hit the so called “White City”, as well as the persecutions and expulsions inflicted to Compañía de Jesús, the religious congregation that was founded in 1450 in the city of Rome by the spanish Ignacio de Loyola.
The temple and its cloisters are the most representative monuments of the Arequipa School, that influenced not only nearby churches such as Cayma, Yanahuara, Paucarpata and Characato, but also expanded through all the southern region all the way to Potosí in Bolivia, leaving true arquitectonic jewels as the Puno Cathedral.
According to spanish historian Bernales Ballesteros, is the carving in the frontage of La Compañia Church where the genuinely mestizo art is born and where the hispanic-american transculturalization process harmonically ends. The design comes from the peninsula, but the work on the stone and its decorative motives are orginal from that area. In the interior, the major altar stands out -one of the most beautiful in Arequipa-, that holds, at its center, the painting “La Virgen con el Niño” (The Virgin with young Jesus), from italian painter Bernardo Bitti, that came to Peru in 1575.
Like if he had been possesed, the danzaq shakes frantically, crashing in the air, with an incredible skill, the scissors. It is said that he has a pact with the devil, that he feels no pain, that he is capable of mediate between man and nature, that he gains strength from the wamanis and the apus, gods of the snowy covered mountains and andean lagoons. Like every 24 of december, they have come to all the towns in Huancavelica to praise the the little Jesus Christ.
The Scissors dance, considered by UNESCO an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” since 2010, is performed by the danzaqs, men that descend from the “tusuq laylas”, pre hispanic soothsayers and healers that were persecuted during the colonial times, leaving them with no other choice but to shelter in the high areas of the Ande. With time, colonizers accepted their return but with the condition that they would only dance to the saints and the god of the Catholic Church, starting the tradition that goes on every patronal feast. Peruvian writer José María Arguedas immortalized the mysticism of the danzaq in his novel “The Agony of Rasu Ñiti”.
And every year, from december 24th to 27th, the traditional Atipanacuy takes place in different areas of Huancavelica -and other regions of the central Andes and southern Peru-, dance competitions that face the danzaqs and their orchestras, that count with an harpist and a violinist. The dancer, dressed with a particular outfit and shaking the two 25 centimeters long pieces of metal -the scissors-, performs many jumps and acrobatic moves, executing different kinds of challenges in which, a lot of times, he must defeat the pain and suffering that he self inflicts, as a test of his courage and strength. If you are close to Huancavelica during Christmas days you can not miss them. They are one of the most authentic expressions of the culture of the Andes.
Lima was founded in 1535 but has a long pre columbian history, reason why you can find around the city not only archaeological complexes and colonial edifications, but also recreation, culture and modern entertainment centers, like The Magic Water Circuit, located in the Reserve Park in downtown.
Opened in July of 2007, The Magic Water Circuit holds the Guinness record for being the “Biggest Water Fountain Complex of the World in a Public Park”. Its 13 fountains -one of which has a water jet that reaches 80 meters tall- look as if they were executing a synchronized dance of music, light and colour. The spectacle of the water drawing different kinds of figures that vanish into the air has made this a favorite place for citizens of Lima, especially the children.
If you are close to the place, you can’t also miss the Reserve Park -named in honour to the reservist troops that participated in the defense of the city during the war with Chile- and its neoclassical buildings constructed in 1926 and designed by french architect Claude Sahut.
The Reserve Park and The Magic Water Circuit opens in the following schedule:
- Monday to Sunday from 6:00 am to 1:00 pm, totally free.
- From Wednesday to Sunday and holidays from 3:00 pm to 10:30 pm. The entrance price is S/.4.00, but for kids younger than 4, adults older than 65 and disabled, have free access to the park.
- In the Summer, the schedules extend to Tuesday from 3:00 pm to 10:30 pm.
- The show of the Fantasy Fountain starts at 7:17, 8:15 and 9:9:30 pm.
- It counts with a parking lot for visitors and the cost is S/.10.00.
For more information about The Magic Water Circuit and other attractions in the park, you can go to http://www.parquedelareserva.com.pe/indexIn.html