(*Click* on photos for enlarged ones.)
Pisac Market is the first leg of one of the popular tours of the Sacred Valley just outside Cuzco, the heart of the Inca empire, a holy city for the Incas and their administrative center.
I enjoyed Cuzco but had mixed feelings about it, as Francisco Pizarro and crew destroyed any religious buildings they found, replacing them with their own. They tended to keep the foundation walls which were better security against earthquakes than they were able to create, an example, the Santo Domingo church in Cuzco, built on the the site of Coricancha, the major Incan temple, destroyed by earthquakes twice (1950 and 1980) while the ancient Inca walls stood, sustaining only minor damage. More on this later.
After eating a great Italian dinner at 11:30pm in a district of Cuzco alive with restaurants at that hour, and a good rest at the comfortable Hotel Royal Inca II, we took the one-day Sacred Valley tour, which starts out with a trip to a smaller market (where I bought decent panpipes for $15) before hitting the big time at Pisac.
We almost didn't do the markets because shopping and crowds were not part of our itinerary, but both markets had quality goods at really fine prices. Handmade, soft alpaca sweater tops, for $10 U.S. I didn't get any, but did buy a watercolor, which I will scan later for this section.
Here, we've stopped to get a look at part of the valley.
We took a tour with about 10 other people and I'm riding in the front of the bus.
The larger version of this photo gives a good idea of how it feels entering Pisac via this narrow street. You can see the beautiful terraces on the hill straight ahead, and it's hard to believe that the person resting in the doorway in front of the bus would be able to get any relief with vehicles going down that street.
I didn't ask what had hit the front and side window panes.
Pisac is also known for archeological ruins similar to the Machu Picchu site. According to oral history, tribes from the Amazon crossed the Andes and sacked Cuzco several times, and the Inca fortress at Pisac is thought to have been an outpost protecting the capital from attacks by the jungle tribes living in the east. The Insight Guide for Peru reports that the Incas referred to this eastern quarter of their empire as "Antisuyo" and to its jungle inhabitants as the "Antis" and it's from this word that the name "Andes" derives.
The walk up to the ruins is considered beautiful and less touristy than most, but that section wasn't open the day we went. It's said that market days are the best time to see Machu Picchu, since more Cuzco tourists will be shopping on those days.
The mid-week markets are quieter than the big one on Sunday.
Communities are known by their unique type of clothing but especially by their hats. I just love these Pisac hats. The gal in the orange sweater taking care of the younger one looks very young as well but the larger photo shows that her hands have done some hard work already.
They all have great smiles and are probably market regulars, graciously posing for visitors admiring their wonderful hats.
For another, clearer, photo, by Karl Grobl, of two of these gals, visit (after bookmarking my page for return) his delightful photo. And, note the baby's feet. There is something beautiful about them in that picture. Also be sure to visit his entire Peru series for some gorgeous shots of people there, as well as his main One World gallery. For even more inspiration, don't miss the accompanying text/quotes.