is a district in the Urubamba province, 30 Kms. (19
miles) away through the paved road, northwest from
Qosqo. Its altitude is 3780 mts. (12400 feet), over
a plateau that is cold during the early mornings and
at night time. It was one of the most important Inkan
towns in the region, where even today it is possible
to see vestiges of its great past.
. The meaning of its original name is lost; although, today
tradition knows it as the "land of the rainbow"
because over here the K'uychi (rainbow) is frequently seen
in the rainy season. As it is known the rainbow was a special
deity among Inkas; it had a temple inside the Qosqo's Qorikancha,
and still today in many regions of the Andes people respect,
fear or even revere it. Alfonsina Barrionuevo, about the behavior
of people in front of a rainbow says, "... It is not
possible to watch the rainbow, they say superstitiously, without
covering the mouth because it rots the teeth. Neither it is
possible to point it with the finger because it undermines
the bones. Maidens run away from it because if it catches
them in the countryside, it has children with them".
as in most of the towns or temples near Qosqo, Chinchero
was wrecked and modified by the "idolatries extirpators".
Its destruction began when Manko Inka after his campaign
in Qosqo decided to discharge his soldiers so that
they could go back to their farmlands and take care
of their families; he went towards Ollantaytambo passing
through Chinchero and burning it so that the invaders
who were persecuting him could not have either food
Subsequently in 1572, Viceroy Toledo founded the "Doctrine
of Our Lady of Monserrat of Chinchero" and ordered construction
of the present-day Catholic Church that was finished by the
first years of the XVII century; possibly in 1607, that is
the year found in the writing over the main arch inside the
church. The whole church was built using as foundations the
finely carved limestones that belonged to a great Inkan palace.
The entrails of the fine Inkan building were filled up as
high as the roofs with earth brought from some other sectors.
It was in the 1960s when the Inkan palace was discovered under
the Catholic Church. The Inkan palace must have been very
important because on its facade facing to the southern plain
presents openings of triple jamb that by themselves indicate
its category. Farther south from the plain there are two "wakas"
(shrines) carved on outcrop limestone formations; today they
are known as "Chinkana" and "Titiqaqa".
Towards the west there is another shrine named as "Pumaqaqa"
where it is possible to observe on the in-situ rock sculptures
of two pumas which heads were mutilated. Farther west from
the mentioned plain there are, even more, a large amount of
farming terraces that are still cultivated in spite of having
lost their aqueducts.
On the southeastern side of the church is another great plaza
that today is the town's Main Plaza. On its western side there
is a wall containing big trapezoidal niches that can easily
let a person stand up inside; they must have been used to
keep the nobility mummies and idols that presided over ancestral
ceremonies. That wall with niches has a genuine carved andesite
cornice. By the middle of this plaza is a bust honoring Mateo
García Pumakawa Chiwant'ito who was born in the house
located in front of the bust; the house has small arch windows
on the second floor. Mateo Pumakawa was Chinchero's Quechua
chief, Official and Warrant Officer paid by the Spanish army;
he fought against the Tupaq Amaru II Revolution helping to
bring about his defeat in 1781. When being old aged he wanted
to repay what he did against his people and race and joined
the Angulo brothers in order to fight against the Spanish
crown. But, he was defeated and hung from an arch like the
ones that are seen in Chinchero, in Sicuani in 1814.
After the Tupaq Amaru defeat, Pumakawa made paint his victory
in frescos over the church's gate: by the middle is the Monserrat
Virgin, to her right is the victory celebration that coincides
with the Thanksgiving procession and the presence of Saint
Paul, and Saint Peter holding in his hand the heaven's keys.
Toward the left side of the Virgin is the battle representing
chaos and Tupaq Amaru's faction. More over, there are images
representing Pumakawa symbolized in form of fighting victorious
Pumas; and other images representing Tupaq Amaru symbolized
by the "amaru" (serpent-dragon) as chaos and squalor
representation. Inside the church there is a canvas representing
the same dark-skinned Monserrat Virgin, where it is possible
to see angels sawing the mountain; that artwork was painted
by Quechua Cusquenian School artist Francisco Chiwant'ito
and dated in 1693. Juan Carlos Estenssoro wrote about that
canvas: " This Virgin, although, Spanish typically, is
related with some others of the purely Andean imagery such
as the Virgin of Galleries, in which Virgin and mountain are
In Chinchero, every Sunday morning there is a nice native
market, which is one of the most typical and commendable ones
in the region. Over here it is still possible to observe bartering
of goods, and almost always people exchange tropical goods
such as fruits, coca leaves or salt for some other regional
goods such as potatoes, broad beans, ollucos, etc. Also over
here, there is a market for tourists with diverse handicrafts
with very well made weavings standing out. Unlike some other
markets where merchants are foreigners, over here merchants
are native regional people.