Chinchero. The name Chincheros comes from the Quechua word “sinchi” which means “brave man”. It is known as Rainbow Town because rainbows frequently form in the sky over Chincheros. According to the chroniclers, the rainbow was considered to be a god by the Incas. The rainbow was venerated at a temple in the Coricancha in Cusco. In high mountain towns like Chincheros, the rainbow is still respected and venerated by the people.
This is a town strategically located where 3 roads meet. These are the roads from Cusco, Yucay, and Pumamarca. The road from Cusco begins in the Santa Ana neighborhood which was called Carmenca during the epoch of the Tahuantinsuyo. You have to pass this way when you are going to Machu Picchu. From generation to generation the ancient traditions have been passed down, so the spirit of the Incas survives here in Chincheros to this day. The people of Chincheros are proud of their traditions. You can witness this in way that they work together, in their colorful clothes, in their devotion to their deities, and in the way they love their neighbors.
The Chinchero Market
On the last day of every week, Chincheros holds its traditional crafts market. It is one of the most authentic and typical in the Cusco region. It is characterized by the barter system that is still in use, as it was during Incan times. During the Incanato, goods from the low country of the jungle were traded for products of the high mountains. In the same way today, the people offer their hand-made textiles. But in Chincheros the local people actually make the weavings and are dressed up in the same colorful clothes that they have for sale or for trade. It is a scene of incredible beauty.
The Church at Chincheros
After the Spanish invasion of Cusco, Chincheros was burned by Manco Inca as he fled to Vilcabamba. His objective was to leave nothing for the Spanish. When the Spanish arrived in Chincheros, they destroyed what little remained of the Inca’s palace. Around 1572, the viceroy Toledo ordered a church built on the foundation of the Inca’s palace. It was called the “Doctrina de Nuestra Señora de Monserrat de Chinchero”. It was built to implant the Catholic religion in the people here.
The Grand Plaza
The Grand Plaza is located to the east of the church. It actually fulfills the role of the principle plaza of the town of Chincheros. It is bordered by a giant Inca wall decorated with 10 big niches and trapezoidal indentations. It is still in a perfect state of conservation. To the south there 3 edifices made of finely worked stones which give it a ritual image. It consists of 2 levels. The main level corresponds to the atrium of the church. The other is a patio to the plaza. These structures maintain their extraordinary beauty even as the centuries pass.
Chinchero also has terraces that were designed by the Incas. These terraces are in the form of a trapezoid. This distinguishes them from the more linear terraces that are more generally encountered. On these terraces they cultivated very nutritious crops such as Quinoa, Kwicha, and seeds that provided lots of energy. The terraces are set up so that extra rain water flows off in such an efficient manner that it is difficult to imitate today. These terraces continue to supply food to the favorite sons of Chincheros.