The Andean Village Of Cinchero

Few conquests have been as devastatingly final as the annihilation of the legendary kingdom of the Incas. In under 40 years after their first encounter with Francisco Pizzaro in 1532, the Incas were history. Their gold looted, their religion wiped out and their architecture demolished.

With the exception of Machu Picchu and a few other uninhabited ‘lost’ abodes that the conquistadors were unaware of, almost all of their cities were completely destroyed. The only witness to their existence: the vestiges of their exquisite stonework in the foundations of colonial buildings.

On a weekday the main square in the village of Cinchero was evocative of this tragedy. Empty and spookily silent like a deserted frontier town. The square is dominated by a 16th century church dedicated to “Our Lady of Montserrat of Chinchero”, constructed on top of a former Incan palace. Spare and simple on the outside, the interior is beautifully decorated with an ornate ceiling and large oil paintings by Quechuan artists.

Quechua Weavers on the loom

Our guide pointed out the heavy symbolism in the artwork covertly depicting native religious symbols in the shapes of the Virgin’s robes and the mountains beyond, that somehow escaped the eyes of the “idolatries extirpators”, as it would have ours!

Adjacent are more stone walls, and arenas where young Incan boys would fight mock battles to mark their passage into adulthood and to train to become warriors. Most of this is deduced from ancient lore passed on in an oral tradition, for they did not leave behind a written language. The rest is pieced together from the works of Spanish historians.

We were initially disappointed about having missed the Sunday market. But in the end we were glad we came on a quiet day when we could sit in the middle of the square with nary a soul in sight and listen to our guide’s passionate narration of the fascinating stories of his ancestors.

Until next time……..happy travels, no matter where life takes you.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on

80 thoughts on “The Andean Village Of Cinchero

  1. I had been following your blog but realized I was not receiving emails of new posts. I think I have figured it out so I will now receive them. I have some catching up to do! I love your photos and descriptions of the Incan plight. We spent a year in Mexico and took an 8-day took of many archaeological sites and found them all to be fascinating. Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

    1. Appreciate that LuAnn & Terry. Mexico is a longstanding dream. Hope to get there someday and to some more places in South America… and budget willing 🙂

  2. The story of the Incas is compelling. And your photos always perfectly illuminate your story! It must take you forever to choose photos for the posts. Of course, I can’t get enough of the pictures. What I want to know, really, is how you remember the SPELLING of the names of the places and of the historical characters! 😉

    1. Thank you George. I usually write it down or refer my guidebook. And there is always Google if all else fails 🙂

  3. Such an exciting and fascinating village to visit. So much history, with a very colorful past and culture. Thanks for sharing them…

  4. I didn’t realise I was reading a Sunday post entry till I got to the end Madhu. I was simply engrossed in the pictures and the story.

  5. Exquisite post, Madhu — both photography and essay!

  6. Amazing the layers of history, Madhu: the 16th century church on the Incan base. The very thought of the battles in that arena is incredibly evocative. Thank you, once again, for a beautiful post!

        1. How wonderful! We so wanted to go to Cartagena, but only had so much time. Someday hopefully…….

  7. Thanks so much for your wonderful photos and narrative, Madhu. The artwork on that church portal is lovely. It’s invaluable to have a really good guide on these tours, isn’t it? 🙂

    1. The church was even more beautiful inside AD. Yes, good guides are a huge asset on these trips.

      1. Happy (Early) Fourth of July, Madhu! … I’m off to Peru in the early fall, and just starting to buy all my gear this week so it’s beginning to feel a little more “real”! Thanks for asking! =D

  8. A very thought provoking post…this bit of history is depressing, but so very important to remember.

  9. I envy the way you post your travels. So much to this place worth mentioning. You totally did an outstanding job sharing it to us.
    Actually, it’s quite haunting to read. The interesting displays of action and images at the end made up for it though. Hehe

    1. Thanks Rommel. I figure the statistics are out there for any one that can google. I try to convey the feel of the place 🙂

  10. Beautiful photos and background history of a civilization that was nearly wiped out. It’s terrible how much culture, history, information is lost when a new power tries to erase what existed before them. The same has happened in the Americas (when the explorers first came to its shores), ancient Egypt and many other places.

    1. Thanks Judy. I am always deeply saddened to see how much we have lost to war and plunder. Appreciate your sharing your thoughts

    1. You do Indra 🙂 There is so much to see in South America. The distance is offputting though. We haven’t done Australia either.

  11. Fascinating history….I love the vivid colors of your photos!

    1. It was truly fascinating and one of the less touristy villages in the sacred valley. Appreciate the visit Lucy

  12. Great shots – which makes it possible for the viewer to create a view of Inca life also in the present… 😉

  13. Vivid colors. Having a guide who is passionate about his culture and history just made the experience all the more valuable. Thanks for sharing this history.

  14. Beautiful photos. I remember studying the kingdom of the Incas’ way back in elementary school. Your post makes me want to refresh my memories on the subject more.


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