Puno

At the edge of Lake Titicaca, at an altitude of 3,860 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.) lies Puno, a captivating, enchanting city. The city has a strange magnetism that seems to emanate from the surrounding mountains, its lake that’s looks more like an ocean, and its people, descendants of the Aymara, a strong people who once ruled the high plateaus.

Before the expansion of the Inca Empire, what we now know as Puno, in the southernmost part of Peru , was home to the Tiahunaco culture, the apex of Aymara human development, as shown by archeological remains discovered in the area.

Puno, according to legend, was also the cradle of Inca civilization, as Manco Capac, the first Inca, rose from the waters of Lake Titicaca, under the orders of the Sun God, to found the Inca Empire. Lake Titicaca, at 3,815 m.a.s.l., is the world’s highest navigable lake and, with an area of 8,400 square kilometers, the second largest in South America.

On November 4, 1688, Viceroy Conde de Lemos founded the city of Puno giving it the name of San Carlos de Austria. From that moment, the town began to change physically, as the Spanish priests, in their eagerness to convert the natives, built the beautiful churches which still stand today.

This region of Peru is famous for its varied and colorful folk traditions, as it has some of the most dazzling and richest folk ceremonies to be witnessed in this part of the continent. The most dazzling of all, without doubt, is the celebration of the Virgen de la Candelaria, held in February.

Today, Puno, capital of the department of the same name, is an important agricultural and livestock region; particularly of South American camelids (llamas and alpacas) which graze on its immense plateaus and plains