Peruvian Cities
Puno, PUNO
Location, extension and population | Brief historic outline | Main attractions in the capital city | Other attractions of the department of Puno | Typical dishes and beverages | Tourist calendar

Danza de la diablada puneña. Puno. Fotografía: PromPerú.LOCATION, EXTENSION AND POPULATION
The department of Puno is located in the south eastern region of the country. It has a rough topography with most of its cities located in the Sierra. It limits to the north with Madre de Dios, to the south with Tacna, to the east with Bolivia, and to the west with Cusco, Arequipa and Moquegua

Puno has an extension of 72,382 km² (27,947 sq ml) and a population of over 1'000,000 people.

The weather is cold and dry, with an annual average temperature of 9°C (48°F), going down to 3°C (37°F) during the winter.

The capital is Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca and at 3,827 m.a.s.l. (12,555 ft). Juliaca, Azángaro, Huancané, Lampa and Yunguyo are among the most important cities.


Balsero Uro en Lago Titicaca. Puno. Fotografía: Heinz Plenge / PromPerú.BRIEF HISTORIC OUTLINE
In ancient times, the Collao plateau was inhabited by Aymara groups (Collas, Zapanas, Kallahuayos and Lupacas). The Quechuas came later.

According to chronicler Garcilazo de la Vega, these ancient times coincide with the legend of Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo, who emerged from the waters of the Lake Titicaca to found the Inca empire.

The Aymara culture, also known as Putina, was the most important and influential pre-Hispanic culture in the region.

During the Viceroyship, Puno was the obliged route for travelers going to Potosí. In 1668, viceroy Conde de Lemos established San Juan Bautista de Puno as the capital of the province of Paucarcolla. Later, it was called San Carlos de Puno, in honor of ruling king, Charles II of Spain.

In 1870, the railway route Arequipa-Puno was installed and navigation in Lake Titicaca started.


Lake Titicaca
is the highest navigable lake in the world, with a surface of 8,560 km² (3,305 sq ml) and a maximum depth of 227 mt (744 ft). It also stands out for the transparency of its waters. There are 36 isles, the most important being, Taquile and Amantani. It houses a great variety of birds (flamingos, huallatas, keles, and tiquis), and fishes (trouts, carachis, pejerreyes, suches and ispis), among others.

The Floating Islands of the Uros. A group of 40 floating islands formed by totora reeds, where the people are part of one of the oldest cultures in the continent. They live the way of their ancestors, strictly keeping their customs and idiosyncrasy.

Isla Esteves, another isle with a very good hotel and a most spectacular view.

Isla Taquile. The local people are farmers and have developed an original form of communal tourism. They receive visitors and share their food, housing, customs and traditions.

Isla Amantani houses archeological ruins located in the top of the hills. These were sites for religious rites and adoration.

Chullpas de Sillustani. An archeological area 34 km (21 ml) from the city of Puno. It is one the most important necropolis in the world. It stands at 4,000 m.a.s.l. (13,123 ft) in an esplanade surrounded by the beautiful Umayo lake. Built by the Collas, the chullpas are gigantic funerary monuments. They are quadrangular and circular edifications of over 12 mt (39 ft) high.

The Cathedral. Finished in the seventeenth century, it stands out for the quality of its structure and the engravings in stone.

Arco Deustua. This arched gateway built in memorial to the heroes of the independence Battles of Junín and Ayacucho, it is also the gathering site for the end of the Fiesta de la Candelaria.

Cerrito de Huajsapata is a small hill with a monument to Manco Cápac. From there it is possible to enjoy a complete view of the city of Puno and the Titicaca lake.

Other city attractions include, Museo Municipal Dreyer, Casa del Corregidor, Casa del Conde de Lemos, Fuerte de San Luis de Alba, and Santuario de Chancharani.


, an important commercial city. Santa Catalina, a church from Viceroyal times, is one of its main attractions.

Lampa is a city with an untouched Colonial influence. The Viceroyal church of Santiago Apóstol stands out. It has a replica of the Pietà by Michelangelo. Visitors can also go and see the house of the famous deceased Peruvian painter, Víctor Humareda, a chinchilla breeding ground, and the Lensora rupestrian paintings.

Desaguadero is a frontier city and a crossing point to Bolivia. Close to Desaguadero are found the 10,000 years old Pizacoma rupestrian paintings.

Chucuito is rich in archeological vestiges, such as the phallic temple of Inca Ullo, a place for fertility rites. Many of the Chucuito houses and churches maintain their Viceroyal past.

Pucará. Village where the Gran Templo de Pucará is located. The local people are wonderful artisans and potters, famous for their toritos de Pucará (Pucará bulls).

Yunguyo. This is a frontier town that limits with Copacabana in Bolivia. This is a location where several folkloric and religious festivals take place.

Chimú and Ojerani. These are farming communities and their people are expert totora weavers.

Ilave. An important commercial center, with two interesting Colonial churches. Every Sunday there is a local fair.

Juli is an important tourist center in the region. Its churches house very valuable pieces of Cusqueño and Italian style paintings.

Pomata. The churches of Santiago Apóstol and Nuestra Señora del Rosario stand out in this location. They were constructed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in pink granite and with gold leaf altars.

Zepita. A town with beautiful churches, such as the eighteenth century Iglesia de San Pedro, completely built in stone.

Tinajani. Located in Ayaviri, this canyon, formed by two huge masses of rocks, is also known as Baño del diablo (Devil Bath) because, when it rains, very loud and terrifying sounds are heard coming from the bottom.

Other interesting places to visit include, Taraco, Huancané, Vilquechico, Moho, Conima, Santa Rosa and Sandia.


The popular Puneño cuisine include soups and stews based on red meat and potatoes.


February 2
. Virgen de la Candelaria. Date in which the 10-day celebration in honor of the patron of Puno starts. This first day hundreds of dance groups from the neighboring towns pay their tribute to the mamacha, showing the best of their folklore and wearing their finest costumes. This is the time to see the famous and colorful diablada where, to the rhythm of the sikuri or panpipe players, groups of dancers dressed as devils parade worshipping their patron. The image of the Virgin is taken out in procession crossing the main streets of the city of Puno. The following days are celebrated throughout the area with fairs, festivals, drink and dancing day and night.

Last Week of February and First Week in March. A celebration in honor of the compadres (godfathers) and comadres (godmothers) takes place in Ayabaca, Juliaca. It is a festivity in which the compadrazgo ties are renovated in every house. At the same time, people are dancing in the streets to the rhythm of the various local bands, and drinking incessantly.

Carnivals. Villages and towns choose different Sundays to celebrate carnivals. The most beautiful dances are seen during these celebrations. The pandillas or dancing groups swing through the different city quarters, as well local people who dance to the rhythm of the zampoñas (rustic flutes) and bombos (large drums).

March 8. Fiesta de San Juan de Dios. The local church is surrounded by music bands and groups of dancers who, to the rhythm of the sicuris, pay homage to their patron saint. Devotees take an offering with them and put it in place while they dance.

May 2 through May 5. Feria de las Alasitas. A traditional miniature fair. On May 3, merchants sell miniature houses, cars, airplanes, money, appliances, and any imaginable thing. After people buy their miniatures, they take them to be blessed in front of expert challadores. It is said that during the year, people will get in full-size what they bought as a miniature.

July 15. Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen in Cabana.

August 15. Fiesta de la Virgen de Asunta, patron of Cabana.

September 24. Fiesta de Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes. It is celebrated in the city of Juliaca, where there are also colorful fairs of livestock, farm and commercial products, which last eight days.

October 8. Fiesta de San Francisco de Asís. In Yunguyo, the local people honor the Tata Pancho with folkloric dances, abundant food and drink.

October 24. Anniversary of the city of Juliaca.

November 4. Anniversary of the city of Puno.