The City of legends

The City of puno, capital of the department of the same name, is located in south-eastern peru , in an enclave on the shores of lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and a source of life for the towns existing in the area. Located on the Plateau of Callao, Puno offers visitors magnificient pre-Hispanic funerary monuments made of stone in tne shape of circular towers, chullpas (tombs), Colonial churches and rusty ichu-covered natural landscape projecting a spectacular view of the way of life in the high Andean tableland or peruvian altiplano. These areas are home to different cultures, such as the Aymara, Quechua, Uro, Pacaje and Puquina peoples who, following the Spanish conquest, merget with the elements of the Western Culture, producing a rich blend which is currently stated in the varied cultural, artistic and folkloric expressions.

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Puno History

Being the birthplace of the Tiahuanaco Culture, one of the most important pre-Hispanic cultures and the utmost expression of the Aymara people, Puno is considered to be a town of legends.

According to one of them, manco Cápac and mama Ocllo, who received instructions from their father, the Sun God, to found the tahuantinsuyo Empire, merged from Laka Titicaca. The Inca Empire was divided into four regions – or suyos – one of them being Collasuyo, which spread over the entire Plateau of Collao, including Puno.

When the Spaniards reached Cusco in the mid 16 th century, they beard of the great mining wealth of this region, especially gold and silver. The bloody battles ensuing in the 17 th century over th possession of the Laikakota Mines (9km west from the City of Puno ) forced the Viceroy, Count of Lemos, to travel to the area and to pacify it, resulting in the founding of the present City of Puno , capital of the department. Founded on November 4, 1668 , it was named San carlos de Puno.

With the passing of time, in their effort to evangelize the native people of the peruvian altiplano, Spanish priests erected beautiful churches, with artists from Puno implanting their original style.

Puno Location

South Andean zone, plateau.

Altitude Puno

12,555 feet (3,827 m) above sea level.

Population in Puno

91,900 inhabitants

Distances from Puno

817 miles (1315 km) from Lima

201.9 miles (325 km) from Arequipa

241.7 miles (389 km) from Cuzco

91,9 miles (148 km) from Desagüadero (frontier with Bolivia ), and 69.6 miles (112 km) from Desagüadero to La Paz ( Bolivia ).

Weather in Puno

The climate of Puno is cold and semi-dry, typical of the high plateaus. Annual average temperatur is 9°C, but it can drop to 0°C during the winter. The rainy season is between November and March.

How to get to Puno

Puno can be reached through three ruotes: 1)By land, following the Lima-Arequipa-Juliaca-Puno route (1,335 km, 28 hr); 2)By air, flying from Lima to Juliaca (1hr and 45 min) and fro Arequipa (45 min); and 3)By train, from Arequipa to Puno (258 km, 10 hr and 30 min) and from Cusco (384 km, 11 hr).

Puno Gastronomy

The typical dishes of the Department of Puno are the chairo, a soup made of lamb meat; fricassee, based on pork meat and mote (large boiled corn) which is recommended should be eaten when it is very hot; thimpo, a dish made of lamb or carachi fish (of the orestias spp species) and the very nutritious pesque, with quinoa, cheese and eggs.

In addition, there are many cheese-based dishes -fried cheese and k’auchi cheese- and lake fish dishes, such as trout, Peruvian silverside, ishpi and carachi (both of the orestias spp species). There are also delicious desserts, like quesillos y miel (curd cheese and honey).

Attractions in Puno



This is a baroque style church built of stone in the 18yh century by Peruvian architect Simón de Asto. His name is engraved at the entrance, qhere one can also appreciate carvings of mermaids playing a small Andean guitar called the charango. Once inside, there are gold leaf altars and paintings of the School of Cusco .


This church dates back to the 18 th century. Its is the sanctuary of the Virgin of the Candlemas, the very much veneered patron of Puno. Her sweet image appears on the main altar; and t the rear, one can enjoy her more then one hundred elaborate robes and cloaks. February 2 of each year is the main day of the festivities celebrated in her honor.


Exhibits include pre-Hispanic and Colonial art works, including ceramics and silverworks, knits, tone sculptures, as well as gold, silver and copper works.


Organized and run by the Deparment’s Folklore Federation, it houses samples of artisan knits and a collection of the innumerable typical dresses of the region, many of which are beautifully embroidered with ribbons and stones of different colors.


This museum has been set up in an old ship built in England in 1862, from where it was sent to Arica by sea, to then taken by train to Tacna . Once in this city, it was disassembled and its parts were carried on mule back to lake Titicaca. The Museum show permanent exhibits referring to the lake fleet used worldwide.


This is another point from where one can watch the city. It is situated on Huajsapata Hill, three blocks away from the Main Square . It is this park which highets point features a monument erected in th honor of the first Inca, manco Cápac.


This is a monument made of carved stone, built in 1847 by the people of Puno, to commemorate the casualties of the battles of Junín and Ayacucho. On one side of the arch there is the watch spot of deustua, one of two points from where the city can be easily watchad.


This is the mansion where Viceroy Count of Lemos stayed in 1668 during his visit to Puno to quiet down the people and found the city. It has a very interesting Colonial style balcony.



The highest navigable lake in the world, it is situated east of Puno, at 3,810 m.a.s.l. its is 194 km long at its longest section and 65 km wide, on average. It is the habitat of birds, such as the parihuanas

(Phoenicopterus chilensis); of fish, like the carachi (of the orestias spp species), suche (trichomycterus punctulatus or trichomycterus rivulatus) trout and peruvian silverside; and of totora (cattail or reed) a water weed which can be as high 3 m. Tall. Totora is used by the Uros as material in the construction of houses and rafts, and as baby food – the lower portion of the stem is called ch’ullu – as it is a very good source of iodine. It must be montioned that a section of the lake (36,108 ha) was declared the Titicaca National Reserve in Ocober 1978, in order to preserve its natural species and its scenic beauty. From the lake port of the City of Puno , there are excursion trips to the islands of the Uros, Taquile and Amantaní.


The Uros are a people who live on approximately 40 floating islands, made mainly of totora (cattail or reed). These islands occupy a large part of the Titicaca National Reserve, from the Bay of puno to the Peninsula of Capachica . The uros group themselves under the highest moral and religious authority: the grandfather. They mainly live off hunting and fishing, but they are also known for their high skills knit totora, which they use in making their rafts and their houses, as well as handicrafts.


In the archaeological site of Sillustani, 34 km (approximately 30 min) north of the City of Puno , on the shore of beautiful Umayo Lake , one runs into enigmatic chullpas, which were built by the Collas, some of which are more then 12 m. High. Used to bury the most important personalities of this nation, the chullpas known as lagarto and Intiwatana are most prominent.


This is a town located 107 km (1 hr and 45 min, approximately) northeast of Puno and 62 km northwest of Juliaca, home to the famous Toritos de Pucará (Little Bulls from Pucará) traditional little sculpture clay works native of the nearby community of Santiago de Pupuja (15 km) which reason to be is related to the magical and religious spirit of the farmars. Two blocks away from the town’s Main Square there is a museum exhibiting granite steles and monoliths of various sizes. Five hundred meters from the square is the archaeological site of Pucará, belonging to the Pucará Culture, consisting of a set of six small pyramids built on stepped platforms which were used in ceremonies.


This in another of the lake Titicaca islands, situated som 40 km (4 hr. And 30 min) northeast of Puno and about 30 min north of the Island of Taquile , by lake. There are interesting archaeological sites here, such as the cove at the Chatajón Cemetery , and cereminial sities, like Pasallasca Oc’co, where the mama Qocha, the lake, is veneered each year. The inhabitants are mainly engaged in agriculture and fishing. They produce textiles with a variety of designs and they make baskets and containers, using the straw they obtain from the ichu. They also carve granite rock they extract from Llacastiti Hill.


Located 80 km northeast of Puno and 35 km north of Juliaca, Lampa is known as the Pink City of the Andes , due to the color of its roof tiles and walls. Its highest attaraction is teh Colonial Church of Santiago Apóstol, which houses the Chapel of La Piedad on one of its sides, where visitors can appreciate a replica of italian artist Michelangelo’s famous 16 th century sculture “La Pietá”, as well as canvas works from the Schools of Cusco and Quito . In Lampa one can also visit the home of Víctor Humareda, a notable Peruvian expressionist painter.


This is a province which center is located 84 km northeast of Puno (3hr and 30 min). Well recommended are its thermal baths, which properties are good for curing rheumatoid arthritis, arthrosis, gastric problems and skin conditions.


This town is located in the Province of El Collao , 56 km (approximately 1 hr) southeast of Puno. Considered as the second marketplace in the department thanks to its traditional Sunday fair, it has preserved archaological areas, like Jisqurayaa, for xample, and chullpas like Kalacota, Mullacani, Chek’a, Pukarani and Mulla Fasiri.


This is a city with a very prosperous and dynamic commercial activity. Its is situated 45 km (about 1 hr) north of the City of Puno . In Juliaca, the department’s largest city, with over 100,000 inhabitants, the churches such as Santa Catalina, with a mestizo baroque style, and La Merced, as well as the Franciscan priests’Convent, a classic looking building are all woth visiting. Also well known is the “Cristo Blanco” (White Christ) a statue erected on Waynarroque Hill, which features a magnificent panorama. The residents of Juliaca make wooden instruments, such as traditional guitars, small Andean guitars called charangos and violins.


Located 108 km (1 hr and 30 min, approximately) southeast of Puno, on the shore of lake Titicaca , Pomata is a town where the Santiago Apóstol de Nuestra Señora del Rosario church attracts the attention of visitors. The church dates back to the 18 th cen


This is a peaceful island on Lake titicaca , situated some 35 km (4hr) east of the City of Puno , by boat. There are no roads or electricity in Taquile, but there are plenty of hills and archaeological ruins. From Chilcano one may arrive at the Main Aquare, the island’s main pier, after climbing 540 steps. The most popular attractions in Taquile are its landscape, dominated by tiered platforms where potatoes, corn, quinoa and broad beans are cultivated; ceremonial sties hosting rituals imploringg for abundant harvests and fishing, and the hospitality of its people, who are so outstandingly organized. The textile industry is the main activity on this island and the garments they manufacture relate to their daily chores.


This is a town which is 18 km (about 30 min) southeast of Puno. Its main Square is flanked by two beautiful churches: La Asunción and Santo Domingo , both with a Renaissance style, built in the 16 th century. This is where Inka Uyo is located, a space reportedly used to invoke and indece fertility, also known as the Temple of the Phallus.


On lake Titicaca, 84 km southeast of Puno (1 hr and 25 min, approximately) was the most important Jesuit religious center used to train missionary workers from Paraguay and Bolivia . Extremely interesting churches are notable in this small city, such as San pedro Mártir, Santa Cruz de Jerusalén, Asunción and San Juan de letrán, which is home to nearly 80 paintings of the School of cusco and whose beautiful grand windows are worked in stone brought from Huamanga. There is a popular fair in Juli every Thursday.


The people from Puno produce a variety of handcrafts, including the Torito de Pucará (Little Bull from Pucará) an object which is very much used in the ceremonies where the livestock is marked. In the textile field, they manufacture garments of alpaca, llama and sheep wool. The masks are an example of how ingenious these people are, which are used to complement the colorful dance attire seen during the festivities, particularly that in honor of the Virgin of the Candlemas. Additionally, the people from Puno are quite skillful in the manufacture of musical instruments, such as the siku (type of aquared flute that resembles a zampoña) the tinya (drum) the zampoña (different flutes put together) and the charango (small Andean guitar).


Puno, known as the Folkloric Capital of Perú, is characterized by its very rich and varied musical expressions, consisting of over 300 dances. Among them mention must be given to the main ones such as the Wifala de Asillo, a Quechua dance evoking the servinacuy or trial marriage; the Ichu carnival, the Aymara Love Dance; the Llamerada, a homage to the Virgin of the Candlemas; the Pujillay de Santiago, a Quechua dance featured in the carnival of Santiago de Pupuja; the Pandilla Puneña, a festive rhythm, also danced during the carnival; the Machu-tusuj, a satirical dance making reference to the plight of the oppressed versus the oppressor; the Kcajelo, a huayno dealing with the courage of horsemen, and th famous Diablada, which makes reference to the struggle between good and evil.


Festivities Calendar


– 6 Fair of Alacitas (Miniatures)

This is a festival featuring the sale of miniatures, in the form of personalities and household objects. It takes place in the town of llave. In Aymara language, Alacitas means’buy me’, and that is precisely what is done at this fair, where the most sought after character is the Ekeko, the fat guy, considered as a sort of God of fortune who “carries” the dreams of the people who buy him.

– Third Thursday,

Tribute to Mother Earth Festival

(Pacha mama and Pacha Tata) This is an Andean ceremony i honor of Mother Earth, which is celebrated on the island of Amantaní , where the participants eat, dance to the beat of the pinkullus (wind instrument that resembles a flute but bigger in size) and make offerings.


– 2 Virgin of the Candlemas Festival

This is the most important religious festival in Puno, where parishioners hold banquets, masses and a colorful procession. Within the scope of the festival, there is a dance contest, in which 60 to 80 groups participate each year. It is related to the pre-Hispanic cycles of planting and harvest.

– Movable Traditional Carnival

The Carnival season in Andean areas is market by its festivities. The tree cutting ritual or yunza, where a tree full of presents is artificially planted, around which the people dance until they bring it down by cutting it with a machete or axe, is the most characteristic part of the festival. The couple giving the final blow to the tree are automatically related to each other and made responsible for the organization of next year’s festival.


– 2 Festival of the Cross

Every year on this day, the District of Huancané honors the Cross of Mount Calvary. The Square of the Cross is the meeting place for many crosses arriving from the neighboring communities with their respective delegates. Following this happy encounter, there is a procession leaving, moving to the rhythm of the sikus (type of squared flutes that resemble a zampoña) until reaching the Church of Santiago Apóstol , where the crosses spend the night, to continue with the party on the next day.

– 3 International Fair of Alacitas (Miniatures)

This is another fair organized to market miniatures, this time held in the City of Puno , with visitors from the city and from Bolivia . As in the case of the town of llave, the most popular object here is the Ekeko, which, after being bought, is blessed together with the rest of the miniatures, so that they can make their new owners’dreams come true.


– 21 Aymara New Year

This is an interesting event celebrated in the Distric of Unicachi and Ollaraya, in the Province of Yunguyo . The nearby archaeological site of Inti Uyo, -where one can find monoliths engraved in anthropomorphic and zoomorphic shapes, such as monkeys and pumas, and in the shape of the sun is the place selected each year to celebrate the Aymara New Year. During this fest, the participants sacrifice a llama os similar animal, in payment to the earth and the sun.


– 26 Patronal Fest of St. James Apostle

This is held in the Towns of Huancané, lampa and Pomata from the previous day. Worshippers of St. James Apostle celebrate masses and processions, and they dance to the music of the sikus (type of squared flutes that resemble a zampoña) and zampoñas (different flutes put together). There are also amusing bullfights.


– 24 Anniversary of Juliaca

Local residents commemorate this anniversary with a school, civic and military march on the Main Square , and with the election of Miss Juliaca at the Municipal Theatre.


– 1-7 Puno’s Tourism Week

The main activities of this special week take place in the City of Puno , with a handcrafts and trade fair, and a veried program, which includes a colorful exhibition of native dances from the Peruvian altiplano.

– 5 Scenes of the Legend of manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo

According to the most famous and wellknown legend on the creation of the Inca Empire, Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo emerged from Lake Titicaca to look for the most suitable place to found the capital of the Tahuantinsuyo. During the scene of the legend, which is played every year, the mythical couple leaves one of the islands of the lake on a rather large raft, arriving in the Port of Puno, where they are met by a delegation, who take them to the place where a ritual ceremony is held, in the company of dance and musical groups from nearby communities.