All about the textile centers of Chinchero
What are textile centers?
The textile centers are places where inhabitants of the towns of Cusco meet to work garments and ornaments using the technique of spinning and dyeing inherited by their ancestors hundreds of years ago. Tourists who visit these sites can learn these techniques. In addition, they can learn about the lifestyle of Andean men and women.
Where are they?
The town of Chinchero has dozens of textile centers, most of them located in its urban area. This traditional town of the Sacred Valley of the Incas is located approximately 30 kilometers by road from the city of Cusco. The town is geographically located 3,762 meters above sea level (12,342 feet).
Most of the products made in Chinchero's textile centers are made from alpaca fiber. Peru has a large production of this material highly valued abroad. That is why ponchos, sweaters, scarves, scarves, stockings and gloves have a much lower cost than in other countries. Take advantage and buy alpaca products during your visit to the textile centers!
How to go there?
To visit Chinchero you must take a car from the city of Cusco. The journey takes approximately 40 minutes. Although you can hire taxis, the most economical way is by taking public transport from 'Belén Pampa' street in the Historic Center of Cuzco. The cost of the ticket is approximately 5 Peruvian soles (2 US dollars on average).
What to see
Traditional textile of Cusco – The textile art of Cusco has its origins in the Inca times who used natural products to dye their garments made mainly of llama and alpaca fiber. The men and women of Chinchero maintain many of these traditions by grouping themselves in textile centers to continue with the manufacture of garments and utensils. In the textile centers, the tourist will be able to know these spinning and dyeing techniques and, incidentally, will be able to acquire one of these garments, the best and most traditional of Cusco.
Chinchero customs – Chinchero is one of the most traditional towns in Cusco. In the textile centers, visitors will be able to appreciate some customs such as the red and black clothing of women. You can also taste some Andean food products such as coca leaves, corn, potatoes and more. All textile centers are famous because there they raise llamas, alpacas or small guinea pigs.
Chinchero Town – In the town of Chinchero, in addition to the textile centers, tourists will be able to walk through its streets, visit its market, drink the famous 'chicha', enter its church and visit its famous archaeological site, the ancient palace of the Inca Tupac Yupanqui. This town in the Sacred Valley of the Incas is also famous for its beautiful landscapes.
The visit to the textile centers is free. At the end of the demonstration, tourists can optionally provide a tip or purchase an alpaca garment to the workers of the textile center.
Hours of Operation
Chinchero textile centers are open every day of the year from 7 in the morning to 6 in the afternoon (hours vary according to each textile center).
Most tourists visit the textile centers of Chinchero as part of the tours to the 'Sacred Valley of the Incas 1 day'. These services also include a visit to: Pisac, Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. The cost of the tour is approximately 70 US dollars (varies according to each tourism agency).
The textile centers are a way of life for many of the Chinchero families. The mother tongue of the vast majority of its inhabitants is Quechua (the language of the Incas). Many are also engaged in agricultural work. These people, like most Peruvians, are friendly.
Chinchero is located in one of the highest geographical areas of Cusco (3,762 meters of altitude). At this point, symptoms of altitude sickness such as fatigue and nausea are normal. A good way to counteract these symptoms is by drinking plenty of water (especially coca tea). Avoid alcoholic beverages and fatty foods. Altitude sickness usually disappears spontaneously after 1 or 2 days of acclimatization.
During your visit to Chinchero (especially after 3 or 4 in the afternoon) take warm clothes with you. The cold during that hour can cause you some discomfort. At night, the minimum temperature in the town is -2 degrees Celsius (28.4 degrees Fahrenheit).