San Pedro market
The San Pedro market is the most famous commercial center in Cusco. Its origins date back to colonial times, where different merchants met offering their products on the street. Over the years, the architecture of the site changed, giving way to a spacious and clean establishment. Cusco citizens congregate there seeking to do the daily ‘market’. But foreign tourists looking to buy food, souvenirs, clothing or simply take a photo in this popular place also gather.
Everything about the San Pedro Market
What is the San Pedro market?
The San Pedro market is a very popular commercial establishment in Cusco. It is the oldest market in the city, which was part of the Inca trail that connected the Main Square of Cusco (Huacaypata square in Inca times) with the rest of the empire. Part of its fame is due to its proximity to the city center. Also to the food and craft products that they offer to the visitor. Nowadays it is a center with a lot of cultural richness, because there are people from Cusco and tourists.
Where it is located? How to get?
The market is located right in the middle of the San Pedro square, a few meters from the Main Square of Cusco. You can get there by taxi, although the way most visitors get there is by walking (approximately 10-minute route). To do this, you only have to ascend in a western direction, crossing the San Francisco Square and the Arco de Santa Clara. Any Cusco citizen will be happy to provide references to tourists.
Map to get to the San Pedro Market
During Inca times, the area of the San Pedro square was part of a section of the network of ‘qhapac ñan’ (Inca roads) that communicated the Main Square of Cusco with the rest of the city towards the ‘Contisuyo’. During the colony, that place was awarded to the ‘Order of Santa Clara’. During the republished era and, with the passage of time, due to the fact that no construction was destined, the place was called ‘Pampa de Qasqaparo’. In front was the colonial church of San Pedro.
A principios del siglo XX, el alcalde de Cusco, Manuel Silvestre Frisancho, ordenó la reubicación de los comerciantes que se habían asentado en la plaza principal y la plaza San Francisco con el fin de hacer más saludable el comercio en la ciudad, ya que el matadero municipal fue ubicado en San Pedro. Thus, the construction of the new market began, which was under the direction of the French architect Gustave Eiffel (the same one who designed the ‘Eiffel Tower’ in Paris)
In 1925 the market was inaugurated. The most striking thing about its construction was its iron roof with resistant columns that keep the corrugated sheets standing. Several years later, in 1950, due to the growing population of the city, the market expanded, acquiring the dimensions that it has today. In total there are 1180 stores that offer groceries, crafts, clothing and much more. The growth of tourism has made it a popular destination in the city.
The San Pedro market is famous for its hundreds of edible products including fruits, vegetables, spices, drinks and more, such as: corn, cocoa, peppers, quinoa, kiwicha, maca and more. The most popular food products are in the meat section. There are traded: beef heads, including their muzzle, ears, tongue, testicles and more. Cusqueños usually cook ‘soup’ with these products.
In the San Pedro market, herbs are sold whose natural healing properties for various diseases are widely used by the people of Cusco. This was the way the Incas healed themselves many years ago. One of the most famous plants is the coca leaf, which is rich in vitamins A, B, C and E and has blood pressure regulating properties. This leaf was considered sacred by the Incas.
Although at first it was not created for such a function, the San Pedro market also offers artisan products for tourists. There, the visitor can buy ceramics, clothing with Andean motifs, alpaca ponchos, masks, musical instruments and all kinds of souvenirs. In addition to the San Pedro market, the artisan center on El Sol Avenue in Cusco is the main point of sale of handicrafts.
The cheapest restaurants in Cusco are in the San Pedro market. There, anyone can taste delicious Peruvian and Cusco food for only 5 Peruvian soles a plate (approximately 2 US dollars). In the market the ‘soups’ made from cattle head are famous. Remember that Peruvian gastronomy is one of the best on the planet. Some of the most famous dishes are: the ceviche, the lomo saltado, the fried trout, the stuffed cause and more.
Peru Rail Station
Right in front of the San Pedro market is the Peru Rail train ticket office. There tourists can purchase train tickets that will take them to Machu Picchu town. Some services depart directly from this station called ‘San Pedro’. However, most services depart from the Ollantaytambo station.
San Pedro Church
The church of San Pedro is a colonial building built in 1572 on the old National Natural Hospital. The church consists of two towers on the sides, an imafron of three bodies, a semicircular arch, niches, cornice and ornaments in gold and silver leaf. Inside there are paintings by artists from the so-called ‘Cusco School’. Due to its location, it belongs to the Historic Center of Cusco, considered ‘Cultural Heritage of Humanity’.
Images of the San Pedro market
The San Pedro market is open to the public from Monday to Sunday from 6 in the morning until 7 at night. Entering there is free. Most people visit this place on their own. However, some few prefer to visit it through the ‘Walking Tour Cusco’.
There are special dates when the San Pedro market offers fairs with traditional products such as the famous ‘Pan chuta’ (35 centimeters in diameter), cacao (Cusco export product), chiri uchú (characteristic of Cusco stew based on cuy) and others. The most special dates for the market are: Corpus Christi (early June), Inti Raymi (June 24), Christmas (June 25) and much more.
Some of the most famous food centers in Cusco are: the San Blas market, the Wanchaq market, the Cascaparo market, the Rosaspata market, among others.
Some tips for your visit
In the San Pedro market you can find some hard-to-find products, such as ‘maras salt’, ‘Cusco cacao chocolates’, ‘coca leaf’, ‘jungle cigarettes’ and much more. Do not miss the opportunity to know some news of this famous market.
Most market stalls do not have a payment system with credit or debit cards. That is why the best alternative to make purchases there is to carry cash. You can make your payments in US dollars, although it is best to change money to the official currency of Peru, the ‘Peruvian Nuevo Sol’.
The San Pedro market is safe. There is surveillance 24 hours a day. Still, take care of your belongings, especially if you visit the surroundings away from the market (the Cascaparo market, the Paraíso shopping center, and so on). It is recommended to visit the market during its opening hours, which are from 6 in the morning to 7 at night.