Argentinawithfriendstravel’s Weblog

June 27, 2008

Jujuy: Land of the Incas with

Jujuy: Land of the Incas

Jujuy is the cradle of Argentina’s Andean cultures. This northernmost province, which borders southern Bolivia, was conquered by the Incas in 1480. After the Spanish Conquest, Jujuy was part of colonial Peru until the late 16th century. Today, the province is emerging as an international destination, desirable for its rich traditions and breathtaking Andean landscape. The Humahuaca Gorge, declared a UNESCO World Cultural Landscape in 2003, is extensive canyon of colorful rock formations inhabited by free-roaming herds of vicuña and dotted with charming towns.

San Salvador de Jujuy, the province’s capital, is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and spacious plazas. Approximately 40 miles north of the city is the quaint adobe village of Purmamarca (the “Town of Virgin Land” in the Aymara tongue). Purmamarca is located at the base of the vivid Hill of Seven Colors, a mountain striped with hues ranging from purple to orange to white. Villagers gather in Purmamarca’s central plaza each morning for a traditional crafts market. The local church, St. Rosa de Lima, was built in 1648 and contains priceless artworks.

Twelve miles north of Purmamarca is Tilcara, another quiet village known for its adobe homes, steep roads, archeological museum and colorful terrain. Nearby is the Painter’s Pallet, a jagged mountainside distinguished by its zigzag bands of yellow stone. One of Tilcara’s most important historical sites is the fortified mountainside of Pucara. Here, amid towering green cacti and open skies, stone corrals and settlements provide visitors with a glimpse of pre-Inca times.

Northwest of Tilcara, is Humahuaca, a town set at 10,000 feet above sea level. The town’s narrow cobblestone streets lead past the craft market to the central plaza. Each day at noon, residents gather here in silence for a unique display of faith. As the church bells play Ave María, a pair of oxidized metal doors open in the clock tower, revealing a mechanical representation of San Francisco Solano. The world’s first animated saint then looks to the heavens before moving his arms in a blessing on the town.

“For where does one run to when he’s already in the promised land?” – Claude Brown

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