In this series we will venture to one of the fundamental pillars of the Andean worship of mountains.  These were and are still considered sacred since archaic times, prior to the time of the Incas. Although, the Andean region was evangelized from the 16th century to the present day, it is impossible not to notice the devotion to these mountains.

Apu Pachatusan, located south of the city of Cusco

Let’s start first with its etymology, the word Apu is a Quechua word that means Lord. The Apus are mountains held by living beings, who are attributed direct influence on the life cycles of the region they dominate. It has a meaning associated with a divinity, that is why the inhabitants of the region implore them for favors such as the coming of rain or the multiplication and protection of their animals. The Andean people honor them by providing them offerings, and also, during the day to day, inviting them the first sip of the chicha (fermented corn drink) that they kindly pour into the land saying in a low voice the name of the respective Apu from which they come.Cusco is a city that never ceases to amaze us, there is always something new to visit, value newly excavated ruins, other routes to explore, the city never stands still and it is more alive than ever!

View from the city center, you can see the Picol mountain (left) and Pachatusan (right)

The hills that define Cusco have been considered sacred within the Andean magical-religious context, which induced their occupation. These geographical features constituted the settings in which important historical and mythical events took place. As real elements, they rooted and strengthened the different ayllus and human groups during the pre-Hispanic Andean hegemony.

These telluric forces conditioned the orientation of the urban fabric of the city of Cusco, along with the astronomical positions of the deified heavenly bodies, still enter the urban space of the streets and squares of Cusco.

Huanacaure Mountain, one of the Apus with the greatest historical significance in the development of the Cusco valley

The hills that define the Cusco valley, contain a multiplicity of natural elements considered sacred since archaic times. The components of the natural landscape allowed the establishment and consolidation of the first human settlements in the Cusco valley. In this particular case, the Apu Huanacure has participated in two founding legends of Cusco, the Ayar brothers and the legend of Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo.

Ausangate Mountain, the main Apu of Cusco

IAnother important Apus of the region is the snowy Salkantay, with a height of 6271 meters.

Apachetas (rocks piled up as an offering) in Abra Salkantay

Fortunately, these main deities are visited regularly on walks that mix adventure and cultural immersions with local communities, so thanks to tourism, populations can continue with their ancestral lifestyle.

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