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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Museums in Cusco – Day 489

As part of our retreat, we received a Boleto Turistico Delcusco (BTC) ticket allowing us to visit 16 places in and around Cusco within 10 days. We had only used this for two sites, so today, with our buddy Suzanne, we visited two Museums in Cusco.

When we arrived in Cusco, the first person we met joining us on the retreat was Suzanne, a lovely lady from Quebec, Canada who we clicked with instantly. We spent the day with her visiting the Tapestry Museum (Day 480). It seemed apt that she was the last person from the retreat we were spending time with, again visiting Museums.

We met up at the Museo Histórico Regional which is in a beautiful colonial mansion dating back to the 16th century which originally belong to Garcilaso de la Vega (more on him later). The two-storey building surrounded a central courtyard, and we walked around the various rooms taking us through the region’s rich history.

I really enjoyed this Museum, there was so much variety that it catered for all.

It started off describing the formation of the Solar System, yes, we went right back in history, and I loved the phrase “…where (a) biological phenomena occurred giving rise the life on the planet (Earth)”.

Zooming forward to the last 10,000 years it described that the valley of Cusco used to be a glacial Lake, exhibiting fossils from that time. The Chavin and Wari civilisations came before the Incas in this region, and we saw the development and importance of ceramics for both ritual and practical purposes, including huge pots being used as burial chambers.

I found it so interesting finding out how the natural elements were used by the Andean people. Gold, Silver and other metals were very important. Gold was associated with the Sun and used in religious ceremonies and other metals were used in tools, weapons and jewellery. There was a fascinating replica of how they melted the metal ore.

The museum even had a small display describing the vast variety of food and natural medicines that Peru is famous for. Peruvian cuisine was declared as a National Cultural Heritage in 2007, and I must say that the food has been far superior to what we ate in Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

(Note: I have experienced an upset stomach as many of the retreat group have. This is the first time in 16 months of travel for me. Apparently, Cusco is renowned for this issue.)

Anyhow, back to the Museum. The next room was a stark contrast moving to the colonial period with a lot of paintings of this period. Not my cup of tea. This included five reliefs by an Italian Jesuit Bernardo Bitti Democritus who was the first artist to travel to South America back in 1574 as part of the missions and stayed here until his death. (Sorry, no photo, you’ll have to come and have a look for yourself).

There was also a very unsettling painting called “Virgin of the Mercy breastfeeding Saint Peter Nolasco”. This one was not painted by Bernado Bitti but did remind me of Harvey who wants “Bitty” in the UK TV Programme “Little Britain”.

We finally found out more about Garcilaso ‘Inca’ de la Vega who was born here in 1539. His father was a Spanish captain and his Inca mother, a Noblewoman. He was brought up by his mother, however, each side of the family ensured that he was exposed to the traditions of both cultures, and as a teenager he spent time with his father until his father’s death. A year later, aged 21 he set sail for Spain where he remained. Returning to Peru would have put him at risk of being killed due to his royal Inca lineage. His literature has been given pride of place in Peru, giving an understanding of Inca history, culture, and society. A nice end to a very interesting museum.

After lunch, which was sadly mediocre food-wise, but rich in conversation, we had a flying visit to the Museo de Arte Popular as Suzanne had a flight to catch. I am glad we could use our BTC tickets so we didn't need to pay. It was a rather quaint museum which turned out to be about Folk Art, mainly exhibiting lots of weird and amusing ceramics and sculptures such as those by Edilberto Merida. There were a few sculptures of nativity scenes with elongated necks by Hilario Mendivil and ceramic dolls with thick hair manufactured by Antonio Olave. Sadly we were not allowed to take photos so have a look at the links.

We walked back to the hotel to say a very fond farewell to Suzanne. I sense we will meet again. Then off to Tiwegers Barber Studio as Tim badly needed a haircut and shave. While waiting I sat watching BattleBots, the USA version of Robot Wars and speaking pigeon Spanish to a guy with a fabulous hairdo – I was quite tempted to have the same for myself. What do you think?

#MuseoHistóricoRegionalCusco #GarcilasoIncadelaVega #Chavin #Wari #Inca #Cusco #BernardoBittiDemocritus #Peru #MuseodeArtePopular #BTCticket #EdilbertoMerida #HilarioMendivil #AntonioOlave #BoletoTuristicoDelcusco #TiwegersBarberStudio

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