Peruvian culture is a beautiful mix of Hispanic and native traditions. The Quechua and the Aymara are the two main native cultures of Peru, both of whom speak their native languages. These Incan descendants have successfully preserved and developed their proud cultures despite the creeping in of globalization. In fact, the old Incan seat of Cuzco is still perceived as the cultural capital of the country by many.
Peruvian typical dress is beautiful. In some regions, the women wear layers of bright skirts called polleras. Some wear black skirts with a wide embroidered belt, or cotton petticoats underneath with elaborate designs. Peruvian ponchos are a necessity in the highlands, where the cold can be harsh; the ponchos of Cajamarca and Puno are long and dramatic, where as those of Cuzco are shorter. Woolen or straw hats are also common.
A Peruvian tour should include some exposure to the country’s art, both modern and ancient. The pre-Spanish artifacts are striking examples of artistic expression, from jewelry and weavings to stone and metal carvings. Mestizo and indigenous painting styles developed during the colonial period and have evolved into a complex artistic culture.
Some of Peru’s architecture is breathtaking; the colonial city of Arequipa is the perfect example. White cathedrals and facades rise out of the cobblestone streets, and there are architectural treasures dotting the winding avenues, from old monasteries and mansions to cottages.
In the realm of ancient architecture, the lost city of Machu Picchu is unparalleled in its engineering and location. The stone temples and salons rise directly out of the mountain’s peak, that falls away on all sides to the rivers below. The terraced gardens reveal the agricultural advances of the Incas, and the astrological markers show incredible precision and knowledge of celestial events. The lost city is one of the world’s great wonders.
Peruvian music is distinctive, and a Peruvian tour will likely feature several tastes of it. It is a blend of the pre-Colombian influences of wind instruments and drums with delicate Spanish stringed instruments.