Peru was a Spanish colony for some 300 years from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. From religion to language to cuisine to art, the Spanish cultural legacy is prominent but has not entirely superseded Peru's indigenous heritage. While Spanish is the official state language, indigenous languages like Quechua and Aymara are widely spoken, especially in rural areas, and many pre-Columbian traditions survive and are respected. In addition to Machu Picchu, there are numerous ancient archaeological sites remaining around the country.
Peru's calendar is packed with festivals, mostly related either to Catholic observances or indigenous traditions—or a syncretic mix of both. The festivals celebrated vary region by region. But some of the more popular include Carnival (which is especially interesting in highland cities like Puno, Cuzco, and Cajamarcaand) and Holy Week (check out the celebration in Ayacucho). Another famous festival is Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun, held in Cusco on June 24. It dates back to the Incas and honors the winter solstice, with celebrations throughout the streets culminating in a re-enactment of the original Inca festival at the Saksaywamán ruins.
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