The Festival of Crosses, Peru

Most holidays, fiestas and festivals, whether religious or secular, hold a special place in Peruvian culture, none though as much as the “Festival of the Crosses”.

So if you are planning a trip to Peru in early May the “Festival of the Crosses” (“The Fiesta de las Cruces”) or Cruz de Mayo (“May Cross”) is the oldest religious festival in the world and well worth trying to see if your itinerary allows. It is celebrated in the first Sunday of May in many parts of South America and Spain.

If you are travelling to Peru’s capital “Lima” or you are visiting Lima at this time, is well worth enjoying the Festival of Crosses in all its splendour. It is a bright and colourful event which sees the carrying of many decorated crosses, usually around 14 crosses. This are carried with a full procession through the city centre and up to “San Cristobal Hill” (or as it’s locally known Cerro San Cristóbal).

San Cristobal Hill and its 400m peak is located reasonably close to the centre of Lima and offers a magnificent and unique panoramic view of the city of Lima, which is the best vantage point around to take in the spectacular views for miles around. Peru is essentially a Catholic country and San Cristobal Hill receives a large number of visitors and pilgrims during the Holy Week celebrations.

One of the crosses that can be visible during this time is that of the “Chakana”, which is a square cross with jagged edges. The Chakana is divided into four kingdoms, with three steps each meaning the three worlds: kaypacha (surface), ukupacha (underground) and hananpacha (heaven). It is a cross which is more relating to the Inca mythology, rather to one of the modern catholic belief’s.

Other than this festival, if you are planning a visit to Peru and Lima in particular, plus want to tour and see the sights of the city, the best time you year is spring and summer, which are considered the best seasons touring in this area, mainly when it is more likely to have clear, sunny days, which will improve the visual experience. The best time of day to take in the views from San Cristobal Hill is generally either early morning or between 2pm and 5pm in the afternoon.

Apart from the Huge 20 metre high cross perched on top of the hill, there is also a museum to visit and soak up some history, then you can enjoy the views from the summit and take breathtaking panoramic photographs of the city of Lima to capture your visit.

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