Lake Titicaca and Puno, Peru

Puno was founded in 1668 by the Spanish due to its proximity to the Laykakota silver mines, first developed in 1657. Puno is a folklore center with a rich array of handicrafts, costumes, holidays, legends and more than 300 ethnic dances. Among the latter, the most famous is the Diablada (Devil dance) performed during the feast of the Virgin of Candelaria during the first two weeks in February. Dancers fiercely compete to outdo one another. The dance is notable for its profusion of costly and grotesque masks. It is difficult to find a month in Puno without at least one elaborate festival, which is always accompanied by music and dance.

Among Puno attractions are the cathedral, with an altar of marble and plated in silver. On the Plaza de Armas there is a library and art gallery, and nearby is a museum holding artifacts from several distinct cultures.

Huajsapata Park features a white statue of Manco Capac, founder of the Incas, and commands a panoramic view. The city market is a colorful collection of people, goods and food. For sale are colorful blankets, Alpaca wool ponchos, miniatures of the reed boats and ceramic statues, called Ekekos, that are said to bring good luck.

Near Puno is the pre-Inca Sillustani burial ground. The cylindrical tombs were built above ground and the dead would be mummified in a fetal position before being placed in the tomb.

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