Friday, June 21, 2024

Stonehenge and Cuzco, two destinations united by the cult of the sun

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Solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, which means sun and statum, literally means ‘static sun’. It is the time of the year when the sun is in one of the tropics, with the length of the day or night being the maximum of the year.

It occurs regularly around June 21 , and is called summer or vernal, in the northern hemisphere , and it so happens that it is the longest day and the shortest night, and winter or hiemal, in the southern hemisphere. , which supposes the opposite, the shortest day and the longest night. In both cases, the rituals, celebrations and traditions revolve around the sun as a symbol of rebirth and hope.

Two spiritual destinies

Midsummer and Stonehenge (UK)


Thousands of people have celebrated the summer solstice at Stonehenge.

Stonehenge is a megalithic site over 5,000 years old, declared a World Heritage Site , located near Amesbury , in the county of Wiltshire. The so-called ‘Temple of the Sun’ is made up of concentric circles of stones that are up to five meters high and weigh almost fifty tons.

Specialists say that it was once a cemetery, but the purpose of this structure is not known for sure, the only thing evident is that its purpose is related to the sunrise and sunset.


The most colorful characters attend the summer solstice in Stonehenge, UK.

In the 1960s, astronomer Gerald Hawkins suggested that the group of megalithic stones functioned as an astronomical calendar, although, more recently, signs of disease and injury in unearthed human remains indicate it may be considered a healing site.

During the solstices, the sun’s rays are singularly aligned between the stones , passing over the heel stone, outside the circle. For many it is a sacred site , which is why almost twelve thousand people gather every year in this very special place to watch the sunrise. You can see the most diverse people, with costumes and accompanied by musical instruments.


Hundreds of people gathered on June 21, before sunrise, at Stonehenge, England, to celebrate the summer solstice. And they did it by dressing as druids, pagans and revelers.

The authorities have prohibited alcohol, drugs, making a fire, bringing chairs, tables… it is only possible to carry a small backpack and warm clothes. Access is free and can be reached on foot, by bike, by bus and by taxi, it is only four kilometers from Amesbury.

For those who want to attend the event and also have a good time, there is a festival that lasts four days in the vicinity of the monument. You can camp, drink, eat and there is live music for only €30. Look at the web.

Inti Raymi in Cuzco (Peru)


The Inca King participating in the Inti Raymi in Saqsayhuman, Cuzco, Peru.

On the other side, in Peru , the Inti Raymi ceremony takes place , the festival of the sun, which is attended by some 200,000 people. It is an ancient religious ceremony of the Inca empire in honor of the god Inti.

According to tradition, Pachacútec, the first Inca, created this rite to celebrate the winter solstice that marked the first day of the New Year in the Inca calendar. The celebration lasted 15 days, with dances, traditions, coca leaves, chicha (Inca beer) and animal sacrifices. It was an annual cycle in which the sun was reborn every year.


The Inca king during the Inti Raymi at the castle of Saqsayhuman.

During the night before the solstice, the lights of the Plaza de Huacaypata, the current Plaza de Armas of Cuzco, went out, and the king with his family , barefoot, waited for the sunrise squatting before the nobility, the army and the people. .

Then everyone went to the Qorikancha temple where they delivered offerings to the sun and made animal sacrifices that were cooked in the sacred fire that emerged from the High Priest’s bracelet. Later, they distributed the food among those present.


Inti Raymi celebration by the locals in the Plaza de Haukaypata (Plaza de Armas) in Cuzco.

The representation , in which thousands of people with typical dresses take part, begins in front of the Qorikancha . The locals usually arrive early to see how the Inca king makes an invocation to the sun.

The last Inti Raymi with the presence of the Inca was performed in 1535. After the Spanish conquest, the ceremony was suppressed by the Catholic Church and was forgotten until the middle of the 20th century, when they decided to recover it and perform a theatrical interpretation of what it was, for this they changed the original date to June 24.


Drums accompany the Inti Raymi Celebrations festival in Cuzco.

The royal entourage continues the short distance to the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco, where most of the ceremony takes place . The best place to not miss anything is the balconies of the bars, cafes, and restaurants that surround the plaza.

Spectators, meanwhile, wait on the esplanade of the ancient Inca archaeological site of Saqsayhuman, where the final part of the recreation takes place . Here grandstands with a capacity for 3,859 spectators are set up that can be purchased online. The festival ends with the sound of horns, panpipes, and drums..

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