A vital Inca road once snaked its way up the canyon that enters the Sacred Valley at PISAC, and the ruined citadel, which sits at the entrance to the gorge, controlled a strategic route connecting the Inca Empire with Paucartambo, on the borders of the eastern jungle. Less than an hour from Cusco by bus, the town is now most commonly visited – apart from a look at the citadel – for its morning market, which takes place three times a week.

In addition, the main local fiesta – Virgen del Carmen (July 16–18) – is a good alternative to the simultaneous but more remote Paucartambo festival of the same name (see Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen), with processions, music, dance groups, the usual firecracker celebrations, and food stalls around the plaza.

Pisac market

The thriving market is held in the town’s main square, where you can buy hand-painted ceramic beads and pick up the occasional bargain. Even if the market’s not on, there are still a number of excellent artesanía shops, particularly along Calle Bolognesi (try Walter’s or Luigi), which connects the Sacred Valley road and river bridge with the plaza.