The Central San Pedro Market in Cusco (Marcedo San Pedro).
A visit to the San Pedro market while you are in Cusco, will be a fantastic experience. It is a blast of color, aroma, and activity. A sensory overload will welcome you as you enter the market. The smell of fruit, raw and cooked meats, the array of colors, and the market sounds will invade your senses as soon as you are inside. There is an assortment of fruits and vegetables, juices, bread and meats, clothing, and animal head stews. In addition, the vendors offer a rich display of the sights and smells of traditional Cusco. If you are a food enthusiast, this might be an incredible place to start your morning while in the city.
San Pedro Market Cusco
San Pedro Market is just a few blocks from Cuzco’s central plaza, Plaza de Armas. It is an 8-minute walk South of the plaza. It is one of Cusco’s largest open-air markets and is frequented by locals and tourists. It is the primary and oldest market in the city and is an ideal place for those hoping to get a glimpse of everyday Andean life.
The market was originally a local food market; however, it has transformed into a tourist block over the years. It is organized in blocks that differ according to the merchandise offered. That includes; bread, meats, fruits, vegetables, clothing, and other Andean crafts.
The San Pedro market was initially located at Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Francisco. During Manuel Silvestre Frisancho’s administration as the city mayor at the end of the 1910s, however, the market was transferred to its current location.
The construction commenced in 1925, although it was never complete until 1950. The market was instated to start functioning on June 6th, 1925, while still incomplete. The first structure was made by French architect Gustave Eiffel, who built the Eiffel tower in Paris. The colonial-style market building was constructed with a singular floor plan. It bears the Eiffel’s hallmark of construction: the columns and English metal roofs.
Since Mayor Manuel Silvestre Frisancho inaugurated the market, it was initially called “Mercado Frisancho” and was first administrated by Mr. Emilio Astete. The market building was later expanded in 1955 after the 1950 earthquake and has since been the commercial center of Cusco.
What to see at San Pedro Market?.
There are plenty of things to see, from bizarre stuff to fruits, bread, and jumpers. At some point on your tour inside the market, you may come across things like dead pickled snakes, a donkey head, dragon blood, an entire bucket of snouts, or even the dried fetus of an alpaca or Ilama fat. While the list of strange stuff in the market can be pretty extensive, there is plenty to see inside the market. Let’s dive right into it;
The “San Pedro Market” is so beautiful and picturesque, with many vibrant colors. So many people often visit the national and foreign market because of its wide range of services. You can buy beautiful traditional souvenirs here, and there is a wide variety.
The stalls range from food stalls, fabric, and traditional clothes to traditional healers, witch doctors, and ointments extracted from different animal parts.
Souvenirs – Handcraft.
If you are considering buying something cheap and of good quality to take back to your friends or family, San Pedro Market has an assortment for you. The prices gems are affordable, and you can bargain if you feel you want an even fairer price. Be sure to offer a price that is fair to both you and the trader. Here you can find things like; clothing made from alpaca wool, Ilama wool, sheep wool, and some synthetic made items, cups, hats, pens, bowls, wallets, belts, necklaces, among other souvenirs.
Food at San Pedro Market.
If you are a food enthusiast, this is the best place to indulge your taste buds. Although the San Pedro market is suitable for touring, you should know that most of the food served inside the market is focused on local delicacies. You will find most of the locals sited inside the food sections during the mealtimes. However, it is always good to try out something new. You might want to cautiously choose so that you do not leave with an upset stomach.
Soups and Meals.
Some of the soups you will encounter at the market are made of chicken or beef and vegetables, while others may be a bit out of the ordinary. Most of the soups are made with all the parts of an animal, so you may want to remember that you might encounter a sheep’s eye, tongue, jaw with teeth, pig snout, or chicken foot. These soups, however, tend to be very nutritious and delicious if you can get past the shock. They are often served with potatoes, rice, and vegetables. That is because they tend to cook every part of an animal in this market.
You can always browse through the different traditional food booths with various options until you find something that agrees with you.
Fruits and Juices.
You will find some rare fruits that only exist in Peru inside of this market. These fruits include; chirimoya, granadilla, awaymantu, capuli, and lucuma; among others, the Incas domesticated them. There is a whole section for fruits well arranged with their different colors inside the market.
You will find a section dedicated to juice stalls all over the market to quench your thirst. Like the soups, some of the juices may be strange to you, so you can always choose the fruits you are familiar with and enjoy freshly pressed juice with super fresh and nutritious ingredients.
While we have studied some of the meats offered at the market, there are a couple of typical Cusco dishes that you should not miss out on during your visit;
Cuy – Guinea Pig.
This delicacy is called Cuy (pronounced COOee) or guinea pig, an important food source amongst indigenous groups in South America, in the Andes Region. Cuy is usually baked or fried and served with potatoes and stuffed pepper; you can find it at the stalls or with street vendors.
The alpaca looks like a small Ilama. Meat from alpacas tends to be more tender than Ilama meat. The steak is served with potatoes, rice, and vegetables.