Are you looking for rare texts about Pre-Inca cultures that you can’t seem to find anywhere in Cusco? Do you want to watch a luthier make you a guitar? Are you wondering where you can go in Cusco to find the widest selection of chicha? Looking for some rusty spare engine parts? Then come to Baratillo.
What is Baratillo?
Baratillo is Cusco’s weekly happening flea market. If you’re spending time in Cusco, and have some free time on a Saturday, then I recommend that you go to Baratillo.
Getting ready to go to the market
The market isn’t as dangerous as some people say
One of the things that I always hear is that Baratillo is the best place in Cusco to get robbed.
After making no less than 20 trips to the market during the last several years, only once has somebody tried to rob me. But he was was a clumsy pick-pocketer, and I could instantly tell what he was trying to do. Yes, theives sometimes lurk through the market, just as they do in any crowded market in South America.
My advice is to not bring valuables that you don’t need, and to keep your money in a safe place. If you need to, strap your backpack to your chest. And be vigilant.
Do you want the good deals? Then come early
It’s a little-known fact that there are actually two different Baratillos: the super-early pre-dawn one, and the one that happens during the day. If you can make it before 4 am, you’ll be on time for the start of Baratillo.
Most early vendors come from villages outside of Cusco to sell their textiles and other handmade items. If you want to find a good deal, then this is the best time to go. By sunrise, most of the early vendors are already gone, having sold their market spaces to other vendors who come later in the day.
Things you’ll find at the market
Used and vintage clothing
You’ll find brand new mass-produced clothing from China, old and new shoes, hats, jackets, backpacks. Most of the new clothing will cost you a fraction of what you would pay if you bought it from a store in Cusco.
There are also several multi-floored warehouses where vendors set up tarps that are piled with waist-high mounds of used clothes. Most of the garments will cost less than three dollars.
If you want to invest in something that is rich in history, then this is a good place to go.
There are two entire streets of the market dedicated exclusively to textiles.
You’ll find a wide variety of garments, from handmade and naturally died clothing, to machine made synthetic sweaters. If you are not experienced at telling the differences between high-quality and low-quality textiles, bring a knowledgeable friend if you can.
Rare handmade instruments.
Check out Bellavista Street if you’re wondering where Cusco’s best luthiers are located. There are about 15 different shops on this street where you can buy instruments of all shapes and sizes. If you are going to get an instrument in Cusco, these are the best kinds of places to buy one.
You’ll know where the artisanal luthiers are when you walk into their shops. You’ll be greeted by wood shavings and mounds of instruments in various stages of creation. Most luthiers in Cusco specialize in making charangos, bandurias, recintos, harps, manodlines, and drums.
Sacred Inca and pre-Inca objects
You’ll find llama bone and condor bone flutes, ceremonial gords, ceramics, healing stones, rare seashells, and old coins. You can make these sorts of finds all over the market, but most are located in the market’s textile section.
Varieties of street food
Baratillo is the best place in Cusco to go if you want to try unique street foods. You’ll find more than 10 types of chicha, tamales, ceviche, assortments of fried meats, churros and all kinds of sweets.
Rare Andean texts: get yourself some wisdom (mostly in Spanish)
There are several vendors at the market who sell rare texts that explore the cultural and spiritual history of Peru.
Unfortunately, many of these books are illegally photocopied, so use your discretion.
Black-market electronics: If you get robbed in Cusco, come here to find your stuff.
When people in Cusco get something stolen, it’s a good bet that your things will make their way through Baratillo. That’s why locals who get robbed know to scour the market in hopes of recovering their stuff.
We recommend that you stay away from used electronics so that you’re not supporting theives. It’s not to say that all used electronics come from the black market, but it is a possibility.
how to get to Baratillo
The market is located on Prolongación Pera street, along Ejercito Ave, and near the Santiago Bridge,