Maras Salt Mines: The
sons of the legend
The picturesque town of Maras is home to the most important salt mines in the region. The city is located 46 km. from the city of Cusco in the province of Urubamba and still maintains its colonial architecture. Beautiful terraces have been finely carved from stone, as well as lintels with sculptures.
The salt mines have been exploited since Inca times and during the Vice-regency, it was the largest salt producer of the southern highlands.
Barrionuevo comments on the origin of this settlement in "Cusco Mágico": "The Maras believe that they come from the ancient Maras who once came out of the heart of the mountain, the Sacred Tanpu T'oqo. This legendary mountain exists in the province of Paruro and had three windows. The largest one was called Qhapaq T'oqo or "window of the lords", where the Ayar brothers, founders of the Tahuantisuyo came out. The other two are where the Maras and the Tambos came out.
The first Maras belonged to the clan of Ayar Cachis, who was lord of the salt, which turned into a mountain close to Cusco. It is possible that they stayed there to settle because it is thought that inside the mountain there are fabulous salt mines".