(Altitude: 3,850 m / 12,628 ft, Population: 8,157, Phone Code: 051)
From Chucuito, the road begins to head away from Lago Titicacaâs shores, passing through small villages like PlaterÃa, a town once renowned for rich silver mines and now a producer of fine alpaca clothing, and Ilave, a commercial center with a large livestock market. The highway then comes back to the lake, arriving at Juli, the capital of Chucuito Province.
This town, at the foot of a mountain shaped like a sleeping lion, is nicknamed âThe Little Rome of Americaâ for the four hills that surround it. Juli was founded in 1534 by the Dominicans. It was the Dominicansâ and Jesuitsâ main center for training missionaries, and had one of the first printing presses in the Americas. Juli was also a rest stop for caravans traveling between the PotosÃ silver mines and the coast.
Juliâs main attractions are its colonial churches. The best preserved of these is Iglesia San Pedro (1565-1576), on the west side of the Plaza de Armas. This Baroque-mestizo styled church is built of white granite. The church has a Baroque altar and paintings by the Italian master Bernardo Bitti. Also on the plaza are ruins of the Casa de la InquisiciÃ³n, with interesting doorways and windows.
Two blocks north of the plaza is Templo de San Juan de LetrÃ¡n (early 16th century), which has a museum (Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jr Juli 325. Tel: 368-278, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Entry: $2). The church has a magnificently carved sacristy door, and a gold-leaf and silver altar. Over 80 paintings from the CusqueÃ±a School and translucent piedra de Huamanga stone windows adorn the walls.
Nuestra SeÃ±ora de la AsunciÃ³n (1568-1602), two blocks west of Templo de San Juan, is also a museum (Jr La AsunciÃ³n s/n. Tel: 368-278, E-mail: email@example.com). Its Baroque-mestizo architecture features a massive campanille.
The oldest of the churches is Santa Cruz de JerusalÃ©n, located four blocks east of Plaza de Armas. All that remain are its thick walls joined by skeletal arches, as it was destroyed by a lightning strike in 1914.
East of Juli, towards the Bolivian border, is Pomata (26 km / 16 mi). This small village has a beautiful early-18th century church, Templo de Santiago ApÃ³stol, which has catacombs and a large collection of paintings from the CusqueÃ±a school. Near Pomata is Zona Reservada Cerro Khapia, an 18,314-hectare (45,255-ac) reserve that protects a sacred apu (place of mountain spirits).
Juliâs market days are Sunday (best) and Wednesday. The townâs anniversary is celebrated throughout May, complete with parades, boat races, cockfights, artisan fair and other events. September 14-16 is the feast of patron saint, SeÃ±or de ExaltaciÃ³n de la Santa Cruz, also known as Urqo Fiesta or Fiesta de los Machos. A number of traditional masked dances are performed only for this festival.
Juli has many services, including Banco de la NaciÃ³n (Jr San Juan 138), hotels and restaurants. Roma Aymara is an artisan cooperative that specializes in embroidery and woven ruandas or ponchos (Mirando Huyo, Comunidad de Huaquina. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org). A useful website is: www.munijuli.gob.pe.
Juli is 79 kilometers (48 mi) south of Puno. Just before the point where highway to Bolivia splits for the crossing at Yunguyo and the one at Desaguadero. Frequent buses and minivans connect Juli with Puno and the two border towns (1.5 hr, $2). They depart from JirÃ³n Lima, two streets from the Plaza de Armas, and arrive near the market, downhill from the plaza.