The origin of the Maras salt mines - Legend of the Ayar Brothers

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    The origin of the Maras salt mines

    The Salineras de Maras are literally a salt mine and its exploitation is as old as the Tahuantinsuyo. The ownership of each plot is inherited in each family, but the exploitation is managed communally.

    The community members of Maras and Pichingoto collect and live on the salt that the mine gives them and have managed, after more than six centuries, to harvest it in the same way that their ancestors did.

    origen de las salineras de maras
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    Legend of the Ayar Brothers

    The origin of the Maras salt mines is associated with a version of the legend of the Ayar brothers. According to this, Ayar Kachi's tears (Kachi means salt in Quechua) formed the 3,000 pools of salt water and became transparent crystals. The bellicose brother, who was turned into a hill, would have broken down in tears upon learning of his brother, Ayar Manco, who had been chosen to found the Inca Empire.

    origen de las salineras de maras
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    The Harvest of Salt

    The name in Quechua of the salt mines is Kachi Raqa and they are made up of around 3,000 ponds of 5 m2 each, these are located on the side of the Qaqawiñay hill. The salt mines form terraces or platforms, a stream nourishes the pools with salt water. The water filters and evaporates from the pools thanks to the intense mountain sun, causing coarse salt crystals to sprout that after 1 month reach 10 cm in height, when it is necessary to hit and granulate it.

    origen de las salineras de maras
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    The Marketing of Salt

    Once ready, the salt is collected in bags and sent to different markets in the region. Today we also find it in the main supermarkets of the capital.

    Its coarse grains and pale pink color, unlike cooking salt, do not go through a refining process, in addition Maras salt has flavor, a detail that has placed it among the main gourmet inputs of chefs in Peru.

    origen de las salineras de maras
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    La Sal de Maras is a gourmet product used by the best chefs

    One of the main restaurants in the country is named after Maras in honor of this legendary salt, the place is located in the Westin, the most exclusive hotel in Lima and is managed by the renowned Chef Rafael Piqueras.

    The pink salt of Maras reaches today the markets of the United States, Germany, Italy, Japan, France, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, the Philippines, Singapore among others, it also contains a good level of magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc , which makes it healthier than other salts.

    origen de las salineras de maras
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    How to get to the Salinas de Maras

    Traveling by Taxi or Bus on the Cuzco - Urubamba highway until Km 50 (passing Chinchero) there is an entrance on the left side known as "El Ramal de Maras". If you go by bus there are always buses that take you in about 10 to 15 minutes to the salt mines

    origen de las salineras de maras


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