The city of Puno is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca - an
amazing deep blue lake which is 121 miles (195 kilometres) in
length, with an average width of 31 miles (50 kilometres), which
makes it the largest lake in South America and the largest in the
world above 6,562 feet (2,000 metres) in altitude. According
to Andean legend, Lake Titicaca was the birthplace of civilization.
Wiracocha, the creator god, brought light into a dark world by
directing the Sun, Moon and stars to rise up out of the lake and
take their place in the sky. In time, the Sun and Moon had children
who also rose from the depths of the lake.
These new people were sent out from Titicaca to the four corners
of the earth, with Manco Capac and his sister-wife Mama Ocllo and
their family clan being sent off to inhabit the Cusco region. Inca
legend believed that Manco was the first Inca and a direct
descendent of the Sun. The supposed location of the birthplaces of
the Sun, Moon and Manco Capac are found on islands on the Bolivian
side of the lake: Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) and Isla de la
Luna (Island of the Moon). The city of Puno, whose full name is San
Carlos de Puno, was founded in 1668 following the discovery of
silver mines in the region. Before this, Puno had simply been a
stopping place for people travelling between the much larger silver
mines at Potosi in Bolivia and Lima.