Some of Peru's most vivacious festivals are celebrated a breathless 12,566 feet above sea level on the windswept shores of Lake Titicaca. Puno, in spite of its unforgivingly dry, cold climate and austere appearance, hosts exuberant folklore extravaganzas featuring music, dancing and street parties that have earned it the title of Folklore Capital of Peru. Currently, Puno is Peru's third most popular destination for foreign tourists, thousands of whom converge on the city each February to witness the country's largest festival: Virgen de la Candelaria.
Tourists also visit the city due to its being home to handsome exemplars of Republican-era architecture and the port of departure for exploring the lake's floating reed islands, island communities and surrounding archaeological sites. Many visitors choose to lodge in hotels near Puno's Plaza de Armas, where the magnificent cathedral stands in close proximity to historic mansions, including that of Viceroy Conde de Lemos who founded Puno and built his home in 1668.