Travel Guide: America Heritage Site
In this page you will find useful information about Cajamarca: General information, Location, History, Main attractions and Typical dishes.
- Location: North of the Country
- Area: 33 317 km2
- Capital: Cajamarca (2720 masl)
Mínimum: 420 masl (Tembladera)
Máximum: 3502 masl (Hualgayoc)
855 km (531.3 miles) from Lima
294 km (182.7 miles) from Trujillo
258 km (160.3 miles) from Chiclayo
- Population: 92,400 inhabitants
Cajamarca conjures up images of fertile fields stretching along the roadside and climbing up the hillsides and across the highland plains and ravines.
The city of Cajamarca, considered the Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Americas, was transformed by the Inca empire into an important administrative, military and religious center. On November 16, 1532, Cajamarca witnessed a key date in the history of the Americas, when a band of Spanish soldiers led by Conqueror Francisco Pizarro took Inca ruler Atahualpa captive. The Spanish chroniclers claimed he filled a chamber (the Ransom Room) with gold and twice over with silver to as far as he could stretch his hand. Today a line runs round the room showing where to what point the treasure stacked up.
The city reflects Spanish influence in its architecture, such as the Cathedral, the churches of San Francisco, Belén and La Recoleta, and the two-storey houses with twin-eaved roofs. To the east of the city lie the Baños del Inca, the natural hot springs which the Inca ruler was fond of. The district also features the Ventanillas de Otuzco, a complex of burial caves carved out in pre-Inca times. The province of San Pablo is home to two major archaeological complexes: Cumbemayo, a set of ceremonial altars and Inca aqueducts, and Kuntur Wasi, a ceremonial complex of several squares and platforms held up by huge stone walls.
North of the city is Granja Porcón, a dairy farm where travelers can take part in farming chores. The farm is famous for its herd of cows which are still called by name at milking time.
Carnival time in Cajamarca is among the most famous festivals in February in Peru. The townspeople are an easy-going, amiable folk, and carnival time involves entire neighborhoods and institutions until the end of the festival, when the participants symbolically bury Ño Carnavalón, the king of the carnival. The celebrations go on for around a month, but there are eight main days, when participants are often doused with water.
The department of Cajamarca is located in the north of the country, at the foot of occidental chain of the Andes, and comprising parts of the Sierra and the Jungle. It limits to the north with Ecuador, to the south with La Libertad, to the east with Amazonas, and to the west with Piura and Lambayeque . Cajamarca has an extension of 36,418 km² (14,000 sq ml) and a population of 1 300,000 people.
The capital is the city of Cajamarca, located at 2,719 m.a.s.l. (8,900 ft), on a beautiful and fertile valley, surrounded by a colorful landscape with all shades of green. The weather is mild, dry and sunny. Other important cities are Celendín, Jaén, Chota, Cajabamba, Contumazá, and Cutervo.
The origin of the city of Cajamarca goes back 3,000 years. The first settlers were the Huacaloma, Layzón, Combe Mayo, and Otuzco. As settlement of the Caxamarca culture, it reached its greatest development between the years 500 through 1000 AD.
Around 1450, Cápac Yupanqui, brother of the ruling Inca Pachacutec, conquered this land incorporating it to the Tahuantinsuyo.
In November of 1532, Cajamarca was the site of one of the most transcendent episodes in universal history: a group of Spanish, under the command of conqueror Francisco Pizarro, took Inca Atahualpa as prisoner. This incident brought forth the meeting of two worlds, the origin of the mestizaje or mixing of bloods, and a new era in the history of Peru.
On February 11, 1855, the city of Cajamarca was designated capital of the department by Supreme Decree given by the President at the time, Marshal Ramón Castilla.
On September 14, 1986 the Organization of American States (OAS) declared Cajamarca a Historic and Cultural Patrimony of The Americas.
Plaza de Armas or Main Square. It is one of the largest and of greatest historical value in the country. It was there that the meeting of two cultures was proposed. It is located in the same place as the ancient plaza where the Inca Atahualpa was executed.
Cathedral. Located on one side of the main square, it was built in the seventeenth century. The façade is a refined example of Baroque art with Plateresque reminiscences, with arcades, arabesque work, cornices, and vaulted niches. The main altar is totally covered in gold leaf.
Iglesia de San Francisco. It is part of the convent of the same name. It contains valuable pieces of art, as icons, images and religious paintings. Also a museum of Colonial religious art.
Conjunto Monumental Belén. Its construction dates from the eighteenth century. It is a Colonial historic monument, a great exponent of Spanish American Baroque and a symbol of the cultural identity of Cajamarca.
Iglesia de La Recoleta. Built in the seventeenth century and located in the popular quarter of San Sebastián. It shows a sober façade carved in stone and decorated by triple arch espadañas.
El Cuarto del Rescate. This is the principal monument in Cajamarca due that it symbolizes the meeting of two worlds and the only vestige of Inca architecture there. This was the room where the captive Inca Atahualpa offered one room filled with gold and two of silver to obtain his liberty.
Colina Santa Apolonia. Splendid natural belvedere dominating the whole valley. Parts of a pre-Inca (Chavín) stone altar may be seen, commonly known as la silla del Inca, the chair of the Inca.
Baños del Inca. These are bathing resorts of thermal waters located at 6 km (3.7 miles) from the capital, and with temperatures reaching up to 79°C (174°F). The modern facilities and the curative properties of the waters, rank them among the most important bathing resorts of this kind in the continent.
Ventanillas de Otuzco. This great Inca necropolis, located at 8 km (5 miles) from the city, is characterized by the carved crypts in rocky cliffs resembling a huge funeral mosaic. Most are simple niches, but some are multiple, forming corridors with lateral niches.
La Colpa. Beautiful post in the countryside of Cajamarca and site of El Rescate stock farm, well-known for training their cows, who at the call of their name, go to be milked.
Pariamarca. This is a small town of typical peasant atmosphere and known for its textiles and the use of natural dyes of varied colors.
Aylambo Center. A rural development center supported by the Universidad Nacional de Cajamarca. It includes a pottery teaching workshop where modern techniques are combined with the ancestral skills of the local people.
Cumbemayo. An impressive archeological complex at the skirts of El Cumbe mountain. It is considered one of the most outstanding works of hydraulic engineering of pre-Hispanic America.
Combayo Necropolis is a pre-Inca archeological site of great interest. As the Ventanillas de Otuzco, it has beautiful windows carved in rock, but in a better state of conservation and a greater number of them.
Huanbocancha and Porcon. These communities stand out for their artisan workmanship in stone, carved fountains, pots, statues, and small ornaments.
It is said that many dishes that still are considered traditional in Cajamarca come from the time of the Incas, although some of them show the meztizaje in the use of species that were unknown by them. The best known are picante de cuy al estilo de Cajamarca, hen broth, quinua soup, wheat soup, and other soups with potatoes, corn and cornstarch.
Among their drinks, the most preferred are cañazo or sugar cane brandy, and the chicha de jora.
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