extension and population
historic overview |
Main attractions of the capital |
Main attractions of the department of Huancavelica
Typical dishes and beverages |
EXTENSION AND POPULATION
The department of Huancavelica is in the midst of the south
central Sierra region of the country. It presents a rough
topography that places the department between highlands and
snow-capped mountain peaks, surrounded by deserted punas,
solitary but lovely lagoons. The immense natural wealth within
its mountains makes it a very important mining region. It
limits with Lima, Ica, Junín and Ayacucho.
Huancavelica has an extension
of 21,079 km² (8,139 sq ml) and a population of almost
The capital is the city
of Huancavelica. Other important cities are, Catrovirreyna,
Tayacaja, Acobamba and Angaraes. Due to its location, the
climate is dry but with low temperatures, with an annual average
that varies from 5° to 8°C (41° to 46° F).
The region where Huancavelica
is located today was first controlled by the Huancas.
During the Inca empire, both Huancas and Chancas
fought for this territory. According to chronicler Garcilazo
de la Vega, this region was divided into three parts, Jauja,
Marcavilca and Llacsapallanca. Later on, the latter was called
Huancavelica by the Spanish conquerors.
Unlike other Peruvian regions
and cities in which the Spanish left traces of their influence,
Huancavelica was only a crossing route in the conquest of
the empire. Hence, it did not profit from the benefits given
to other cities.
When in Viceroyal times the mercury
mines of Santa Bárbara were discovered, the destiny
of Huancavelica changed dramatically. Santa Bárbara
became one of the most important mining centers of its time.
Such was its fame, that Viceroy Teodoro La Croix labeled it
the greatest marvel in the world. Yet, its splendor
started to decline around the seventeenth century, when several
landslides occurred. Unfortunately, the difficult production
conditions forced to paralyze the works in this mining bed.
The people of Huancavelica embraced
with patriotic fervor the cause of liberty. With courage and
determination, they rebelled in arms against the Spanish authorities,
and supported the revolution led by Mateo Pumacahua.
At the time when the Peruvian
Constitution was signed, Huancavelica was still part of the
Intendance of Huamanga (Ayacucho). When General San Martín
ruled the elections of the members of parliament, it was then
named department, on April 26, 1822. Years later, however,
Huancavelica lost its rank as department for having a small
population. On November 5, 1839, during the second administration
of President Gamarra, it finally recovered the rank of department
and was named, Illustrious City.
ATTRACTIONS OF THE CAPITAL
San Cristóbal Thermal Baths.
These thermal baths are one of the main attractions of
the city, because they are near, the facilities are comfortable,
and their healing properties are very famous. Many people
arrive to treat their ailments, specially people with skin
and joint problems.
Plaza de Armas or Main
Square. It keeps the traditional Colonial structure of
the main square in other cities, with a Cathedral, a Town
Hall, a Prefecture and Justice Palace.
The Cathedral. Two white
towers and a doorway carved in red stone form a composition
of singular beauty. The construction started in 1673 and ended
in 1733. The main altar runs from wall to wall, and the pulpit
is an example of a singular mastery in wood carving.
de San Sebastián. This church is located in the
same plaza where the Temple of San Francisco is. It has beautiful
altars carved in fine wood and coated in gold leaf. One of
these altars holds the image of the Niño de
Lachoc (Christ Child) that, is said, appeared in some
meadow and helped Major General Cáceres in a battle
against the Chileans in the War of the Pacific.
Iglesia de Santa Ana.
Some say the construction started in 1590, although the real
date is unknown. This church houses Colonial Baroque style
jewels, shown in the altars with a unique coloring and combination
of flower themes.
Iglesia de San Francisco.
Constructed in 1774, this church has a main altar and a small
and big altarpiece remarkably carved in wood. They form one
of the most beautiful compositions in religious art.
Other churches to visit
include, Santo Domingo, San Cristóbal, La Ascensión
and La Dolorosa. These last two churches are known for being
the traditional sites for the celebration of the Fiesta
de la Cruz. Also, their images are taken out in procession
during Holy Week.
Arc of Triumph. A city
doorway where Major General Andrés Avelino Cáceres
appeared with his army, after brilliantly fighting and winning
the Breña Campaign.
ATTRACTIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HUANCAVELICA
a province known by its mining fields and beautiful landscapes,
is located at 3,798 m.a.s.l. (12,460 ft). It is a bleak plateau
in the middle of a rough topography.
Chonta. This is a region
of beautiful nevados or snow-covered mountains, which
offer a spectacular view.
Laguna de Choclococha.
Located at 4,605 m.a.s.l. (15,108 ft), this lagoon has a surface
of 15 km² (6 sq ml) and a depth of 14 mt (5.4 ft). It
offers visitors the unique sight of the nevados reflecting
on the blue waters.
Laguna de Orcococha is
located at 4,710 m.a.s.l. (14,452 ft). Even if it is smaller
than Choclococha, it is also very charming and an ideal fishing
and hunting spot.
Stone Forest in Sachapite.
This unique rocky formation molded with fossilized volcanic
mud and ash, holds an enormous complex of stones. Some stones
look like pillars, others like watchtowers. Viewed as a whole,
this rocky formation has a very capricious appearance.
These ruins keep a certain similarity with Machu Picchu. In
total, there are 1,200 vestiges grouped in twenty zones different
in technique and in time. The ruins show polished ashlar stones,
fine trapezoidal wall openings and vaulted niches.
Other archeological vestiges
include, Huayllay Grande, Izuchaca, Acoria, Lircay, Huanca-Huanca,
Congalla, Caja, Acobamba and Andabamba, some of them visibly
linked to the Chavín culture.
DISHES AND BEVERAGES
Some say that the Huancavelinos
eat abundantly and very good food. They make good use of the
fruits of their land and the meat of their cattle. They are
mostly known for two dishes that are very popular today, pachamanca
(barbecue) and mondongo (tripe). The former is cooked
on special occasions, such as baptisms, matrimonies and folkloric
feasts. It is prepared with sheep, goat, kid, pork, guinea-pig,
and beef, accompanied by corn, potatoes, cheese, lima bean,
quesillos and humitas. The mondongo, cooked
the day before, includes white corn or mote, beef,
sheep, bacon, charqui or dry meat, and the feet, head
and belly of the sheep.
Due to the low temperatures,
aguardiente de caña (sugar cane) or cañazo
January 6. The
Adoration of the Magi. This is a very popular festivity
in Huancavelica. The adoration scene is played all over the
city capital. Different actors represent the scene while walking
to the atrium of the Cathedral. Later, the majordomo
is in charge of entertaining and feeding all those who participated
in the ceremony.
January 15. Fiesta
del Niño Perdido. Each year, a different
person, known as the majordomo, hosts the celebration.
He or she is responsible for hiring the band that will perform
in honor of the Christ Child. The traditional dance of the
negritos (dancers disguised as black men) takes place
along the streets of the city. These dancers compete to see
who does it better, until they get to the Plaza de Santo Domingo.
February 2. Fiesta
de la Virgen de la Candelaria, celebrated in the district
Holy Week. The city as
a whole keeps penitence and lives intensely the drama of the
Calvary. The processions of the Señor del Desprendimiento,
Señor de la Columna, Jesús Nazareno,
and Virgen de los Dolores are reason for a special
display of devotion. In Lircay, there is a Palm Sunday
Fair. On Easter Sunday, people gather in the capital
city to see the products of stock breeders and merchants.
Month of May. Fiesta
de las Cruces. Huancavelica set asides the month of May
to pay tribute to the sacred symbol of the Cross found in
the different hills in the area. The biggest cross in the
region is the Cruz de Potocchi, 8 mt ( 26 ft) high.
Among the others are, Santa Cruz, Cruz del Espíritu,
Cruz de Oropesa, Cruz de San Antonio, Cruz Balcón Pata,
Cruz Pata, Cruz de Puyhuan and Cruz Soltero. The ceremonies
are presided by mayoralas (female mayorals).
June 24. Fiesta de
San Juan Bautista de Huaytará.
July 16. Fiesta de
la Virgen del Carmen, celebrated in Angaraes, Acobamba
July 24. Fiesta de
Santiago, in which the local people go out on the streets
and dance huaynos and pasacalles to the rhythm
of the tinya (small drum) and horns. The dancing groups
formed along the way are entertained with hot drinks and luscious
portions of mondongo, offered by the people living
in the houses they pass through.
August 4. Anniversary
of Huancavelica. The commemoration of the Spanish founding
of city, which is celebrated with an evening party and, specially,
with fireworks. Later, parades and social parties take place
in the different quarters.
September 14. Acobamba
September 15. Fiesta
del Señor Crucificado, celebrated in Huayllay.
December 25. Fiesta
del Niño de Lachoc. It is said that it was seen
in some meadow playing with a negrito (little black
boy), the son of a peasant.