Peruvian Cities
Cajamarca, CAJAMARCA
Location, extension and population | Brief historic outline | Main attractions of the capital | Main attractions of the department of Cajamarca | Typical dishes and beverages | Tourist calendar

Vista panorámica de Cajamarca.LOCATION, EXTENSION AND POPULATION
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.


Pileta de la Plaza de armas construída con dos piezas de piedra.BRIEF HISTORIC OUTLINE
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 Perú.

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.

La Catedral de Cajamarca.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. Cajamarca.
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 Porcón. 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.


February 22 through March 1.
Carnivals. Cajamarca is known as the capital of the Peruvian carnivals. The people celebrate them with special dedication, start to prepare their costumes months ahead. Each quarter chooses their candidate as the Carnival Queen, who presides the floats, parades, and other activities. There are masquerades, group of parades, dances and other endless activities. The whole town participates in the daily game of throwing balloons filled with water against each other.

Holy Week. There are several forms in which this dates is remembered. The most particular celebration takes place on Palm Sunday in Porcón, where the local people create enormous banners with mirrors, palms and flowers that sometimes reach up to 3 mt (9.8 ft.). The image of Señor de Ramos goes in procession along the streets riding on a white donkey. This week is also remembered with great religious fervor in Contumazá, Cajabamba, and Hualgayoc.

May 15. Fiesta de San Isidro Labrador. In honor of their patron, the peasants of Ichocán decorate their yoke as well as their house porches with home-grown fruits. The image is carried on the shoulders of the faithful in procession. Later on, they dance and join the fair for the trade of products.

June 24. Fiesta de San Juan. Celebrated in Chota, Cutervo, and San Pablo, with religious activities, bullfights and commercial fairs.

July 16. Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen de Celendín. The town gets together to thank their patron for the favors received. Activities begin two weeks in advance with different celebrations in each quarter, such as, farm and livestock fairs and bullfights. In Bambamarca, celebrations are quite similar.

July 31. Fiesta de San Ignacio de Loyola. The capital of the province that bears the name of the saint also celebrates this day with several religious, social and recreational activities.

September 7. Anniversary of Huanchaco. Celebration in the district of Baños del Inca in commemoration of its political creation.

First Sunday in October. Virgen del Rosario. In Cajabamba, the celebration lasts eight days, with bullfights, a farm, livestock, and handicrafts fair, and a folk dance competition.

December 24. The birth of Christ is celebrated in the entire department with music and dancing in which every exiting folk dance group takes part. In the capital, there are competitions of pallas and villancicos or Christmas carols.