Peruvian Cities
Cerro de Pasco, PASCO
Location, extension and population | Brief historic overview | Main attractions of the department of Pasco | Typical dishes and beverages | Tourist calendar

Vista panorámica de la ciudad de Cerro de Pasco.LOCATION, EXTENSION AND POPULATION
The department of Pasco is located in the central part of the country. Its territory comprises parts of the Sierra (ridge of the Andes mountains) and parts of the Ceja de Selva (High Jungle or mountain rim). Pasco limits to the north with Huánuco, to the south with Junín, to the east with Ucayali, and to the west with Lima. It is located at 4,355 m.a.s.l. (14,288 ft). The weather is cold, the highest temperature being 20ºC (68º F), the lowest, 8ºC (46º F). It has an extension of 21,854 km² (8,438 sq ml), and a population of over 600,000 people.

The capital of Pasco is Cerro de Pasco, which extends over the sloping Ulianchin mountain and sits at the skirts of the Patarcocha lagoon. Other important cities in Pasco include, Oxapampa, Villa Rica, Yanahuanca, Chaupimarca and Huayllay.


The first settlers of the region known today as Pasco, were members of the Huanca culture who extended their domains throughout the central Sierra. In constant war with other cultures, such as the Chancas, they built small fortifications to defend themselves.

With their submission to the Inca empire, this region became part of the Chinchaysuyo (one of the four regions in which the empire was divided), which served as refuge for travelers heading for other regions.

During colonial times, the Spanish discovered the fabulous mineral resources in Pasco. Native oral tradition tells that way back, in the year 1630, Santiago Hauricapcha, a shepherd, discovered these mine beds while having to take shelter from a storm. He improvised a bonfire to prepare his meal and, after a while, discovered that threads of gold were running down from the heated stones of his bonfire. Uninformed, loyal and serving, the peasant communicated his findings to his employers who, since those times, took hold of the most wonderful silver, zinc, lead, and copper mines in this part of the continent.

During the Republic, Daniel Alcides Carrión, one of the most outstanding doctors of medicine in Pasco, set a great example of professionalism and courage in trying to help others. He inoculated himself with the wart virus to study the effects and possible antidotes, but died in the effort.


Huayllay Stone Forest
. Located at 4,335 m.a.s.l. (14,222 ft), this fossilized forest has an extension of 60 km² (23 sq ml). This natural beauty, declared National Park in 1939, is a swarm of multiform rocks molded by nature in a dazzling fashion. These rocks depict a variety of figures, such as, elephants, human faces, beasts, towers, sphinxes, dinosaurs, warriors, among many others.

Patarcocha Lagoon. It is located in the outskirts of the city. The beautiful scenery consists of nevados or snow-covered mountains, flora, fauna, and an ideal fishing spot.

The Temple of San Miguel de Chaupimarca. Founded in March of 1827, this temple keeps valuable images of colonial times.

Oxapampa. A farming province located in the Ceja de Selva (High Jungle), well-known for its German settlers.

Pozuzo. This village of European origin is located in the Oxapampa province. The local people keep the ways of their ancestors.

Villa Rica. A location of the Oxapampa province in the Jungle region of Pasco, it is known for its coffee plantations.

Yanahuanca is the capital of the province of Daniel A. Carrión. The Gollarisquiza mineral bed is found in this area. Potatoes, oca and barley are grown in abundance, as well as sheep stock farms.

Valles del Palcazu, Anacayali, Neguachi y Pichis. Valleys noted for their farming production, mainly fruit trees, and their stock farms.

Valle de Huancabamba. A valley famous for its production of aguano, cedar, oak, tornillo, ulcumano and alfaro lumber.


Pasco bases its cuisine on a great variety of broths, soups, lamb and beef stews. Typical dishes, such as the broth of lamb head, the patazca or mote (stewed corn) soup, and the oca, bean, potato and chupes (chowders), come from this part of the country.

Like in other regions of the Sierra the specialty, however, is the pachamanca (barbecue). The diversity of meats (beef, lamb, pork) added makes it a dish with a variety of flavors.

The aguardiente is by far the preferred drink because, as they say, it helps to keep the body warm.


July 27 through 30.
The Pozuzo Tourist Week. This town commemorates the arrival of the 300 settlers of European origin, who came mainly from the Tyrol and Prussia. Festivals are held the 27 and 28 (coinciding with the Peruvian Independence Day), where parades and the traditional dances and ribbon tournaments take place.

August 25 through 31. The Oxapampa Tourist Week. During this week the local people honor their patron saint, Santa Rosa de Lima, for whom they have built a beautiful chapel all made of local wood. During these six days, trading fairs, parties, sport championships and other contests are held.

October 8 through 14. Villa Rica Tourist Week. A fair of regional farm products and livestock takes place during this week. During the ribbon tournaments, a blend of European traditions, mainly from the Tyrol, young horsemen will try to string loops, placed in high blockheads by the local young girls.

November 27. Anniversary of Cerro de Pasco. Week-long celebrations, including farm and livestock fairs, parades, dances and other activities.

December 7 through 10. The religious festivity of the Immaculate Conception takes place in Paucartambo during these days. Masses and novenas are held, and traditional dances are performed by local bands. The leading event is the procession in honor of the Immaculate Conception. Later, the local people offer their best typical dishes to all those present in the ceremony.

December 31. New Year's Eve. The people of Pasco celebrate this day dancing to the rhythm of the music of their local bands, and drinking abundant beer and aguardiente. The traditional Baile de los Negritos (dancers disguised as black men) is performed by dancing groups swinging along the streets. They stop to visit the homes where Nativity scenes have been arranged, and are received with something to drink and eat.