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Cajamarca Peru


Peru, Cajamarca church

Cajamarca is located in northern Peru, capital of Cajamarca Department and Province. 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.

The valley of Cajamarca was one of the largest cities in the Inca Empire. It played a crucial role in the Spanish conquest of the Incas. Site of the fateful encounter in 1532 between Francisco Pizarro and King Atahualpa.

The city has withstood the sands of time. Its largely indigenous rural people still work the land as they have for centuries. Farmers practice intensive rain-fed agriculture on steep mountain slopes, growing wheat and maize at lower elevations, but potatoes, beans, and cereals such as barley and quinua at higher elevations. Dairy farming is common on the irrigated valley floors, but cows as well as sheep also graze in the high mountain pastures.

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.

Cajamarca's impressive plaza contains a beautiful fountain and sculpted cypress trees. The city's many ornate churches and cathedrals with their intricately carved facades and gilded interiors are well appreciated by visitors. Notable religious monuments include the Belín complex, San Francisco, La Recolecta, and the Cathedral.

The climb up to the Santa Apolonia chapel and the Inca Chair (La Silla del Inca) overlooking the tiled roofs of the city and its green valleys is also well worth the effort. Two interesting museums are the Museo de Etnografía and the Museo Arqueologico.

As a testimony of the Incan times you find "The Rescue Chamber”,  the only exponent of Incan architecture in the middle of all the colonial richness.  Of neoclassic style history tells us that the Inca Atahualpa ordered to fill the chamber with objects of gold and silver in order to give it to the conquistadors in exchange for his liberty.  Finally, Pizarro never complied with his offer.

Another attraction resides in Cumbemayo, a gigantic pre-Incan archeological complex that pertains to the Cajamarca-Marañón culture. Which comprises three monumental groups: The Aqueduct a hydraulic system that transports and canalizes water; the Sanctuary a steep rocky peak that is 20 meters high and forms a human head. The caves where you can see the Chavin style petroglyphs and the Frailones, geological formations.

Carnival

Peru, Cajamarca carnival

The yearly carnivals and other religious festivals of each of the towns that surround the capital of this department are still further proof of the great and varied riches of Cajamarca, which can of course only be wholly known and appreciated through its people.

During the festivities, the dress and the music, the beautiful ornamentation of the religious images, the markets and fairs, and the sight of friends and families gathering together all combine to create a truly beautiful spectacle, one in which visitors can be far more than simple spectators if they will accept the region's open invitation to participate.

The entire celebration has an approximate duration of a month, but the central and main events do occur during an eight day interval.

 

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