- Access Routes
- Historical Overview
• Location: The department of Cajamarca is located in the central north western highlands of Peru.
• Area: 33 317 km2
• Capital: Cajamarca (2 720 masl)
• Altitude: 420 masl (Tembladera) Lowest town. 3 502 masl (Hualgayoc) highest town.
• Average annual temperature: 14º C (21º C maximum and 5º C minimum).
• Rainy season: December to March.
• By land: Lima-Trujillo-Cajamarca (872 km) following the North Pan-American Highway and about 15 h car drive.
• By air: There are daily flights from the city of Lima (about 1 h 10 minutes).
The origin of Cajamarca dates from the pre-Inca period. The valley with the samename was the center of the Caxamarca Culture which reached its highest development between 500 and 1 000 AD. These territories were annexed to the Tahuantinsuyo Empire in 1 465 during Inca Pachacútec’s government. During the Inca Empire, Cajamarca became a very important administrative, military and religious center. Temples and palaces were built and there are still some traces of them, notably the Ransom Room. On November 16th, 1 532, Cajamarca was the scenery of one of the most important episodes of the American history, when a group of Spaniards led by Francisco Pizarro took Inca Atahualpa as prisoner. The city reflects the Spanish influence on its architecture characterized by its square design where, together with religious buildings from the middle of the seventeenth century and early eighteenth century, there are two-story houses with hip curved roof tiles many of which have carved stone porticos. Today, the city of Cajamarca has been listed by the Organization of American States (OAS) as part of the Historic and Cultural Heritage of the Americas and a city that symbolizes Latin American Unity.
Attraction in the city
Jr. Cruz de Piedra s/n, Plaza de Armas. Visits: Monday to Friday 8:00-11:00 and 18:00-21:00. Built in the seventeenth century and part of the eighteenth century, it has an imposing façade, decorated with striking volcanic rock inlay, and an interior of finely detailed sculptures. Inside, its highlights include a remarkable retable in the main altar and a carved wood pulpit covered in gold leaf. The Sagrario Chapel is adjacent to this church.
Church of San Francisco
Jr. Dos de Mayo at Plaza de Armas. Visits: Monday to Friday 9:00-12:00 and 16:00-18:00. Entirely carved in volcanic rock, the first stage was built in the late seventeenth century. It houses a Religious Art Museum, an art gallery and crypts.
Belén Monumental Complex
Jr. Belén block 6. Visits: Monday to Friday 8:30-12:00 and 16:00-18:00; Saturday and Sunday. Comprises a temple built in volcanic rock, dating from the eighteenth century. Former hospitals for men and women dating back to the Colonial eighteenth century period that have been conditioned as museums.
La Recoleta Monumental Complex
Corner of Av. Maestro and Av. Los Héroes. Visits: Monday to Sunday 8:00-12:00 and 16:00-20:00. Comprising the Church and the Former Convent of the Recolección Franciscana. Instead of towers it features elegant belfries. It was built between seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Mirador de Santa Apolonia
Natural lookout which overlooks the valley and the city of Cajamarca. One can reach the summit of this mountain taking a wide stairway. There is a Classic chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Fátima and pre-Inca remains such as a stone altar known as Silla del Inca (the Inca’s Throne). The access stairway to Santa Apolonia Hill is located at Jr. Dos de Mayo, two blocks from the Main Square.
The Ransom Room
Jr. Amalia Puga 750. Visits Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8:30-12:30 and 14:45-1700, Sunday-holidays 9:00-12:00. Located one-half block from the Main Square. It was the room which, according to the chroniclers, Inca Atahualpa offered to fill with gold once and with silver twice to obtain his freedom.
Outskirts of the city
The Inca Baths
Visits: Monday to Sunday 6:00-18:30. Located in the province of Baños del Inca, 6 km east of the city of Cajamarca and about 4 minutes drive. History tells that it was here that the Inca used to take thermal baths.
Cutervo National Park
Located in the province of Cutervo 260 km north of the city of Cajamarca and about 14 h y 30 minutes car drive. Here visitors can watch several varieties of flora (scrublands, dwarf forests and wet montane forests) as well as fauna such as jaguars (panthera onca), tigrillos (leopardus pardalis), spectacled bear, otters, etc).
Cumbemayo Archaeological Complex
Located in the province of San Pablo, 22 km southwest of the city of Cajamarca and about one h drive. This mystic spot of unique natural beauty features a remarkable aqueduct (pre-Inca irrigation channel carved from rock), the sanctuary (a rocky outcrop in the shape of a giant human head and petroglyphs), the frailones (huge stone forest forming fanciful shapes that resemble monks’ silhouettes) and ceremonial altars (located along the aqueduct).
Bosque de Rocas. (The Stone Forest)
Located 180 km from the city of Cajamarca, about 8 h drive, it spreads over a considerable area, noteworthy for its various fanciful shapes, the most known of them being those resembling the silhouette of monks moving on a silent procession.
The Windows of Otuzco
Located in the district of Baños del Inca, 8 km north east of the city of Cajamarca and about 15 minutes drive, featuring important surviving archaeological testimony to the ancient inhabitants of Cajamarca. Most of them are single niches but there are also multiple niches.
Located in the province of San Pablo, 108 km northwest of the city of Cajamarca and about 2 h 45 minutes drive. Archaeological monument on La Copa hill, formed by a ceremonial complex comprising several plazas and platforms supported by huge stone walls.
Cooperativa Atahualpa Jerusalén (Porcón Farm)
Located 30 km north of the city of Cajamarca, about 1 h drive, its landscape has been improved thanks to the afforestation of a number of hectares of forests where wildlife flora and fauna has reappeared. Within the scope of the Interactive Tourism project, PromPerú sponsors the development of certain programs such as:
Agrotourism in Cajamarca:
Porcón Farm, Agrotourism, nature, trekking and cultural exchange. Porcón Farm is one of the few examples of a successful and fully functioning cooperative. The cooperative has decided to open the doors of its farm to tourism, so that the visitor can enjoy its efficient production and the unique lifestyle of its inhabitants, delight in walks across its beautiful fields and forests and participate in the farm’s agriculture, cattle-breeding and forestal activities which may vary according to the season.
Cajamarca´s folkloric expressions are always related to religious celebration and patron saints’ feasts, with dances such as the Cashua, the Chunchos or White Dance, the Pallas, the Pachilla, the feathered or imperial dance and the Devils’ dance.
Cajamarca craftsmen are noted for their woolen, leather, wood, hemp rope, clay and stone works, which evidence the art and creativity of the people who convey our cultural identity in their utilitarian and decorative products.
• Picante de cuy con papa (guinea pig stew with peanut and panca chili sauce served with potatoes).
• Chicharrón con mote (pork cracklings served with separated mature corn or maize kernels).
• Humitas (steamed sweet corn dough stuffed with cinnamon and raisins, wrapped in maize leaves).
• Chupe verde (potato soup with bone broth).
Cajamarca Carnival. (February - March, mobile) Carnival has acquired characteristics which are very typical of Cajamarca comprising traditional expressions and involving the participation of institutions, quarters, etc. The celebration lasts approximately one month, however the central days are just eight. Feast of the Crosses. (March - April) On the central day, Palm Sunday, four different ceremonies take place, the coronation of the crosses, the salutation to the Lord at the house of the mayordomo (the person entrusted with the task of leading the celebrations), the various prayers in Quechua and Latin and, lastly, the procession to the hacienda’s chapel with more than 50 crosses, each weighing approximately 60 kilos.