Cajamarca is known for its large and colorful carnival celebrations that attract huge crowds from all over the country and the world. However this small charming city is also an interesting place outside of the carnival season. For starters the city is filled with colonial architecture and surrounded by breathtaking mountains. Moreover it holds a highly important place in the history of the Spanish conquest of South America and Peru, as the city for the setting of the famous encounter between Francisco Pizarro and the last Inca leader Atahualpa.
One of the famous sites involved in this encounter was the “Cuarto de Rescate” or “Ransom Room” where Pizarro promised Atahualpa his freedom if he filled the room up with gold and silver. Even though Atahualpa held up his end and filled the room with his riches, Pizarro did not. Instead he executed the last Inca emperor in the main square of Cajamarca, the start of the decline of the Inca Empire and the beginning of the Spanish colonial conquest.
The beautiful colonial constructions of Cajamarca such as the city’s many lovely mansions, intact colonial Baroque churches and interesting city museums serve as an amazing tourist attraction. However, Cajamarca also serves as a passage way that allows tourists to visit the famous Baños del Inca (Inca Baths) where they can emerge themselves into the relaxing 72° centigrade hot waters. The Baths are believed to date back to pre-Incan times and the waters are said to have curative properties. All of these sites combined have earned Cajamarca the declaration as an American Heritage Site by UNESCO.
However, the region’s attractions do not limit itself to these sites alone because the region possesses more notable archeological complexes such as The Cumbemayo Archeological Complex which is believed to have been constructed around 1200 AD by the Caxamarca-Marañòn culture. Located 22 kilometers south of the city of Cajamarca, this complex consists of many megalithic constructions such as altars and aqueducts which take up more than 25,000 square meters of land. Also located in the regions beautiful countryside is the Ventanillas (Windows of Otuzco) which were carved out of the rocky surface of a mountain in order to create burial caves of circular and square shapes, making them look like windows. Unfortunately, due to grave robbers, archaeologists have been unable to determine the exact age of the windows but they are believed to be associated with the Caxamarca Culture. Last but not least there is the House of the Condor (Kuntur Wasi) and its protected areas including the country’s oldest park, Parque Nacional de Cutervo National Park. Kuntur Wasi is a ceremonial complex consisting of several squares and platforms that are upheld by massive stone walls.
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