Cajamarca is located in the northern highlands of Peru, and is the capital of the Cajamarca region. It is approximately 2,700 m above sea level and has a population of about 135,000 people. Cajamarca has an equatorial climate so it is mild, dry and sunny, which creates very fertile soil. The city is well-known for its cheeses and dairy products. Cajamarca is also known for its churches, and hot springs, or Inca Baths. There are also several active mining sites in surrounding areas. Most of all, Peruvians remember Cajamarca as the place where the Inca Empire came to an end; the Battle of Cajamarca and the capture and execution of the Incan emperor Atahualpa took place here.
The origin of the city goes back over 3,000 years. Traces of pre-Chavin cultures can be seen in surrounding archaeological sites such as Cumbe Mayo and Kuntur Wasi. During the period between 1463 and 1471, Tupac Inca conquered the area and brought Cajamarca into the Tawantinsuyu, or Inca Empire, which at the time was still being ruled by Tupac's father Pachacuti.
Cajamarca's place in history is secured by the tragedy of 1532. Atahualpa had beaten his brother Huascar in a battle for the Inca throne in Quito. On his way to Cusco to claim the throne with his army of 80,000 soldiers, he stopped at Cajamarca. Francisco Pizarro and his 168 soldiers met Atahualpa here after weeks of marching from Piura. Fernando de Soto and friar Vicente de Valverde delivered the "Requirement". Atahualpa refused, effectively giving Pizarro the excuse to declare the Inca an enemy of the Church and Spain. Audaciously, the Spanish Conquistadors captured Atahualpa in the Battle of Cajamarca, massacring several thousand unarmed Inca civilians and soldiers.
Once the Spanish had Atahualpa, they held him captive in Cajamarca's main temple. They were able to convince Atahualpa's generals not to attack by threatening to kill their king if they did. But the Conquistadors were also trapped, with only a small force. Atahualpa at first did not fully understand the intentions of the Spanish conquistadors, yet he offered them a ransom for his freedom. The Inca emperor offered Pizarro a room filled with gold and twice over with silver, within two months. The Spanish were pleased by this offer, but never intended to release Atahualpa.
This room became known as El Cuarto del Rescate, or "The Ransom Room". Tourists to Cajamarca can see a room by this name in Cajamarca, but most likely the room was Atahualpa's cell, not his ransom room. In the end Atahualpa had misjudged the Conquistadors; after they had the ransom they murdered him.
In 1986 the Organization of American States declared Cajamarca a Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Americas.
Cajamarca is served by the My. Gral. FAP. Armando Revoredo Iglesias Airport.
- Conquest of the Incas. John Hemming, 1973.
Spanish conquest of Peru
History of Peru
Cajamarca information, photos and travel
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