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This article is about the city of Cajamarca. For other uses, see Cajamarca (disambiguation).
Iglesia Santa Catalina, Cajamarca.jpg
Cajamarca NªSª de la Piedad lou.jpg
Cajamarca aerial.JPG
From top: Cathedral of Cajamarca, Belen Church, partial view of the city
Flag of Cajamarca
Coat of arms of Cajamarca
Coat of arms
Cajamarca is located in Peru
Location in Peru
Coordinates: 07°09′52″S 78°30′38″W / 7.16444°S 78.51056°W / -7.16444; -78.51056
Country Peru
Region Cajamarca Region
Province Cajamarca Province
Founded circa 1450 by the Incas; Spanish settlement in 1532
 • Mayor Ramiro Bardales Vigo
 • Total 392.47 km2 (151.53 sq mi)
Elevation 2,750 m (9,020 ft)
 • Total 283,767
 • Metro density 40.79/km2 (105.6/sq mi)
Time zone PET (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) PET (UTC-5)
Area code(s) 76

Cajamarca (Spanish pronunciation: [kaxaˈmaɾka]) is the capital and largest city of the Cajamarca Region as well as an important cultural and commercial center in the northern Andes. It is located in the northern highlands of Peru at approximately 2,750 m (8,900 ft) above sea level[1] and has an estimated population for 2014 of about 218,775 inhabitants.[2]

Cajamarca has a mild highland climate, and the area has a very fertile soil. The city is well known for its dairy products and mining activity in the surroundings.[3][4]

Among its tourist attractions, Cajamarca has numerous examples of Spanish colonial religious architecture, a beautiful landscape, pre-hispanic archeological sites and a place of hot springs called Baños del Inca (Baths of the Inca). The history of the city is highlighted by the Battle of Cajamarca, which marked the defeat of the Inca Empire by Spanish invaders as the Incan emperor Atahualpa was captured and murdered here.


The area of the city has been occupied by varying cultures for more than 2000 years. Traces of pre-Chavín cultures can be seen in nearby 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. At the time, it was ruled by Tupac's father Pachacuti.

In 1532 Atahualpa had beaten his brother Huáscar in a battle for the Inca throne in Quito (in present-day Ecuador). 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 Requerimiento, demanding him to yield to the Spanish. When Atahualpa refused, Pizarro declared the Inca an enemy of the Church and Spain. The Spanish Conquistadors and their Indian allies captured Atahualpa in the Battle of Cajamarca, where they also massacred several thousand unarmed Inca civilians and soldiers.

Having taken Atahualpa captive, they held him in Cajamarca's main temple. They held off Atahualpa's generals by threatening to kill their king if they did. But the Conquistadors were also trapped, with only a small force. Atahualpa 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 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 the city, but it is more likely his former cell. Atahualpa had misjudged the Conquistadors; after they had the ransom, they executed him anyway.

In 1986 the Organization of American States designated Cajamarca as a site for the Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Americas.



Partial view of Cajamarca from Santa Apolonia Hill


Cajamarca has subtropical highland climate (Cwb, according to the Köppen climate classification).

Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: World Weather Organization


Street in Cajamarca

In November 1532 Pizarro and his men entered the Incan territory of Cajamarca. As more colonists and missionaries arrived, they worked to convert the indigenous people to Christianity. Incas. They first adapted an Inca temple as a Christian church dedicated to St. Francis.

The style of ecclesiastical architecture in the city differs from other Peruvian cities due to the geographic and climatic conditions. Cajamarca is further north with a milder climate; the colonial builders used available stone rather than the clay of desert cities.

Cajamarca has six Christian churches of Spanish colonial style: San Jose, the Franciscan Recoleta, la Immaculada Concepcion, San Antonio, the Cathedral and El Belen. The latter three are the most noted, all built in the seventeenth century. El Belen was consecrated in 1677, the Cathedral in 1682, and San Antonio in 1699. Their sculpted facades and ornamentation are considered remarkable.

The facades of these three churches were left unfinished, most likely due to lack of funds. The façade of the Cathedral is the most elegantly decorated, to the extent that it was completed. El Belen has a completed façade of the main building, but the tower is half finished. The San Antonio church is left most incomplete.[5][6]

Church of Belen[edit]

This church consists of a single nave with no lateral chapels. Its facade is the most complete of the three, as it was the first to be designed and built.[5][6]

Cathedral of Cajamarca[edit]

Originally designated to be a parish church, the cathedral took 80 years to construct (1682–1762); the façade remains unfinished. The Cathedral shows how colonial Spanish influence was introduced in the Incan territory.

Side Portals: The side portals are made of pilasters on corbels. It also bears the royal escutcheon of Spain. The portal is considered to have a seventeenth-century character, found in the rectangular emphasis of the design.

Plan: The plan of the cathedral is based on a basilica plan, (with a single apse, barrel vaults in the nave, a transept and sanctuary), but the traditional dome over the crossing has been omitted.

Façade: The façade is noted for the detailing of its sculptures and the artistry in carving. Decorative details onclude grapevines carved into the spiral columns of the cathedral, with little birds pecking at the grapes. The frieze in the first story is composed of rectangular blocks carved with leaves. The detail of the main portal extends to flower pots and cherubs’ heads next to pomegranates. “The façade of Cajamarca Cathedral is one of the remarkable achievements of Latin American art.”[5][6]

San Antonio[edit]

Construction began in 1699, with the original plans made by Matias Perez Palomino. This church is similar in plan to the Cathedral, but the interiors are quite different. San Antonio is a significantly larger structure and has incorporated the large dome over the crossing. Features of the church include large cruciform piers with Doric pilasters, a plain cornice, and stone carved window frames.

Façade: This façade is the most incomplete. While designed in a style similar to that of the cathedral, it is a simplified version.[5][6]


Cajamarca is surrounded by a fertile valley, which makes this city an important center of trade of agricultural goods. Its most renowned industry is that of dairy products.[3][4] Yanacocha is an active gold mining site 45 km north of Cajamarca, which has boosted the economy of the city since the 1990s.[7][8]


Cajamarca is served by the Armando Revoredo Airport. It is also served by major bus lines, including Transportes Linea and Cruz del Sur.

Construction of a railway has been proposed to connect mines in the region to a Pacific Ocean port.


Cajamarca is home of one of the oldest high schools in the country: San Ramon School, founded in 1831.[9] Some of the largest, most important schools in the city include Marcelino Champagnat School, Cristo Rey School, Santa Teresita School, and Juan XXIII School.

Cajamarca is also a centre of higher education in the northern Peruvian Andes. The city hosts two local universities: Universidad Nacional de Cajamarca (National University of Cajamarca), a public university, while Universidad Antonio Guillermo Urrelo is a private one.[10] Four other universities have branches in Cajamarca: Universidad Antenor Orrego,[11] Universidad San Pedro,[12] Universidad Alas Peruanas,[13] Universidad Los Angeles de Chimbote[14] and Universidad Privada del Norte.[15]


Cajamarca is home to the annual celebration of Carnaval, a time when the city's citizens and Peruvians from all over the north of the country come together to celebrate before the beginning of Lent. Revelers celebrate Carnaval through parades and pageants. The overturning of convention includes people in the processions throwing paint and water on pedestrians.

See also[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • Conquest of the Incas. John Hemming, 1973.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 07°09′52″S 78°30′38″W / 7.16444°S 78.51056°W / -7.16444; -78.51056