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Gold in Peru - A Complex Relationship Through Time

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 05-10-2023

Peru, a land of rich cultural heritage and stunning natural beauty, has a long and complex history with gold. From ancient civilizations like the Inca Empire to the Spanish conquest and the modern mining industry, the allure of this precious metal has left an indelible mark on the country. Here, we will delve into Peru's intricate relationship with gold and explore opportunities for travelers to discover this history through visits to gold museums and related attractions on your trip to Peru.


Join us on a Peru culture trip to explore the unique cultural heritage of Peru. Discover the rich history of Peru's gold, from its high status among pre-Columbian cultures to the glittering treasures that dazzled Spanish conquistadors. Immerse yourself in Peru culture travel where echoes of the past resonate in modern traditions, art, and architecture.

Golden Inca Mask


Ancient Treasures - The Inca Empire and Gold

Peru's fascination with gold dates back to the Inca Empire, which flourished from the early 15th century until the Spanish conquest in the 16th century. The Incas revered gold as a symbol of the sun god, Inti, and it played a central role in their religious ceremonies and artwork. While the conquistadors looted vast amounts of Inca gold, some treasures remain, offering travelers a glimpse into this fascinating era.

*Travel Tip

 Explore Cusco and visit the Coricancha, also known as the Temple of the Sun, where you can see remnants of Inca goldwork. Additionally, consider a visit to the nearby city of Cajamarca, known for its "Ransom Room," where the Inca emperor Atahualpa offered gold to secure his release from the Spanish conquistadors.


The Coricancha in Cusco is visited on this Peru itinerary 7 days. It is dedicated to Inti, the sun god. Explore the history of the Coricancha and its intricate relationship with gold, and it´s once exquisite gold-plated walls.

The Coricancha, Cusco


The Spanish Conquest: The Pillaging of Peru's Gold

The arrival of Spanish conquistadors in the early 16th century marked a dark chapter in Peru's history. The quest for gold and their religious quest to spread Christianity led to the ruthless exploitation of indigenous communities and the looting of precious metals. Museums in Peru, such as the Gold Museum in Lima, vividly depict this period of history with artifacts, artwork, and displays that showcase the brutality and greed of the Spanish conquerors.

*Travel Tip

Plan a visit to Lima's Gold Museum to see an impressive collection of gold artifacts, jewelry, and pre-Columbian treasures. The museum offers guided tours in multiple languages, providing insight into Peru's colonial past.


The Gold Museum and Larco Museum offer a glimpse into Peru's golden history. Discover the Gold Museum's dazzling collection, showcasing intricate gold artifacts. The Larco Museum is home to a renowned collection of pre-Columbian art, including exquisite gold and silver pieces that highlight the significance of gold in ancient Peruvian culture.

Gold and Turquoise Tumi


Modern Gold Mining: A Blessing and a Curse

In the present day, Peru remains one of the world's top gold producers, with a booming mining industry. Gold mining has brought economic prosperity but also environmental challenges and social issues. Travelers interested in the contemporary aspects of Peru's gold industry can explore regions like Madre de Dios, known for its gold mining activities.

*Travel Tip

Take an eco-friendly tour in Madre de Dios to witness the effects of modern gold mining and learn about sustainable alternatives. Consider visiting Tambopata National Reserve to appreciate the lush rainforest and diverse wildlife.


The issue of illegal gold mining in the Amazon is where gold mining clashes with environmental and social concerns. Explore how illegal miners, exploit the rich biodiversity, leading to deforestation, pollution, and social conflict. Learn why eco-lodges are the way forward for sustainable tourism on Iquitos tours.

Illegal Gold Mining in The Amazon


Exploring Peru's Gold Museums

While traveling through Peru, make sure to include visits to some of the country's exceptional gold museums. These institutions offer valuable insights into Peru's complex relationship with gold.

Gold Museum, Lima

Located in the capital city, this museum houses an extensive collection of pre-Columbian gold artifacts, jewelry, and ceramics. It's an excellent starting point to understand Peru's history with gold.

National Gold Museum, Trujillo

Situated in northern Peru, this museum showcases the goldsmithing techniques of ancient Peruvian civilizations and their connection to gold.

Museo Oro del Perú, Piura

Explore the gold mining history of northern Peru at this museum, which also offers interactive exhibits and educational programs.

Pre-Columbine Art Museum, Cusco (MAP)

The Museum of Pre-Columbian Art – MAP Cusco is a unique experience that transports the visitor 3000 years to the past to learn about the mythical creative spirit of the women and men who gave rise to the Inca Empire. Their Gold Exhibition shows symbols of the Andean cosmovision. Complementary duality was the social, political, and administrative organizing principle of the Inca Empire, meaning the worlds above and below, man and woman, gold and silver, day and night... the yin and Yang of Peru! This led the Incas to use the natural elements around them, including gold, to create masterpieces of artwork, jewelry, and effigies from gold. The Map Museum has some incredible ancient exhibits in the Gold Room, to see on your visit to Cusco.


On your one week in Peru classic tour, explore the Map museum's exceptional gold collection. See the cultural and historical significance of gold in Peru, from its ancient roots to modern interpretations at this Cucso museum.

Gold Collar, MAP Museum, Cusco


Peru's relationship with gold is a multifaceted journey through time, from its sacred role in Inca civilization to the exploitation of the Spanish conquest and the modern challenges of mining. By exploring museums and historical sites, travelers can gain a deeper understanding of Peru's rich and complex history with this precious metal while enjoying the country's breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture. So, whether you're an adventurer or a history enthusiast, Peru's gold-themed travel experiences offer something truly unique. Learn more about Peru´s relationship with gold here!


Visit Casa Aliaga on your Lima city tour. This stunning colonial mansion is a living testament to Peru's rich history and its intricate relationship with gold. Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of Francisco Pizarro's captains, received the land and many gold mines, as a gift from Pizarro himself.

Peruvian Necklace