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Why Should I visit Cajamarca in Peru?

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 06-03-2023


Located at an altitude of 2,720 m and with a very pleasant climate, Cajamarca is the place where the Inca and Spanish cultures came together. Cajamarca has one of the most important colonial architectural patrimonies of Peru. In 1986,  UNESCO named Cajamarca a site of historical and cultural heritage of the Americas. The Cajamarca region is located inland in northern Peru. It is neighbors to the west with the coastal regions of Piura, Lambayeque, and Libertad. To the east are the regions of Amazonas and San Martín. Cajamarca extends north to the Ecuadorian border. Enjoying a privileged climate, it is the most wooded mountainous region, as well as the first region producing cattle and dairy products in Peru. The tourism sector generates important resources for the region. This adds to the resources of agriculture and the mining industry. With the Yanacancha mine, Cajamarca has the largest gold mine in South America.


Found in the northern highlands of Peru, Cajamarca stands as the historical capital of the north of Peru. Steeped in ancient Inca and pre-Inca history, this delightful city boasts a rich abundance of colonial architecture, archaeological sites, and traditional markets to explore when you travel to Cajamarca.



The history of Cajamarca

It was in Cajamarca that the meeting between Inca Atahualpa and the Spaniards of Francisco Pizarro took place in November 1532. A meeting that would change history. This organized meeting will mark the beginning of the end of the Inca Empire and the advent of Spanish rule over a large part of the South American continent.

The 180 Spanish trapped the Inca and his army of 40,000 men! An incredible feat that led to the massacre of the Incas. Who would have foreseen that the Inca would throw the Bible to the ground saying that he did not fear the word of God? Pizarro and his men demand from the Incas the payment of a ransom. In fact, near the Plaza de Armas, one of the largest in Peru, is the famous “rescue” room. The Inca Atahualpa had to fill this room with gold and silver to pay his ransom, the most expensive in history. The Spanish condemned the powerful sovereign to death. The rescue room is the only vestige of the Inca culture in Cajamarca. The room is sacred, so you cannot enter and there is blood on the stone where Atahualpa was executed.


Cajamarca's historical significance is profound, as it was here that the mighty Inca Empire met its fateful encounter with Spanish conquistadors in 1532, forging is place in Latin American history.  The Rescue Room is part of the complex where Atahualpa met with Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1532, and ultimately where he breathed his last breath. Visit the rescue room on Cajamarca tours.

The Rescue Room


What to do in the Cajamarca region and town?


The Cathedral

The cathedral is a good example of the Peruvian Baroque, also called the Mother Church of Santa Catalina. Its construction took 80 years and its facade was not completed.


On a Cajamarca city tour one of the highlights is a visit to the city´s cathedral. The Cajamarca Cathedral, officially known as the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, is flanked by two bell towers, which are a prominent feature of Cajamarca's skyline.

The Cajamarca Cathedral


The San Francisco Church

The San Francisco Church was built in the seventeenth century. The church has catacombs in which the Franciscan friars were buried together with members of the nobility.


The San Francisco Church was founded in the early 17th century by Franciscan friars, making it one of the oldest churches in Cajamarca. The church played a significant role in the spread of Christianity in the region during the Spanish colonial era. The church played a significant role in the spread of Christianity in the region during the Spanish colonial era.isit The San Francisco church on Cajamarca tours.

San Francisco Church


The monuments of Belén 

The monuments of Belén include a church and two hospitals. The hospitals for men and women illustrate what the public hospital could be at that time. This is reminiscent of the “Hôtels-Dieu” in France. Now they are used as exhibition sites.


The Belen Church was founded in the 17th century by Spanish missionaries, making it one of the oldest churches in Cajamarca. The church is known for its ornamental altars and religious paintings that reflect the artistic craftsmanship of colonial times.  Visit the Belen church on Cajamarca Peru tours.

Belen Church


La Recoleta, church and convent 


The Recoleta Church is located near the Plaza de Armas in Cajamarca. This makes it easy to visit on a Cajmarca city tour. The church is open to visitors, who can admire the internal architecture and learn about its place in Peru´s history.

Recoleta Church


The Inca Chair


To have the most beautiful panorama of the city and the whole valley, there is nothing better than the Santa Apolonia hill. Previously called Rumi Tiana, which means “stone seat” in Quechua, there are some vestiges of prehispanic buildings and the so-called “Inca chair“, which is formed as an ancient throne carved into the rock.


Santa Apolonia hill


Visit The Inca Baths


Just outside the city are the Inca baths. These thermal waters above 72°C contain minerals with therapeutic properties for the treatment of bone and nervous system diseases. There are, among others, private pools and public pools. The Legend says that the Inca Atahualpa rested there shortly before his confrontation with Pizarro.



Cumbemayo an area believed to be dated back to 1500 B.C., and is one of the oldest man-made constructions in all of South America. The most impressive structure at this site is the aqueduct that runs 8 kilometers (5 miles), bringing water from the hills to the city of Cajamarca.




The Otuzco Windows


The Otuzco archaeological site is found just north of Cajamarca. Made of volcanic rock, the area served its purpose as a place to bury the dead of both the Inca and Spanish civilizations


Otuzco Windows


Visit Cajamarca on your vacation to Peru! book here!