It was in this beautiful northern Andean town that the Spaniards began their inexorable conquest of the Inca Empire in 1532, when they captured and held for ransom Inca Atahualpa.
In exchange for his life, Atahualpa offered his kidnappers “a room filled with gold as high as their arms could reach.” Six tons of the precious metal was delivered, but fearing reprisals the Spaniards murdered their hostage anyway.
Today, Cajamarca’s serenity belies that violent history.
Atahualpa’s “ransom chamber” remains as the last vestige of Inca architecture. An Andean-Baroque style Cathedral and the churches of San Francisco, Belén and La Recoleta front the graceful Plaza de Armas.
At the center of the square is an ornate fountain built in 1692 to commemorate the bicentennial of Columbus’ landing in the Americas.
Beyond Cajamarca lies a luxuriant expanse of rolling hills and green valleys. The fertile setting is home to several rural highlights, including La Colpa, a cattle ranch and manor house where the cows are trained to enter their stalls when their individual names are called.
Archaeological remains in the area date back to the Caxamarca culture (circa 1450 A.D.), with aqueducts and enigmatic cave paintings going back even further.
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