Cajamarca is a city located in the northern highlands of Peru with a population of approximately 139,000 people. It is also the capital of the Cajamarca region and lies 8,900 feet above sea level. Today, it is home to two universities, one of which promotes bilingual education and it is well known for it’s churches and Inca baths.
Because of it’s history, the city of Cajamarca is usually associated with tragedy. In 1532, Atahualpa , an Incan emperor, beat his brother in a battle for the Incan throne. After stopping in Cajamarca and ultimately being declared an enemy of Spain and the churches of Spain, Atahualpa was help captive by the Spanish. He offered them a ransom for his freedom. The ransom was a room full of gold and filled with twice as much silver.
The room became known as The Ransom Room, which is the most visited site in the city of Cajamarca. In fact, the room was more like Atahualpa’s dungeon, since the ransom was not the ultimate desire of the Spaniards. Atahualpa misjudged the Conquistadors and their intentions towards him and the Incan Empire. In spite of the fact that they received the ransom he had brought to them by his followers from all over Peru, they murdered Atahualpa.
As is true in most of the cities and pueblos of Peru, the people are connected to their history with all its glory and its tragedies, and a visit to these places is a life-enriching experiencing. As you plan your visit, keep in mind that there is more here than museums and churches. We stayed in what appeared to be a country hotel with grass fields that the children romped about it; in fact, we also enjoyed lovely massages after our return from the city, and an evening out that included acoustic guitar playing by candlelight. The following day we drove up the road several miles north of the city to Granja Porcón, a dairy farm where travelers can take part in farming chores. The farm is famous for its herd of cows which are still called by name at milking time. Our daughters who were still in elementary school were thrilled to see these bovines amble toward the barn in response to the call, “Margarita…Sofia…Juanita”.