Cajamarca is a city in Peru’s northern plateau, placed at 2.700 MASL. It is the capital city of the Peruan region by the same name and has 153.466 inhabitants, making it the main city in northern Peru. The name directly originates from the ancient Quechuan toponym Caxamalca. Its foundation (around 1370) is as old as Cuzco’s and Quito’s, and predates the Spanish invasion. In
1986 the OAS designated Cajamarca as a site of Historical and Cultural Heritage of the Americas.
Cajamarca is especially reminded of for historical event connected to the Spanish invasion and the end of the Inca Empire, known as the Battle of Cajamarca.
On 16 November 1532, Francisco Pizarro and his 168 soldiers met Emperor Atahualpa at the end of their march from Piura. Though outnumbered, the Spaniards ambushed and captured Atahualpa who, in spite of the huge ransom paid, was nonetheless treacherously executed. This was the start of the European invasion of the area, and the city of Cajamarca would become the Spanish Army’s earliest stronghold in South America.
El Cuarto del Rescate
In Cajamarca, captive Emperor Atahualpa offered Francisco Pizarro to buy his own liberty by filling the room where he was kept prisoner with gold, up to the level of the reach of his arm. The room was 6 m long and 4 m wide, while the red line marking the height of the Inca’s reach, was 2 m high. Pizarro accepted, and temples were emptied throughout the empire, for the despair and the tears of Incan priests and people. The process was dragging on, and the greedy Spanish soldiers started urging for an untimely dishing out. Pizarro, fearing uproars, started sharing the the gold, and after dubious trial, Atahualpa was finally garroted.
The Ransom Room has remained intact. Years passed, and the room would be used in a number of diverse ways, i.e. depot, barn, stall, shed, even primary school, but the red line has survived the ages and is today still visible (though refreshed from time to time).
There is no widespread consensus on the room being the very same room where the Inca was held prisoner.
Cajamarca’s main sites of interest also feature the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral.
The Plaza de Armas is where the Spaniards strangled Atahualpa in 1533. It is where Peru’s most important and colourful Carnival is being celebrated every February.
The Cathedral was the first religious edifice to be built followong the Royal Decree of 26 December 1665, ordering the establishment of a Spanish parish in Cajamarca. It took 250 years to build the cathedral in its present shape, with its 2 truncated towers; the belltower would never be built instead.
The twinning with Spoleto started in 2010.