From Academic Kids

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Aerial view of Cajamarca, with Santa Appollonia hill in foreground

Cajamarca is located in the northern highlands of Peru, and is the capital of the Cajamarca region. It is approximately 2,700 m (8,900 ft) above sea level and has a population of about 100,000 people. Cajamarca has an equatorial climate so it is mild, dry and sunny, which creates very fertile soil. The city is well-known for its fine cheeses and dairy products. Cajamarca is also known for its churches, and hot springs, or Inca Baths. There are also several active mining sites in surrounding areas. Most of all, Peruvians remember Cajamarca as the place where the Inca Empire came to an end, since the capture and execution of Atahualpa took place here.


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Cajamarca's Plaza de Armas

The origin of the city goes back over 3,000 years. Traces of pre-Chavín cultures can be seen in surrounding archaeological sites such as Cumbe Mayo and Kuntur Wasi. During the period between 1463 and 1471, Tupac Inca conquered the area and brought Cajamarca into the Tawantinsuyu, or Inca empire, which at the time was still being ruled by Tupac's father Pachacuti.

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Street in Cajamarca

Cajamarca's place in history is secured by the tragedy of 1532. Atahualpa had beaten his brother in a battle for the Inca throne in Quito. On his way back to Cusco to claim the throne with his army of 80,000 soldiers, he ran into a small band of about a 170 explorers (conquistadors) from a distant land. These explorers invited Atahualpa to a peace ceremony in his honor in Cajamarca's Plaza de Armas. For this the explorers sent a Friar, Vicente de Valverde, to convince Athualpa to adopt the Christian faith. Atahualpa merely observed a Christian bible handed to him and quickly threw it on the floor as a sign of indifference. The events that unfolded after this incident would only culminate in bringing about the end of the Inca Empire, as the Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro invaded the Main Plaza of Cajamarca and soon captured Atahualpa and most of his army.

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"The Ransom room" from the outside

Once the Spanish had Atahualpa, they held him captive in Cajamarca's main temple. They were able to convince Atahualpa's generals not to attack by threatening to kill their king if they did. But the Conquistadors were also trapped, with only a small force. Atahualpa believed he understood these men, he thought all they were interested in were some valuables to bring back to their own king. So he offered to fill a 88 m3 room with gold and twice over with silver, within two months. The Spanish were staggered by this offer. This room is now known as El Cuarto del Rescate, or "The Ransom Room" Tourists to Cajamarca can see a room by this name in Cajamarca, but most likely the room is Atahualpa's cell, not his ransom room. In the end Atahualpla had misjudged the Conquistadors; after they had the ransom they murdered him.


  • Conquest of the Incas. John Hemming, 1973.

See also

es:Cajamarca eo:Cajamarca nl:Cajamarca it:Cajamarca


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