- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
- Spanish Phrases
Cajamarca is the best place to stay if you want to explore the lovely landscape and rich history of the northern highlands; from here there are a number of daylong excursions to nearby ruins and hot springs.
The largest city in the northern highlands, it's a tranquil town of more than 150,000 people. Sitting in a large green valley surrounded by low hills, it feels a bit like Cusco minus all the tourists. The name Cajamarca means "village of lightning" in the Aymara language. It's fitting, for the ancient Cajamarcans worshipped the god Catequil, whose power was symbolized by a bolt of lightning. The area around town was first populated by the Cajamarcan people, whose major cultural influence came from the cat-worshipping Chavín, 3,000 years ago. The Inca conquered the region in about 1460, assimilating the Chavín culture. Cajamarca soon became an important town along the Capac Ñan or Royal Inca Road.
The arrival of the Spanish conquistador Pizarro and his quick-witted defeat of the Incas soon brought the city and much of the region into Spanish hands. Few Inca ruins remain in modern-day Cajamarca; the settlers dismantled many of the existing structures to build the churches that can be seen today. The town's colonial center is so well preserved that it was declared a Historic and Cultural Patrimony Site by the Organization of American States in 1986.
Cajamarca at a Glance
Sports and Outdoors
Elsewhere in The North Coast and Northern Highlands
- Chavín de Huántar
- Lagunas de Llanganuco
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's