6 Best Sights in Huanuco, The Central Highlands

Iglesia La Merced

The Romanesque Iglesia La Merced was built in 1566, possibly by the friar Diego de Porras. Colonial treasures include a silver tabernacle, paintings of the Cusco School (Escuela Cusqueña), and the images of the Virgen Purísima and the Corazón de Jesús that were gifts from King Phillip II.

Iglesia San Cristóbal

Fronting a landscape of steep, grassy mountain slopes, the Iglesia San Cristóbal, with its three-tiered bell tower, was erected in 1542, the first local church built by Spanish settlers. Inside is a valuable collection of colonial-era paintings and baroque wood sculptures of San Agustín, the Virgen de la Asunción, and the Virgen Dolorosa.

Iglesia San Francisco

The 16th-century Iglesia San Francisco, the city's second-oldest church, has Cusco School paintings and a few colonial-era antiques. Peek inside to see the spectacular gilt wall and arches behind the altar.

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Considered one of South America's oldest temples, the 4,000-year-old Kotosh is famous for the Templo de las Manos Cruzadas (Temple of the Crossed Hands). Some of the oldest Peruvian pottery relics were discovered below one of the niches surrounding the main room of the temple, and the partially restored ruins are thought to have been constructed by a pre-Chavín culture whose origins are still unknown. Inside the temple you'll see re-created images of the crossed hands. The original mud set is dated 2000 BC and is on display in Lima's Museo Nacional de Antropología, Arqueología, e Historia del Perú. The site was named Kotosh, Quechua for "pile," in reference to the piles of rocks found strewn across the fields. Taxi fare is S/20 for the round-trip journey from Huánuco, including a half-hour to sightsee.

Huánuco, Peru
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Pampa de Huánuco

Also known as Huánuco Viejo, this was formerly the ancient capital city of Chinchaysuyo, the northern portion of the Inca Empire. These highland pampas contain Inca ruins and are near the town of La Unión, a S/30 taxi ride from Huánuco. Note the trapezoidal double-jamb doorways, an Inca hallmark. During the last week of July, the Fiesta del Sol (Sun Festival) takes place at the ruins.


This small village was reportedly the birthplace of Micaela Villegas, a famous indigenous actress in the 18th century and the mistress of Viceroy Manuel de Amat y Juniet, Peru's most prominent colonial official during the Enlightenment. Also known as La Perricholi, the spunky peruanita was the basis of Prosper Mérimée's comic novella Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement before becoming an important character—along with the viceroy—in Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey. A festival in July with parades, music, and dancing celebrates her vitality. Beautiful mountain views are the main attraction of the 2,000-meter-high (6,500-foot- high) area. Sixteenth-century San Miguel Arcángel, one of the first churches built in the Huánuco area, is nearby in the village of Huacar.