Cajamarca Historic Center
Located in the northern mountains of Peru, Cajamarca was settled by pre-Inca cultures as early as 5000 B.C. In the fifteenth century A.D, the region became a strategic Incan administrative center for the Tahuantinsuyo Empire under the rule of Tupac Yupanqui (r. 1471-93). On November 16, 1532, Cajamarca was the site of the first encounter between Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro and Atahualpa. Shortly thereafter, Pizarro and his band conquered the Inca empire.
Due to its relative isolation, colonial and post-colonial development in Cajamarca was incremental, allowing the city to maintain much of its provincial character and historic architecture. The historic center of Cajamarca is remarkable for its well-preserved Baroque architecture constructed of volcanic stone and characterized by ornate façades. A significant example of viceroyal architecture in Cajamarca is the complex of Bethlemite buildings, which includes two hospitals, a church, and other community buildings.
How We Helped
In 2010, the Municipality of Cajamarca, the local office of the Ministry of Culture, and the Asociación Los Andes de Cajamarca (ALAC) completed a priority project focusing on the conservation of several important historic structures, monumental plazas and public spaces in the city center, including as well the draft of the first Historic Center Master Plan. WMF is currently implementing a project for the restoration of the Belén Religious Complex, which includes a church, central patio, hospitals, public plaza and a monastery. The restoration of the religious complex includes conservation work on all original interior decorative elements such as the pulpit, altars, and the dome, and the conversion of one of its rooms in order to be used as a performance space. The Cajamarca Historic Center project is currently ongoing and is anticipated to be completed in 2015.
Why It Matters
Cajamarca is an important historic city with a precious architectural heritage threatened by development and lack of a management plan. Asociación Los Andes de Cajamarca (ALAC), the Municipality of Cajamarca, and the local office of the Ministry of Culture have established a public-private partnership with a long-term vision for the historic center and its ongoing use and enjoyment by residents and visitors. The Belén Religious Complex played a vital role in the community from its development in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The women’s hospital provided basic medical care for the community well into the twentieth century. The church itself is an important example of Andean Baroque and thus a colonial-period monument of significant importance.