Huancavelica (Spanish pronunciation: [waŋkaβeˈlika]) or
Wankawilka in Quechua is a city in Peru. It is the capital of the
Huancavelica region and according to the 2007 census had a population
of 40,004 people (41,334 in the metropolitan area). The city was
established on August 5, 1572 by the Viceroy of
Peru Francisco de
Indigenous peoples represent a major percentage of the
population. It has an approximate altitude of 3,660 meters; the
climate is cold and dry between the months of February and August with
a rainy season between September and January. It is considered one of
the poorest cities in Peru.
7 Places of interest
8 See also
10 External links
Huancavelica area features a rough geography with highly varied
elevation, from 1,950 metres in the valleys to more than 5,000 metres
on its snow-covered summits. These mountains contain metallic
deposits. They consist of the western chain of the Andes, which
includes the Chunta mountain range, formed by a series of hills, the
most prominent of which are: Sitaq (5,328m),
Wamanrasu (5,298m) and
Among the rivers of the region there are the Mantaro, the Pampas, the
Huarpa and the Churcampa. The
Mantaro River penetrates Huancavelica,
forming Tayacaja's Peninsula. Another river that shapes the relief is
the Pampas River which is born in the lakes of the high mountains of
Chuqlluqucha and Urququcha.
At the time of Spanish conquest,
Huancavelica was known as the
Wankawillka region or "sacred stone". The city itself was established
on August 5, 1572.
The deposits of
Huancavelica were disclosed in 1564, or 1566, by the
Indian Nahuincopa to his master Jerónimo Luis de Cabrera. The Spanish
Crown appropriated them in 1570 and operated them until Peruvian
independence in 1821. Considered the "greatest jewel in the crown",
they eliminated the need to ship mercury from Almadén. A miners
guild, Gremio de Mineros, administered the mines from 1577 until 1782.
Production stopped from 1813 through 1835. In 1915 E.E. Fernandini
took over ownership.
The area was the most prolific source of mercury in Spanish America,
and as such was vital to the mining operations of the Spanish colonial
era. Mercury was necessary to extract silver from the ores produced
in the silver mines of Peru, as well as those of
Potosí in Alto Perú
("Upper Perú," now Bolivia), using amalgamation processes such as the
patio process or pan amalgamation. Mercury was so essential that
mercury consumption was the basis upon which the tax on precious
metals, known as the quinto real ("royal fifth"), was levied.
The extraction of the quicksilver in the socavones (tunnels) was
extremely difficult. Every day before the miners came down, a mass for
the dead was celebrated. Due to the need of numerous hand-workers and
the high rate of mortality, the Viceroy of Perù Francisco de Toledo
resumed and improved the pre-Columbian mandatory service of the mita.
The allotted concession were rectangular, about 67x33m. Miners were
divided in carreteros and barreteros.
Due to the discovery and then the extraction of the azogue (mercury)
in a hill close to the actual location of the city, the Santa Barbara
mine became famous in the new world and its activity led to the
Viceroy of Peru, Francisco de Toledo, to establish the city in 1572
with the name of Villa Rica de Oropesa.
In 1648 the Viceroy of Peru, declared that
Potosí and Huancavelica
were "the two pillars that support this kingdom and that of Spain."
Moreover, the viceroy thought that Spain could, if necessary, dispense
with the silver from Potosí, but it could not dispense with the
mercury from Huancavelica.
In the modern times, due to different political and economical events,
the city went through a period of decades of lack of progress from the
rest of the country. Now, this situation appears to change due to the
attention of the recent government administrations.
A 1977 recording of a wedding song sung by a young girl from this
region was included on the Golden Record carried on board the Voyager
Voyager 2 probes.
The principal ore mineral is cinnabar, which occurs within the
Cretaceous Gran Farallon sandstones, and fractures found in the
Jurassic Pucara and
Cretaceous Machay limestones and igneous rocks.
Other sulfide minerals occurring with these deposits include pyrite,
arsenopyrite and realgar.
Caving became top to bottom in 1806 in order to avoid several
disasters in previous years. The most infamous one being the Marroquin
caving which took the lives of over a hundred Indians.
Most of the quicksilver was produced from 1571 until 1790, amounting
to more than 1,400,000 flasks.
Buses run from
Lima by a paved road.
There is another road that connects it with the city of
Pisco in the
coast. Buses depart from the terminal terrestre located in the west
side of the city.
Huancavelica is serviced by a train which runs between it and Huancayo
known as "el Tren Macho". According to popular saying, this train
“leaves when it wants and arrives when it can...”.
In 2009, the line between the break-of-gauge at
Huancavelica was being converted from 914 mm (3 ft) gauge to
1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) gauge. By
October 2010 it was finished and it is now in service.
Huancavelica is home of the local university; the Universidad Nacional
de Huancavelica, which has some branches in other cities of the
region. The city is home too of other technical institutes like the
Instituto Superior Tecnologico and the Instituto Superior Pedagogico.
The city has one hospital; the Hospital General, that serves the city
and the nearby towns. Close to the hospital there is a clinic; the
Places of interest
The city has monuments from the times of the colony, most of them are
churches in a number of eight, located in different parts of the city,
of which the most important is the cathedral located at the main
square. Another important site is the former Santa Barbara mine,
located about three Km. from the city in an ancient road that was
famous during colonial times for the extraction of mercury.
Almadén (the other major source of mercury in the Spanish empire).
Transport in Peru
^ Perú: Población estimada al 30 de junio y tasa de crecimiento de
las ciudades capitales, por departamento, 2011 y 2015. Perú:
Estimaciones y proyecciones de población total por sexo de las
principales ciudades, 2012-2015 (Report). Instituto Nacional de
Estadística e Informática. March 2012. Retrieved 2015-06-03.
^ a b c d e f Yates, Robert; Kent, Dean; Concha, Jaime (1951). Geology
Huancavelica Quicksilver District, Peru, USGS Bulletin 975-A.
Washington: United States Government Printing Office.
^ Arthur Preston Whitaker, The
Huancavelica Mercury Mine: A
Contribution to the History of the Bourbon Renaissance in the Spanish
Empire, Harvard Historical Monographs 16 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 1941).
^ Trains (magazine), March 2009, p68
Pagina Web del Gobierno Regional de
Huancavelica - Peru
Web Oficial Municipalidad de la Ciudad de Huancavelica
Rutas de Acceso a
Lima - Peru
Bruno COLLIN, « L’argent du Potosi (Pérou) et les émissions
monétaires françaises », Histoire et mesure, XVII - N° 3/4 -
Monnaie et espace, mis en ligne le 30 octobre 2006, référence du 24
septembre 2007, disponible sur :
Raul GUERRERO (Pau University, UA 911), La cartographie minière
Web Page of Gobierno Regional de
Huancavelica - Peru
Rutas de Acceso a
Lima - Peru
Regional capitals of Peru
Cerro de Pasco