Since time immemorial, Huánuco has witnessed many major events in Peruvian history. It was here that archaeologists found traces of human occupation in Lauricocha, the oldest settlement in Peru and Kotosh, the Temple of the Crossed Arms, held to be the oldest in the Americas. Other important pre-inca archaeological sites are Tantamayo and Garu.
When the Incas annexed Huánuco into their empire, the city became an obligatory way station along the route between Cuzco, the imperial capital, and Cajamarca, the most important city in the northern part of the Inca empire, the Tahuantinsuyo. The Incas left behind a complex of more than 3,000 constructions at Huánuco Pampa.
The city was founded in 1539 and the seat of a major cultural movement during colonial times. This can be seen from the architectural style of buildings such as the Cathedral and the churches of San Francisco and San Cristobal, which also house valuable collections of colonial art.
Just a few hours from the city of Huánuco lies, Tingo Maria. This town lent its name to the Tingo Maria National Park, which shelters a staggering variety of flora and fauna. The park features spectacular scenery such as the Pumaringri mountain range, whose silhouette resembles a sleeping woman, thus giving rise to its nickname, La Bella Durmiente (Sleeping Beauty). The park also features the Cueva de las Lechuzas (the Cave of the Owls), a cave which is a haven for a large variety of bird species.
The townsfolk run tourist excursions during the celebration of the Anniversary of Huanuco and the Festival of the Perricholi. Huanuco also features natural hot springs such as Taripampa and Conoc.
:: KOTOSH: THE TEMPLE OF THE CROSSED ARMS
Part of the magic of exploring Peru is the astounding number of discoveries and archaeological ruins located near many of the country’s main cities. This is the case of the Temple of the Crossed Arms of Kotosh, just 4 km (2.48 miles) from the picturesque highland town of Huánuco.
Nearly 5,000 years old, Kotosh is one of the earliest signs of civilization in the Americas. The site features a series of pyramid-shaped mounds, including a chamber decorated with a mud sculpture of two pair of crossed arms, one of the oldest examples of sculptures in the Andes.
Experts have had difficulty studying the decoration of the Temple because of the age of the ruins. Some believe the crossed arms inside the complex symbolize alleged sacrifices carried out by the high priests as offerings to their deities. Others, however, see the crossed arms as a symbol of protection against their enemies and even a representation of ritual communion. In any case, the absence of ruins of housing in the area point to the fact kotosh did not house many people, but rather was a sacred spot, a pilgrimage center.
Kotosh is a living symbol of the ancient treasures Peru guards in every nook and cranny of its territory and part of the landscape of Huànuco and Peru.