Huancayo Tourist Attractions
Huancayo is the primary city in this area of the Central Highlands. It is the capital of the Junín Department and the commercial center for the Rio Mantaro Valley. It also makes a good base for travelers wanting to explore the towns and sights in the surrounding area. Foreigners sometimes stay here for extended periods to take advantage of the Spanish classes offered in the city. Huancayo is known for its artisans who work in wool, metals, and other mediums. The Sunday market is a good place to see or purchase these crafts.Tourism in Huancayo was severely affected by terrorism in the 1980s and early 1990s but since the mid 1990s these problems have largely subsided.
The daily markets in Huancayo are where artisans can be found selling their artwork. There is a variety of these markets, some selling art and others selling all kinds of novelty items. Note that the artwork here has a range of quality and it helps to know the difference in advance. Two noteworthy daily markets are the Mercado Artesanal and the Mercado Moyorista. The Mercado Artesanal is a small market where visitors will find alpaca and wool blankets, hats, scarves, socks, and other miscellaneous items. The Mercado Moyorista sells fruits, vegetables, and herbs and is a good place to either buy these items or watch the transactions with the locals shopping here.
Jauja is a small but historic town about 40km / 25mi north of Huancayo. The area was inhabited by the Huancas before the Incas arrived. There are some Huaca ruins on a hillside just outside of Jauja, which can be reached on foot. Jauja was also the first Spanish capital of Peru, so designated by Francisco Pizzaro. Little from this time period remains, with the exception of some woodwork inside the church.Nearby Jauja is the small resort town of Laguna de Paca. There is a Wednesday market here but the main attraction is the lake. Visitors can take a boat ride around the lake, stopping at the tiny island of Isla del Amor.
The Museo Salesiano de Historia Natural y Arqueología Padre Vicente Rasetto, usually just referred to as Museo Salesiano, was completely renovated and expanded in 2004. The upgrades are evident in this now well organized museum. As the name suggests, the museum focuses on the natural and cultural history of Peru.On the natural history side are a huge number of displays featuring all kinds of insects, spiders, birds, and fossils from the Amazon and other parts of Peru. There are also dioramas depicting the flora and fauna. The archeological section displays pottery and other artifacts.
The huge Huancayo Sunday Market attracts some 50,000 people each week and has been going on for over 400 years. Trading between the Spanish and the Huanca people began as far back as 1572. Today the market attracts people from all over the Mantaro Valley, both to buy and sell their goods. This is the largest market in Peru.The Huancayo Sunday Market has stands selling anything locals would need in their daily lives, including food, clothing, and house hold items. There are some crafts sold here but these are more reserved for the daily markets rather than the Sunday Market.
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