Located in the department of Junin, the city of Huancayo, nicknamed the Incomparable, is a busy commercial and tourist city in the midst of the Andes. It is also the living symbol of a proud people. The Mantaro Valley was dominated by the Huancas, a warring tribe that was an enemy to the Incas for centuries before finally being conquered by Inca ruler Pachacútec in the fifteenth century.
The Huancayo townspeople are proud of having kept their traditions alive. This can be seen from the many monuments built around the city in honor of the Huanca Identity. Particulary interesting are the artisan´s quarters of Tambo and San Jerónimo, whose inhabitants have been potters and silversmiths since the dawn of civilization. Travelers can also visit the nearby town Ingenio and lunch on the delicious fresh rainbow trout bred at the many fish farms in the area.
One can find marvels such as the Ocopa Convent or Lake Paca in Jauja, in other provinces of the department of Junin, such as Concepcion. Huancayo is also famous for its cuisine with exotic dishes, such as Papa a la Huancaina (potato in a spicy cheese sauce), Human Caldo (sheepshead broth), Patachi (a bacon and wheat soup) and Huallca Chupe (chicken and vegetable soup). These are just a few or the many local recipes that can be sampled to the strains of local dances such as the Huaylarsh, Chonguinada and Sahapi.
:: OCOPA: THE ALEXANDRIA OF THE ANDES
Its said that when Friar Francisco de San José, (a Franciscan priest from Spain eager to convert the natives to Christianity) reached this remote region, he decided to stop along the way and build a chapel to honor the Lord. Santa Rosa de Ocopa was just another unassuming village in the Andean foothills as early as 1725. However over time, the small chapel turned into the operating base from where missionaries set out into the jungle, bent on converting Ashaninka tribes to Catholicism.
Three centuries later, there are two reasons why Ocopa is such a priceless historical monument; its ancient colonial cloisters, which have remained intact since their foundation, and the library, a unique repository of history and culture form the colonial and republica eras. The collection not only includes testimonies of those long nights spent by the Franciscan friars composing chronicles and travel tales but also 25,000 volumenes which are watched by the guardians and attract hundreds of researchers from all over the world to consult them.
The Ocopa convent also houses unique editions of ancient books and an art collection featuring valuable oil paintings from the Huamanga and Cuzco Schools. Turned into a major tourist attraction. The Ocopa Convent turned into a major tourist attraction, features four cloisters - the Portería del Olivo, The Obrería and Padre Pío- groves of trees, an ancient churchbell and its imposing library visited everyday by travelers and researchers from universities in both Peru and from abroad, in search of the mystical ancient wisdom of the Franciscan monks.