Mariscal Nieto, Peru - Polarsteps

Moquegua, Peru: population: about 90,000. When the Spanish founded the city they gave it the name "Villa de Santa Catalina de Guadalcázar del Valle de Moquegua." The date of its founding is questionable. First, though, the pronunciation of its name is 'moh - KAY - wah'. Moquegua and the valley it sits in have been inhabited for a very long time. There were several successive cultures over thousands of years before the Incas conquered the Wari people. Archeologists have found a site they date back to 3500 BC that includes habitations and workshops. Over the centuries various groups have inhabited the valley and the nearby mountains and hills. The Wari developed terraced farms along the hillsides. Then along came the Incas in the 15th century. They conquered the Wari and the other groups of indigenous peoples. Then a century later the Spanish arrived and conquered the Incas. As for the founding date of Moquegua, that is uncertain. According to traditions passed down, it was in November 1541. The city's name was changed to Moquegua in 1821. Moquegua has a main plaza - Plaza de Armas (which is what all of the main plazas in the cities and towns in Peru are called). This plaza was designed in the 1800s by Gustave Eiffel. If that name sounds familiar it is because he also designed the Eiffel Tower. There are two museums on two sides of the plaza as well as restaurants and other shops. The historic center of Moquegua has many houses and buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries. This area has experienced many disastrous earthquakes - 1600, 1604, 1630, 1655, 1687, 1713, 1784, and more) so most of the original buildings were lost and rebuilt. There is much more here to explore but I didn't spend the time here to do that, it was only a stop-over on my way south. The city is supported by mining (copper, silver, gold, and other minerals), agriculture (oregano, avocado, grapes, and more), pisco liquor, and wine. Moquegua is called the copper capital of Peru. And, outside of Lima, Moquegua has one of the highest GDPs in Peru, at about 30,000 US dollars per capita. So, my impressions: Moquegua is a very interesting city with a lot of history still to be seen. If you get the chance to visit this town you should do so and spend at least two or three days here. The town is very clean, with very little litter anywhere in the streets. I think this is the cleanest town I have visited anywhere in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. The climate is certainly pleasant enough, as well. But, as I continue down the coast I realize that no matter how much I like these towns (Moquegua, Ica, Nazca) they just don't speak to me, not like Moyobamba and Tingo Maria on the other side of the mountains in the Selva region. Maybe it's because this part of Peru is too brown, with too much desert.
  1. ChipW
  2. My South America Journey
  3. Mariscal Nieto