History of Achacachi

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Precolonial existence of Achacachi




chacachi as urban establishment already existed before the arrival of the Spaniards, as we can see in the descriptions that were made on “cronicas”, chronicles, and “relaciones” that were official papers written by real or ecclesiastical Spaniards authorities.


Jach’ak’achi (Spanished as Achacachi) was the capital of a pacasa dominion (señorio).  A dominion is the remainder of the disintegration that Taypikala (300 d.C. - 900 d.C.) suffered, this city is known by and large as Tiwanaku.

The pacasa people lived on the East side of lake Titikjarka—Titicaca—called umasuyus region. They talked, and still, the aymara language. The umasuyus region limited to the North with the Larilari people.


The pacasa people together with the lupacas—who lived on the West side the lake Titikjarkawere invaded by the Incas to the head of Capac Yupanqui, lupacas and pacasas resisted to the attack and were not defeated. That is why they even speak his own language the aymara, they do not speak the Quichua language as towns conquered by the Incas, do.  These both people, pacasas and lupacas, were known as “kullas” by Incas and “collas” by Spanish conquerors.


When arriving the Spaniards, there was already known a town called as Jach'ak’achi, as we will see in the chronicles of the Spaniards, word that comes to Spanish as Achacachi. Jach’ak’achi comes from two aymara words, “jach’a”, ‘big’ and “k’achi”, ‘point’. So, it means ‘Big Point’. 


Achacachi was recognised as administrative Capital in January, 24 of 1826. Like this town already existed, the Decree of the indicated date is single a recognition to that existence.



Rafael Loredo, based on the papers of La Gasca referring to Chuquiabo (or Chuquiyapu, now La Paz), gives reference of the County of Comasuio (Omasuyos) that includes the town of Cahatarche (Achacache) with its main cacique called Yabita and one second called Zuguparo, town that has 750 Indians.



Of this important document was revised “Distributions and indians that there is in the district of La Paz city that their majesty commended and who and how much assess has.”


The distributions of Omasuyos are Guarina, Achacache, Ancoraymes of them are carried out the following references:


*       “Those commended of Achacache are for half, Sancho Zurbana and Diego de Sárate for two lives and having died this last one, he had for heir successor to Francisco of Sárate Ondegardo, their legitimate son”.

*      “In the visit that was made in 1573 there were in this distribution 1.713 tributary Indians of which 1.271 were aymaras and 442 uros.  They had 278 old useless men that do not give tribute, 1.545 young men and 17 year old girls or below and 3.152 women of all age and state”.


As we see the city of Achacachi it already existed for the year 1573.


“Relationship Of The Occupations That Are Provided In The Kingdom Of The Peru Of People That Confer Them And Of The Wages Assigned To Them. Years 1578 At 1583”

This relationship provides the Corregidores (somelike Mayors) of cities and indians and other duties of smaller hierarchy: 







Joan despinoza


Ntra. Sra. Concepción


Hernando Cherinos





Cosme de Gusman


Villa de Mérida


Maria de Salazar





Diego de Cárate


Villa de Cáceres


Marina Munarres





Marina Munarres


Villa de Lanzas


Joan Remon


San Pedro y San Pablo


Joan Ramírez








Here also we can see that for the years 1578 to 1583 already make an appointment to Achacachi like mitayos (workers of the mines) supplier.


1696 La Paz’s Archbishop Letter.

This letter describes the territorial organization and consigns that the town of Achacache is far 16 leguas far away from La Paz and where is new priest Luis de Vibero. (1 legua, in an old Spaniard system, is a distance that a man can walk in one hour some like 5573 mt.)


As you can read Achacachi in 1696 already had a designated priest. This letter moreover refers the existence of two parish churches, one near Titicaca Lake with the invocation of San Joseph and another to the same lake bank under Santiago's invocation (probably refers to Santiago de Huele, now Santiago de Huata, which is 10 Km East Achacachi).


Cosme  Bueno’s “Geography Of Viceregal Peru”

Cosme Bueno in “Geography of Viceregal Peru” written around 1770 refers to the rectory of “Achacache” that is the capital.  It has a church called Señor de la Misericordia (Lord.of the Mercy) and five annexes that are: Tajara, Iscachacachí , Ancorayme, Santiago and Belen.



This sentence mentions Achacachi town –sentence says Abacachi—like the place where will be put on in a pillory the decapitated left hand of Julián Apaza (Tupac Katari) quartered body, so that all know that it will happen them if they pretend to rebel to the Spanish colonial power.


This sentence was dictated November 11 1781 in Peñas Sanctuary by the Jugde (Oidor, Hearer) Francisco Tadeo Diez de Medina, read the following and executed day November 14 (Del Valle de Siles, Maria Eugenia (editora), Diario del alzamiento de indios conjurados contra la ciudad de nuestra señora de La Paz 1781 por Francisco Tadeo Diez de Medina, La Paz, Bolivia: Don Bosco: 2da, 1994, page, 322;   VillamOr L., Fernando,  La codificación penal en Bolivia, La Paz, Bolivia: Popular, 1997, page, 72).


The sentece says:


"I fail attentive to the merit of the summary, of the confession and of the papers in my own that I should condemn and I condemn this Julián Apaza (a.k.) Tupacatari, in ordinary pain of death and last torture, and in conformity, using of the exclusive abilities of the Supreme court Government of Buenos Aires that were I given for this General Command, I order to taken out of the prison where he is, crawled to the tail of a horse, with an esparta rope to the neck, a half coroza or leather cap and a proclaimer publish their crimes in this Sanctuary square where the troop must be spread with their Majesty's weapons and summon Indians of these counties attend,… And seized by robust strings were quartered by four horses... until, naturally he dies, done this, its head must be carried to the city of La Paz, and fixed on the fork of the main square… The right hand must be send to his town of Ayoayo and put in a pillory and with their corresponding label, later to Sicasica, where must be practiced the same thing; the left one to the capital town of Abacachi in same conformity, for the same the right leg to Chulumani and the other to Caquibiri of the Pacajes,…"  (Chávez, Julio César, Tupac Amaru, Buenos Aires, Argentina: Asunción, 1973, pagina 195;  Lewin, Boleslao, La Rebelión de Tupac Amaru y los Orígenes de la Independencia en Hispanoamérica, Buenos Aires, Argentina: Sociedad Editora Latinoamericana CELA, 3ra, 1967, pagina 476)



These documents mentioned up: "Francisco Toledo's General Visit Assess", "Relationship Of The Occupations That Are Provided In The Kingdom Of The Peru Of People That Confer Them And Of The Wages Assigned To Them. Years 1578 At 1583", "1696 La Paz's Archbishop Letter", Cosme  Bueno's "Geography Of Viceregal Peru" and "Francisco Tadeo Diez De Medina's Sentence Against Julián Apaza In 1781" prove that the city of Achacachi already existed before the conquest of the Spaniards.



History of Achacachi in pictures

The Mayor or Jilak’ata it is an importan carácter in Achacachinean culture. (Detail of El Alcalde de Chincheros by José Sabogal)

The umasuyus (‘watermen’)) fishing in Lake Titicaca aboard their totora boat.  



Totora boat sailing in Titicaca Lake, far end the Illampù mountain.

The Illampù mountain beyond the farmer going to Achacachi in Sunday

Santiagos’s Church, first temple built in Achacachi.

Achacachi, seen from Surucachi mountain.




Achacachi’s main square in Sunday’s fair day.


Trial House

The current Mayor

Eugenio Rojas




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