The city was founded as Villa de Santiago de Habancay in 1574 by the Spanish Ruiz de Estrada, choosing the Our Lady of the Rosary as the patron saint of town. Of course the city was not founded over wasteland. This rich valley with such a tropical climate-palm trees, heat and mosquitoes-was populated before the arrival or Europeans. You are in Chanca territory, an ethnic group that rose to power between 1200 and 1438, when Pachacútec conquered them after a long resistance. The Chancas were warrior-like and heroic, admired nowadays through the historic-mythical figure of Ancoallo. In reality, their defeat took place in middle of their thrist for expansion that made them besiege the city of Cusco with an army of 40 thousand men leaded by Ancoallo, triggerin the escape of Wiracocha and the imperial nobility towards Collasuyo. A fearsome battle took place in Yahuarpampa (“fields of blood” in Quechua), that was won by the Cusquenians thanks to an alliance with neighboring towns. This victorious deed is accounted by the indigenous chronicler, Joan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti Yamqui Salcamaygua (1613), in a marvelous tale where he assures that the battle was won because a great amount of rocks came to life as soldiers, known as pururaucas. The Spanish chronicles Bernabé Cobo (1653) reckons a second attack of the Chancas, also leaded by Anccu Huayco against Pachacútec. The leader escaped from imprisonment and united eight thousand armed Chancas in order to recover the lost territories. When he realized his weakness, once he faced the Inca power in quantity and forces, he seeked refuge in the jungle going down-river by the Urubamba.
Abancay’s calm landscape paradoxically has been the scenario of commotion and battles for power. This is the place where Almagro and Pizarro’s forces were confronted after irreconcilable differences due to their loyalties. Pizarristas allegedly buried a fabulous treasure somewhere in Abancay, many meters under where the black slave that dug the hole was also buried too. The treasure has not been found, despite rumors and legends assuring that, in recent years, many administrations sent military personnel follow the Almagrista’s path to find nothing more than a solid golden crucifix of great size that was mysteriously lost. The truth is that five Pizarristas from the original Conquistadors establish themselves in Abancay to look after the treasure, a reason of pride for the Abancay locals who assured that the “real” Spanish settled there.
They were Miguel de Saavedra, Francisco de Villegas, Narciso Camacho, Mariano Bastidas de la Guardia and Ignacio Martín de Silva. Forty years later, the Visitator (Inspector) Ruiz de Estrada founded a town for his fellowmen in Maucacalle that he named as Villa de Santiago de los Reyes de Amancay. Some prts of the original temple remain, including the altar and works of art, but it is quite unattractive due to an unusual modernization. According to Peruvian tradition of religious syncretism when it comes to virgins, there are two images of the Patron of the Rosary inside the temple remain, including the altar and works of art, but it is quite unattractive due to an unusual modernization. According to Peruvian tradition of religious syncretism when it comes to viurgins, there are two images of the Patron of the Rosary inside the temple. One is never taken out, and the other one, “the pilgrim image” is taken out for procession and festivities. The patronal celebration takes palce in October 7 and it is currently a very simple event, unlike the old days when there were landowners. It was an occasion for the buying, selling and exhibition of fine horses, a hobby of Abancay’s lords who were fond of horse breeding.