Huaraz founded as San Sebastian de Huaraz, is a city in Peru. It is the capital of the Ancash Region (State of Ancash) and the seat of government of Huaraz Province. The urban agglomeration’s population is distributed over the districts of Huaraz and Independencia. The city is located in the central part of the Callejon de Huaylas Valley and on the right side of the river Santa, in addition the city has an elevation of approximately 3050 metres. The agglomeration has an extension of 8 km2 and a population of 120,000 inhabitants, making it the second largest city in the central Peruvian Andes after the city of Huancayo, and the 22nd largest city in Peru. Huaraz is the headquarters of the province’s Roman Catholic Bishop and the site of his official cathedral.
Huaraz is the main financial and commerce center of the Callejón de Huaylas and the main tourist center of Ancash region, moreover, is one of the important cities in the Peruvian Andes. Huaraz is the main place of winter sports and adventure. Many visitors from around the world arrived to the city for practicing sports as climbing, hiking, snowboarding and also to visit the glaciers and mountains of the Cordillera Blanca, mainly the Huascarán snow peak, that is considered the highest mountain in tropics, all of them located in Huascarán National Park that is a nature world heritage site by UNESCO.
Huaraz is in north-central Peru, about 420 km north of Lima, and at an altitude of 3,052 metres (10,013 ft). It is the largest population center in the agriculturally important Callejón de Huaylas valley. The Callejón (in Spanish roughly meaning large valley or corridor) is a north-south valley bounded on the east by the Cordillera Blanca (permanent white snowcaps and glaciers) and on the west by the Cordillera Negra (no permanent snowcapped peaks or glaciers, hence black). The Cordillera Blanca includes Huascarán, the highest mountain in Peru at 6,768 metres (22,205 ft) and the third highest in the Western Hemisphere. Huascarán and the adjacent peak Huandoy in fair weather are clearly visible from Huaraz.
The Santa River flows north through Huaraz. It is not commercially navigable but has always furnished the city with good water. The river is a rocky-bottom narrow stream of glacier-fed cold water that flows generally west of center in the Callejón, running north to the valley’s north end. There it rushes downward through the narrow Cañón del Pato (duck canyon), turns westward at the town of Huallanca, and continues to the coast where it enters the Pacific Ocean south of the city of Chimbote. The Santa River is the traditional west boundary of Huaraz, although part of the city’s population has lived on the west bank there for as long as two centuries.
The nominal north boundary of Huaraz is along a westward flowing creek that empties into the Santa River. The creek, whose watershed is the westward facing nearby foothills and slopes of the Cordillera Blanca, has twice since 1940 been the channel of two devastating earthquake-precipitated floods (see below). The most recent devastating flood and avalanche along this creek bed was a result of the 1970 earthquake.
The avalanche of 1941 had filled the creek valley with debris, covering the new suburb on the city’s north edge. The 1970 avalanche and floodwaters down this creek valley destroyed the city’s north-side subdivision, which had been partially rebuilt by the late 1960s. The 1970 avalanche debris also created a temporary natural dam across the Santa River, which barrier caused flooding throughout much of the city. The quake had wrecked almost all the city’s major buildings. Over the next few days the city was devastated by flooding from both the creek and the river and by water-borne earthquake debris.
In the city, prairies, forests and snow peaks can be seen from the urban center. But inside Huaraz, there are some tourist sites to visit. At La Soledad, there is the Lord of Soledad Chapel, which contains crucified Christ, that was founded during colony times. Also there are pre-Hispanic ruins, 3 miles from the city in Wilcahuain, where there are stone palaces of Wari culture. Other ruins are located 1 mile from Huaraz in Waullac, surrounded by big prairies with views of snow peaks and mountains.
At downtown across from the Plaza de Armas (main Square) is located the Museum of Ancash, which contains a lot of value pieces of the Recuay culture, and in this museum there is the Monolithic Park, which is considered one of the largest in America. 8 miles north from Huaraz, the Monterrey Baths are located, which contain hot springs with medical properties, and also is a so ecological place surrounded by forests, and in there there are lodges and some upscales hotels. Huaraz is the touristic operation center of the region, drawing thousands of visitors that practice adventure and winter sports. Also, Huascarán National Park, which is considered a biosphere reserve, is a popular destination for tourists.
The peaks of the region have for many decades been the testing grounds for mountain climbers anticipating future expeditions into the Himalayas. Huaraz is a popular base for expeditions into the Cordillera Blanca and the Waywash mountain range south of the Callejón del Huaylas. In the streets surrounding the farmers’ market, the paraditas (street markets) of local sellers offer handicraft products such as ponchos, alpaca textiles (carpets, sweaters, etc.); jewelry made of locally-mined tin, copper, and silver; cuarteados (a typical dessert from the nearby town of Caraz made by mixing manjarblanco and fruit cake); boxes of manjarblanco, butter, cheese, honey, smoked and salty hams, jerky (Quechua charqui), etc.