El Señor de Muruhuay

Central Highlands

This white shrine visible on a hill 1.5km from Acobamba is one of Peru’s top pilgrimage sites, built around a rock etching of Christ crucified. A small chapel replaced the previous roughly thatched hut at the site in 1835 and the present sanctuary, inaugurated in 1972, is a modern building with an electronically controlled bell tower. It's decorated with huge weavings from San Pedro de Cajas. Acobamba is 9km from Tarma.

The image of Christ supposedly appeared to smallpox sufferers during a regional epidemic, healing them when authorities had left them for dead. Historians claim it was carved with a sword by a royalist officer who was one of the few survivors after losing the major independence Battle of Junín, but this story has less cachet and legends relating to the image’s miraculous appearance persist.

The feast of El Señor de Muruhuay, held throughout May, has been celebrated annually since 1835. At this time, Acobamba and the shrine morph into bedlam with devout from across the country converging. There are religious services, processions, dances, fireworks, ample opportunities to sample local produce and even a few gringos. Stalls sell chicha (fermented corn beer) and cuy (guinea pig), but be wary unless your stomach is travel-hardened.

Visitors usually stay in nearby Tarma, although Acobamba has accommodations.