Lamas, located about 22km away from Tarapoto, is a small town known for its indigenous heritage, cultural significance and historic importance. Now, let me ask you: does this sound like a good place to build a great big replica medieval castle in the European style…?
Lamas Castle, San Martin, Peru
OK, I went to Lamas a few weeks ago on my way back from Chachapoyas. It was ridiculously early in the morning but my driver, a proud Lamista, wanted to show me his town (and he had to go see his mum). One of the places he wanted to show me was the castle. I’d heard that an Italian had built a castle in Lamas and, needless to say, I was intrigued.
I was expecting something on a small scale. I was wrong – it’s big. It’s an impressive sight up close and the guy has built it really well. It looks all shiny and new at the moment but it has a certain authenticity about it.
It was too early to actually go in, but after 9am the place opens up to visitors (S/.5 I think). We walked around the sides a bit and Fredson (the driver) told us a bit about the construction (one of his relations had helped build it apparently).
The Castillo de Lamas from Afar
So far, so good. So we moved on further into Lamas, closer to the main square. You can see the castle from the centre of town…. Yes, you can certainly see it and, in my opinion, it’s not so pretty from a distance. This is my one problem with the Castillo de Lamas. If it had been built away from the town, up on a hill surrounded by trees, it would be great. Jutting out from one of the region’s most culturally and historically significant settlements is a different story altogether.
According to my driver, the castle is pretty popular with the locals. I guess that’s what matters the most. It’s another attraction to add to those already present in Lamas so it will be good for tourism.
Castillo de Lamas – What Do You Think?
I don’t have any major problems with the castle; it just seems to clash with what Lamas is traditionally about. Anyway, that’s my opinion. If you’ve visited the castle then feel free to add your own opinion in the comments section. It would be interesting to hear what other people think about the Castillo de Lamas….
Once again, nice blog and interesting info on the castle, especially your take on its fitting in or not, etc.
David and Lin
Los Organos, Peru
Having a castle near Tarapoto, is amazing and wonderful at the same time, be a good reason to visit again Lamas, I have heard that this castle is a great site, by other friends of mine who have visited.
I agree that perhaps the castle would have been better on a secluded hill, standing out among the trees.
But why anybody will built a castle in Lamas? Do you know the story?
I’ve never met the owner of Lamas Castle – most of what I know was told to me by the Pizana Express driver who took me to Lamas one day (he grew up there).
According to him, an Italian came to Lamas and bought a piece of land in the town. The locals thought it was kind of strange because the land that he bought had a huge slab of rock right in the middle of it. Obviously, that’s not generally what people look for when buying land. However, the Italian used this slab of rock as part of the foundations for the castle – you can still see the rock emerging from under the castle – quite a nice touch really.
I don’t know why he decided to build the castle. I assume that it was a mix of eccentricity and perhaps a little business sense. The castle is a tourist attraction with an entrance fee, but I doubt that it was built as a money maker. I guess one day I might meet the Italian (it would be good to be able to use a name rather than just “the Italian”) – if I do then I’ll ask him all about it.
In the mean time, if anyone knows more about the construction of Lamas Castle then feel free to post a comment. Especially if you are “the Italian”….
the name of ”the italian” nicola felice, but i don’t know which is the reason for deciding to build the castle. in tarapoto city there is a restauran cafe de mundo i think is the name and the owner is the same italian of the castle, is a excellent restaurant.
Do you happen to know when the lamas castle was built? Or if there are any special rooms?
I’m not too sure when construction began, but it’s certainly modern. Maybe five or six years ago? Could be longer.
Lamas the city is very small but boasts many beautiful landscapes and places. In my view, the Lamas Main Square is the most beautiful in San Martin, perfect weather, a typical neighbor of Lamas called ‘Huayco’ here people live with their costumes for more than 400 years. Surprise! Imposes a beautiful castle on the hill of Lamas, Lamas Castle is a new building that attracts many tourists. A great novelty for me.
Hi Rita, thanks for leaving a comment.
I like the main square in Lamas – the statue is interesting, too. It’s a good place to sit and watch the world go by, and it is a lot cooler up there than down here in Tarapoto!
I have been in Lamas many times before the castle was built. Out of Place. Out of service. Incongruous. I am not sure what the point is other than blending with the plaza statuary of conquest.
Two comments caught my eye:
” it just seems to clash with what Lamas is traditionally about.”
“Out of Place. Out of service. Incongruous. I am not sure what the point is other than blending with the plaza statuary of conquest.”
I agree as an architect and artist that it could be reckoned out of place or more eloquently put ‘clashing’ ” with what Lamas is traditionally about”…. though I wouldn’t know what ‘lamas is traditionally about’, unless we decide which stage is the one we choose, without any right, as ‘traditional’, as Lamas has been populated during centuries by layers of different immigrants, and change has arrived on the form of positive improvements as communication antennas and public lightning with their cables and wires everywhere, why nobody complains about that ‘unfitting’ elements . . . ?
The ‘natives’ that we find on the ‘Huayco or Wayko’ neighborhood are not really ‘natives’ as they arrived only four or five hundred years ago (as natives as Conquistadores to this lands) from the high Andes, actually from the vicinity of Cuzco when their ancestors, rivals of the Incas, were driven away from their traditional lands by Inca Pachacutec. History helps much to understand everything, as Goethe said.
Before the Chancas were forced to that area, the ‘tradition’ was that of the rainforest kingdom of Chachapoyas, a tradition that differed on everything but on their hatred of the military imperialist ‘Incas’ that destroyed older civilizations on a constant war whose effect destroyed them (quite like the ‘Third Reich’ was destroyed by their crazy ambition, and as the Incas were racist to the point of considering themselves ‘descent of the gods, different of commoners, which were just animated objects, less than serfs or slaves’ )
We all might imagine how much people subject to such an awful domination could hate the Incas, and that was the Inca Empire downfall, the hatred of all the cultures they have been stealing everything from ,through military abuse, war is just a collective form of bullying and theft, and the victim sometimes justly reacts.
That is why that sculpture of the Chachapoya Prince greating the spanish Conquistador is on Lamas main square, completely fitting, on place, recalling to posterity that the Chachapoyas and Lamas people fought for their freedom against the Incas supporting the spanish Conquistadores.
Why? well, during the Viceroyalty (Perú was never a ‘colony’, which is like equaling a CEO with a secretary), and the former local nobility was acknowledged their titles and position, on top of commoners, native or european (in Spain a non-noble was called ‘son of nothing’, as opposite to even the least degree of nobility which made one a ‘hidalgo’ literally ‘son of something’) thus the ‘sons of something’ from local cultures, not respected by the Incas, recovered much, position,leadership,lands,and could keep their languages and culture (most peruvians don´t know their own history, a pity indeed)
The sculpture on the main square explained, the ‘traditionally’ of one or other people or style commented ( is the rainforest Chachapoyas culture dating back five thousand years less ‘traditional’ or ‘fitting’ that the more evident style of the Chancas driven there only five hundred years ago?…. or is the more recent Republican style less traditional or fitting because it is only two hundred years old? or is the castle, loved by Lamistas, rainforesty or immigrants less ‘fitting’ then on a land with layers of different styles and cultures? Isn´t much more unfitting to have the same Mac Donald’s or Burger King logo on every city around the world than one small castle on the middle of the rainforest? what about international modernist architectural style tailored on western culture, now present everywhere (yes, on the main square as well but nobody seems to complain, as they are used to it) Aren´t the antennas or electric posts out of place as well, and the traffic lights or paved streets, or should we ban jeans and baseball caps, or are those ‘tradional’ , are tourists what tradition is about. . .? . . . let´s not be so ‘purists’ , probably nothing is ‘traditional’ here but what the Chachapoyas did, but they are long gone, mostly killed by the Incas and some “rescued” by Spain.
The owner´s name is Nicola Felice, he arrived some years ago to San Martín and prospered planting tobacco and making cigars which are quite appreciated on his native Italy, where he exports them. His industry helps many native women from the Huallaga area, as he has a plantation of more than 900 acres there. The castle he made to fulfill one of the dreams he had since his childhood on an area of northern Italy where that style of medieval castles are found. On the other hand, he decided to build something big there to help the people of Lamas get work, to his expense, after the 2005 earthquake shattered most of the town, leveling four hundred years old buildings that have been afterward replaced with modern style, tin roofs and concrete building instead of the ‘traditional’ (that word seems to be loosing consistency I believe)
That is why Nicola`s or, as locals call it “Lamas’ Castle” is so appreciated by the people of Lamas , who are we to criticize what they love? The spanish Inquisition? ¡…! ???
That is quite possibly the best, most thorough comment I’ve ever read. Thanks!
J ‘ai visité Lamas plusieurs fois …et a vraie dire “le château ” m ‘a donne le sentiment que l’ histoire des Lamas est perdu dans la poche d’un immigrant d’italie…. C’est horrible culture et histoire encore une fois imposée .
La vraie culture Lamas ont voie quant ont desscend a Waiko….la pauvreté et contrôle totale d’un peuple hors de la société, indigénes qui sont “forcé par la situation économique” vendre leur terre a moindre prix souvent aux étrangers…
Le château gâche tout ce qui a resté d’ un endroit naturel et l’histoire de ceux qui sont la chez eux!!! Moi je vote pour démenager le château en ITALIE !!!! Merci pour votre reponse…
I was in Lamas a month ago and we went to see the Quechua Lamistas, the Museum Chanka (very informative), the Warmi Wasi Association (where indigenous people share their knowledge in weaving, pottery and jewelry with you), the Fundo Ecoperlacha (to learn about Cacao Production) and we also had a look at the Chateau (from outside).
Obviously it might seem a little odd to have a medieval castle in Lamas, but it didn’t shock me and local people seem to appreciate it being there, so I don’t feel a big problem about it. Like someone said before, Lamas is a great little village with nice restaurants, a great view, less hot than Tarapoto and many things to see. Just go for it !