Hacienda San Jose was built at the end of the XVII century. It used to be one of the main haciendas across the Peruvian coast. Not just because of its important sugarcane production but also for the number of slaves that worked there who turned it into the most prosperous plantation at that time. Nowadays it is used as a tourist hotel and resort, where many histories and vestiges show how Afro-Peruvian immigrants used to live in this part of Peru. However, in all honesty, it is not what is in the Hacienda or what surrounds it that makes it such an interesting place, it’s what is below the Hacienda that is simply amazing!
After entering a secret hidden staircase going down some tiny and narrow stairs, you’ll go underneath the Hacienda to find an underground secret slave tunnel, connecting Hacienda San Jose with four other Haciendas in the region, and connecting them all to the port about 17 km away.
What’s the story behind these slave tunnels?
By the XVIII century, the Hacienda had vast quantities of land where they grew good quality cotton and sugar so needed cheap labour and therefore paid for slaves to come from Africa and forced them to work the land, picking cotton and other agricultural products. Slavery was legal in Peru at that time, and to avoid paying import taxes to the government, the Hacienda owners created an underground tunnel linking the house to the port. Slaves would arrive late at night to be smuggled into the hacienda via the underground tunnel, meaning that the government would have no registration of the slaves in its system and the tax could be avoided. Due to a big number of thieves and pirates sailing the Pacific Ocean, the secret slave tunnels were therefore expanded to create a number of secret escape routes throughout the house, linking the owner’s bedroom, the local church, and various other rooms with the tunnel system beneath. In the church, the tabernacle – a box-like vessel normally used for storing bread and wine for the consecrated Eucharist – opened up to be used as a secret entrance to the tunnels.
When Ramon Castilla abolished slavery these tunnels where used as burial places for some of the workers who died on the land or from the punishments dealt out by some of their notorious owners. In the 2007 Pisco and Chincha earthquake a new entrance to the underground tunnels was discovered after part of the floor collapsed. Two groundwater deposits were also revealed.
|Secret slave tunnels tour|
|Regular Price||With Peru Hop|
|S/.35 soles (without transport)||FREE|