From Glory to Tragedy: The Life and Mysterious Fate of Atahualpa, the Last Inca Emperor

Atahualpa was the last Sapa Inca of the Inca Empire. He was born in Cusco, Peru, in around 1502 to his father, the Sapa Inca Huayna Cápac, and his mother, Tocto Coca, a princess from Quito, Ecuador.

Atahualpa’s father died in 1527, after which Atahualpa’s half-brother Huáscar claimed the throne. A civil war ensued, and Atahualpa eventually emerged victorious. However, his victory was short-lived, as the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Peru in 1532.

Capture and Execution

In November 1532, Atahualpa met with the Spanish leader Francisco Pizarro at the city of Cajamarca. Pizarro had only a small force of soldiers, but he used deception and treachery to capture Atahualpa.

Atahualpa was held captive for several months, during which time he offered Pizarro a ransom of gold and silver to secure his release. Pizarro agreed to the ransom, but he had Atahualpa executed on July 26, 1533, anyway.


Atahualpa’s body was originally buried in the main square of Cajamarca. However, his followers later removed his body and reburied it in a secret location. The exact location of Atahualpa’s grave is unknown to this day.

What Happened with Him and the Spaniards Before His Death?

After Atahualpa was captured by Pizarro, he was held captive for several months. During this time, he was interrogated by the Spaniards about the Inca Empire and its wealth. Pizarro also demanded a ransom of gold and silver for Atahualpa’s release.

Atahualpa agreed to the ransom, and his followers began to gather gold and silver from all over the empire. However, Pizarro became increasingly suspicious of Atahualpa, and he eventually decided to have him executed.

On July 26, 1533, Atahualpa was put on trial by a Spanish court and found guilty of treason and heresy. He was sentenced to death by garrote, and the sentence was carried out immediately.

Theory of His Escape

There is a theory that Atahualpa may have escaped from his Spanish captors in Cajamarca. This theory is based on the fact that Atahualpa’s body was never found in the main square of Cajamarca, where he was originally buried.

According to the theory, Atahualpa’s followers may have disguised him as a commoner and helped him to escape from the city. Atahualpa may then have fled to the mountains, where he lived out the rest of his days in hiding.

There is no evidence to support the theory of Atahualpa’s escape, but it remains a popular legend among some people.


Atahualpa was a complex and tragic figure. He was the last Sapa Inca of the Inca Empire, but he was also the man who was responsible for its downfall. His capture and execution by the Spaniards marked the end of the Inca Empire and the beginning of Spanish rule in Peru.


Leave a Reply