extension and population
historic outline |
Main attractions in the capital |
Main attractions of the department of Ayacucho
Typical dishes and beverages |
EXTENSION AND POPULATION
The department of Ayacucho is located in the south central
Sierra of the Peruvian Andes. With an extension is 44,181
km² (17,050 sq ml), 88% of its territory is located in
the Sierra and the rest is the High Jungle. Its has a population
of over 541,000 people.
The capital is the city
of Ayacucho (although the local people still use the
old name, Huamanga) is located at 2,761 m.a.s.l. (9,000
ft). The climate is mild, dry and invigorating, with an average
temperature of 17.5°C (63.5°F). The rainy season goes
from November through March.
The first vestiges of human presence
in Ayacucho are found in the Pikimachay cave and date from
20,000 BC. Later on, during the formative period, between
1,000 BC and the first years AD, settlers established in Rancha,
Chupas and Wichqana. Between 250 and 500 AD, the Warpa
culture developed, and from the sixth through the twelfth
century the Wari empire flourished, founding its capital
in the Ayacucho region, to later give way to the Chanka
The Incas conquered Ayacucho,
building a provincial administrative center of great importance
in the zone of Vilcashuamán.
When the Spanish arrived, they
founded the city of San Juan de la Frontera, located
between the towns of Quinua and Huamanguillas. However, due
to strategic and climatic reasons, the center was transferred
In December 9, 1824, the Battle
of Ayacucho took place and put an end to the Spanish oppression.
Basilio Auqui and María
Parado de Bellido deserve special mention for their courage
during the struggle for independence. The former, as leader
of the legendary Morochucos, who for many years carried
around the revolutionary flag on horseback, until he suffered
treason and fell. The latter, who preferred torture and to
face the firing squad rather revealing the names of the revolutionary
ATTRACTIONS IN THE CAPITAL
The ancestral colonial mansions
and 38 churches and monasteries in Ayacucho make it
a very attractive city. The Cathedral and churches of Santo
Domingo, San Cristóbal, La Merced, Compañía
de Jesús, San Francisco de Asís, Santa Clara
and Santa Teresa stand out. Their architecture --some date
from 1540-- is remarkable; some were built in Baroque style,
others in Churrigueresque. Besides their rose colored stone,
they also have beautiful altars in fine carved wood and gold
Other attractive sites in Ayacucho
are the casonas or colonial mansions that exist until
today. Apart from the Town Hall and Prefecture, worthwhile
visiting are the casonas of Castilla y Zamora, Chacón,
Velarde Alvarez, Olano, Jaúregui and Vivanco, several
of which were built more than 450 years ago. The patios and
interiors still keep the sumptuous and solid arcades of fine
Santa Ana Quarter. Famous
for the beautiful work of its weavers and potters.
San Juan y Tenería
Quarters. Known for their leather handicrafts.
at 24 km (15 ml) from Ayacucho city, site where the first
men dwelled 20,000 years ago, the oldest settlers in this
part of continent.
Wari. Pre-Inca citadel
at 22 km (13 ml). It was the capital of the Wari empire and,
according to historians, sheltered a population of 5,000 people.
Walls, graves, canals, etcetera, can be still observed.
ATTRACTIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AYACUCHO
At 120 km (75 ml) south of Ayacucho. It was an Inca administrative
center. Outstanding buildings are the Temple of the Sun, Temple
of the Moon, the Ushno or ceremonial pyramid, the plazas,
Intiwatana. Near Vilcashuamán.
An archeological complex with a palace, a tower, the Inca
bath (with a 17-corner stone) and an artificial lagoon.
Tinankayoq. Natural forest
in the road to Vilcashuamán, where the highest plant
in the world is found, the Raimondi puya or Tintanka.
Some of these Raimondi puyas reach up to 12 mt (40
Galeras. National reserve in the province of Lucanas
where the vicuñas are kept in their natural habitat.
Laguna de Parinacochas
is in the province by the same name, this lagoon houses the
parihuanas, birds with red wings and white breasts
that inspired Libertador San Martín to create the Peruvian
San Francisco. Town at
the Jungle edge, distinguished by its tropical climate and
abundant fauna and flora.
Quinua. Town of
potters at 37 km (23 ml) from the capital. It was the site
of the famous Battle of Ayacucho, where the independence
of the country and expulsion of the Spanish troops was confirmed.
Huanta. Gorgeous city
located at 51 km (32 ml) from Ayacucho. The valley is outstanding
for its rich flora and fauna.
DISHES AND BEVERAGES
Similar to other departments of
Perú, Ayacucho has a diversity of dishes that make
the delight of visitors. Among the most solicited are the
puca-picante, a dish with fried meat, pig feet, and
well-seasoned potatoes; also, the mondongo ayacuchano,
which is cooked all night long.
Other attractive dishes are qapchi,
chicharrón, patachi, human caldo
(head broth), cuy-chactado and the pachamanca
To drink, the chicha de jora,
molle or siete semillas are recommended.
January 1 through 8.
Week dedicated to celebrate the New Year and the Fiesta
de la Circuncisión del Señor. In the Templo
de Belén the adoration of the niño is
performed with huaylas and huerajos. In Bajada
de Reyes or Epiphany, the dancing and drinking continue
until provisions are finished.
February 2. Procession
of the Virgen de la Candelaria.
Disguised dancers go on the streets swaying with the cortamontes.
The whole town and guests also participate.
Holy Week. This is one
of the most important religious dates in the country. In Ayacucho
it is an impressive faith act close to a collective drama,
that goes on for a week and with the entire population participating.
On the Friday before Palm Sunday, the commemorations
begin by taking out the image of La Dolorosa. On Palm
Sunday, flowers and palms are blessed at seven in the
morning in the Cathedral. In the afternoon, the procession
of the image of Christ starts by coming out of the temple
of Santa Teresa. The image rides on a small donkey accompanied
by twelve men dressed as the apostles. Simultaneously, at
the main square, people await the arrival of the chamizo
that is to be burnt on Holy Saturday. Other processions
take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Holy Thursday, the temples open their doors for
the people to visit the stations of the cross; and on Good
Friday, after hearing the three-hour sermon, the procession
of the Holy Grave is taken out from Santo Domingo. All these
ceremonies take place in the dark, just with candlelight.
Holy Saturday is a joyful day when bells begin to ring
and the festivals start. On Easter Sunday, the procession
of La Aurora starts at four in the morning as a farewell
to the last shadows of the night with fireworks and skyrockets.
May 3. Worship of the
Cross at Verde Cruz, Molle Cruz, Puca Cruz, Conchopata
August 15. Fiesta de
Nuestra Señora de las Nieves de Parinacochas. Popular
festivity with bullfights and folkloric presentations.
September 14. Fiesta
del Señor de Maynay. Celebrated in Huanta with
a fair, procession and folkloric celebrations.
December 4 through 10. Several
acts commemorating the Battle of Ayacucho, with a parade and
a pageant in the Pampa de la Quinua.