Ayacucho and its hinterland

The city of Ayacucho, the capital of its Department, is famous for its hugely impressive Semana Santa celebrations, its splendid market and, not least, a plethora of churches - 33 of them no less - giving the city its alternative name La Ciudad de las Iglesias. A week can easily be spent enjoying Ayacucho and its hinterland. The climate is lovely, with warm, sunny days and pleasant balmy evenings. It is a hospitable, tranquil place, where the inhabitants are eager to promote tourism. It also boasts a large, active student population.

Getting there and around

The airport is to the east of the city along Avenida Castilla. Walk half a block down the street from the airport for a bus or
colectivo
to the Plaza Mayor. A new Terminal Terrestre opened in June 2008 in Urbanización Los Artesanos, at the end of Avenida Confraternidad, 10 minutes northwest of the centre. This is a large city but the interesting churches and colonial houses are all fairly close to the Plaza Mayor. Barrio Santa Ana is further away to the south and you will probably want to take a taxi to get to it. Taxis are cheap and mototaxis are plentiful.

Tourist information

iperú
 on the plaza is very helpful. Ask Smith Pariona Medina here (T99-970 5429 mob, agotur_aya@hotmail.com) for guides who work with the
Asociación de Guías e Turismo - Ayacucho (Agotur-A)
. There is a desk at the airport to meet incoming flights and another desk in the Terminal Terrestre.
Dircetur
is also friendly and helpful.

Background

The city was founded on 9 January 1539 by the invading Spaniards, who named it San Juan de la Frontera. This was changed to San Juan de la Victoria after the Battle of Chupas, when the king's forces finally defeated the rival Almagrist power. Despite these Spanish titles, the city always kept its original name of Huamanga. It became an important base for the army of the Liberator Simón Bolívar in his triumphant sweep south from the Battle of Junín. It was here, on the Pampa de Quinua, on 9 December 1824, that the decisive Battle of Ayacucho was fought, bringing Spanish rule in Peru to an end. Huamanga was, therefore, the first city on the continent to celebrate its liberty. In the midst of the massive festivities, the Liberator decreed that the city be named Ayacucho, meaning 'City of Blood'. For much of the 1980s and early 1990s, this title seemed appropriate as the Shining Path terrorized the local populace, severely punishing anyone they suspected of siding with the military. Now, though, peace has returned to this beautiful colonial Andean city.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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