Nearly cut off from the rest of the country during the years of terrorism, Ayacucho (Population 92,123, 2760 meters in altitude) the tourist center has now been freed. There is no more danger of coming here than anywhere else in Peru. The city is home to some of the most elaborate religious festivities. The handicrafts in town and in the nearby town of Quinua are some of the most spectacular in the country. Not to mention more colonial churches and architecture than you can count. The vibrant feel of this city of old is slowly returning and it will be hard to predict just what this rebirth will bring to the central highlands.
Ayacucho History Human remains have been found in the area around Ayacucho, notably at Piquimachay cave, dating back to about 20,000 years ago. They are the earliest evidence of human activity ever found in South America and date to the Stone Age. From 500-1100 AD the Wari culture established a solid civilization from this their capital. The Chankas and the Incas would later overtake the area. The Spaniards founded the modern day city in 1539 and called it San Juan de la Frontera de Huamanga, however, Simon Bolivar changed the name in 1824 to Ayacucho, or “City of Blood,” during the war for Peruvian Independence. In the 1980’s and early 90’s, the Shining Path Guerillas made the city their own and practically cut it off from the rest of the country. With the days of terrorism long gone, Ayacucho is slowly being restored to its original splendor and bringing back the tourist dollars that have been missing for far too long.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.