Points of interest in and around Ayacucho
The 17th century cathedral on the main plaza is one of at least a dozen colonial churches that boast beautiful, ornate stone work interiors and facades and carved wood alters and retablos covered in gold leaf. The churches of Santo Domingo, San Cristóbal, Compañía de Jesús, San Francisco de Asís, Santa Clara and Santa Teresa are all within walking distance of the plaza. Colonial mansions for the most part now serve as municipal offices and administration centers for the state university, but they are generally open to tourists.
Santa Ana Barrio
is Ayacucho’s district famous for its artisans who specialize in woven tapestries and ceramics. In Barrios de San Juan y Tenería, the specialty is leatherworks.
located 15 miles (24km) from the city, was a human settlement dating back more than 20,000 years.
The Huari ruins
14 miles (22km) from Ayacucho, are the remnants of a pre-Inca capital city that historians believe was home to 50,000 inhabitants. The ruins include retaining walls, tombs and canals, as well as a small museum of artifacts.
A little more than a mile (2km) farther up the road from Huari lies Quinua, an artisan town of red-tiled roof houses, each topped with a small ceramic church to ward off evil spirits. Along the main road into town is an open air artisan market and food stalls where deep fried pork ribs and guinea pig, known as “cuy,” are served with potatoes and giant kernel corn. Stone steps leads to the main cobblestone plaza, surrounded by whitewashed buildings and the town church.
Vilcashuamán, or “Sacred Falcon”
located 74 miles (120km) south of Ayacucho was considered the geographic administrative center of the Inca Empire. It lies at the crossing of the Inca trail that connected Cusco and the coast and the Inca highway that spanned the spine of the Andes. A parish church now sits atop the magnificent base of a Sun Temple. Nearby is an “usnu” or five-tiered pyramid, topped by a huge double throne carved from stone.