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Since 20,000 BCE


This small city is a great base for visiting the surrounding Andes. Its history includes roots for both the Quechua and Wari cultures. During colonial times, it was named “San Juan de la Frontera de Huamanga” from 1540–1825. It is famous as the site of the 1824 battle when the Spanish army was defeated, solidifying the independence that Peru had claimed in 1821.

In town

Walk down the historic Calle 28 de Julio to the market. You’ll pass under an arch built to commemorate a battle on 2 May 1886 when Andean forces beat the Spanish army in their war for independence. Also visit the San Cristóbal Church, the oldest church in Ayacucho. The Santa Teresa monastery is also a beautiful spot to visit.

Cave of Pikimachay

Just 40 minutes north of Ayachucho is the cave of Pikimachay, where the oldest evidence of human habitation in Peru was found. Late American archeologist Richard MacNeish found evidence of people and tools dating back to 20,000 BCE.

Wari Archeological Complex

Only 45 minutes north of town is the Wari Archeological Complex. You can visit the archeological site as well as the nearby Wari museum (open 9am-5pm except Monday).

Pampa de Ayacucho

Only 15 minutes farther north from the Wari Archeological Complex is the Pampa de Ayacucho. This is a memorial that commemorates the battle of 9 December 1824, which was an important part of Peru’s independence from Spain.


The best way to get to Ayacucho is to fly there. There are several flights a day from Lima to Ayacucho’s Coronel FAP Alfredo Mendívil Duarte Airport. It’s a 12 and a half hour drive from Cusco or a 7 hour drive from Ica.

>1200: Pre-Inca Times

Ayacucho & Andahuaylas

Text © Heather Jasper

Image by David Almeida