Ayacucho is the capital city of Ayacucho Region and of Huamanga Province, Ayacucho Region, Peru. During the Inca Empire and Viceroyalty of Peru periods the city was known by the name of Huamanga (Quechua: Wamanga), and it continues to be the alternative name of the city. The city’s name was officially changed to Ayacucho after a major victory of the revolutionary army led by Bolívar’s lieutenants against the royalists.
Ayacucho is famous for its 33 churches, which represent one for each year of Jesus’ life. Ayacucho has large religious celebrations, especially during the Holy Week of Easter. These celebrations include horse races featuring Peruvian Caballos de Paso and the traditional running of the bulls, known locally as the jalatoro or pascuatoro. The jalatoro is similar to the Spanish encierro, except that the bulls are led by horses of the Morochucos.
Throughout Colonial times the city was known as Huamanga, becoming Ayacucho (Quechua for ‘corner of the dead’) in honour of a decisive battle of independence fought in nearby Quinua in 1824.
Ayacucho (or Huamanga, as it was then) was a successful Colonial city owing to its temperate altitude of 2,750 m (9,023 ft), pleasant climate and fertile surroundings.
This is reflected in the establishment of Huamanga University in 1677, numerous imposing old buildings in the city centre … and abundant Colonial churches. Locals claim there are 33 of them (one for each year of Christ’s life) leading to the nickname ‘the city of churches’.
Vestiges of human settlements more than 15,000 years old have been found in the site of Pikimachay, about 25 km north of Ayacucho. From 500 to 900, the region became occupied by the Wari culture, which became known as the first expansionist empire based in the Andes before the Inca Empire