The city of Ayacucho (originally known as Huamanga, as it still appears in some documents) is located in the north-westernmost part of the department of the same name, nestled in the south of the Peruvian Sierra. The (second and definitive) city's Spanish foundation dates back to 1540, when it was named as San Juan de la Frontera de Huamanga. Following the historical Battle of Ayacucho, in 1825 its name was changed to Ayacucho by Simón Bolivar. About 25 km to the north of the city lies the archaeological site of Piquimachay, where there were found the oldest remains of human settlements in the Central Andes (20.000 BC). The region was inhabited by the Wari/Huari culture (500-1100 AD), and as this culture started to weaken it started to lose territories to local cultures such as the Pocras/Pacoras, the Chancas, the Willcas, the Andamarcas and several societies grouped under the name "Chanca Culture" (1100-1420 AD). This confederation of peoples competed with the Incas, but they eventually fell to Pachacutec (Pachakutiq) Inca around 1438. In this region the Incas built the administrative-religious complex of Vilcashuamán, whose remains (especially those of the ushnu or ceremonial pyramid) can still be seen in the grounds. Between 1532 and 1537 Manco Inca Yupanqui (the first of the so-called "Incas of Vilcabamba") led a failed rebellion against the Spanish.
Commercial caravans were central to life in the early city; Huamanga was strategically located in a crossroads between Lima and Huancavelica, and Cusco, Alto Peru (present day Bolivia) and the Rio de la Plata. In addition there were a few textile factories (obrajes) that usually employed several poeple in the weaving of cheap fabrics. And the nearby mercury mine of Santa Bárbara (Huancavelica) had its headquarters in the city. Numerous buildings still testify to the important commercial role that played the city during the viceroyalty period. The old part of the city is full of churches, monasteries and large colonial houses in an Andean baroque style; no wonder Ayacucho is known as "the city of the churches" or "the majestic city".
In 1990 the Institute of National Culture (INC) declared Ayacucho to be "Capital of Folk Art and Crafts of Peru". Ayacucho craftwork (which can be seen in their manufacture in the neighbourhoods of Santa Ana, Puca Cruz and Belén) incorporates both pre-Hispanic and colonial elements and includes retablos (portable colourful boxes which depict religious, historical, or everyday events), sculptures in "Huamanga stone" (local alabaster), and silverware. The broad category folk art includes music, dance, folklore, etc, and within the former is worth mentioning the Ayacucho's guitar technique, which has had greatest influence in the Peruvian Andean guitar.
Picture 01. Retablo (portable papier maché nativity scene in colourful wooden box) from Ayacucho.
Picture 02. Silverware from Ayacucho.
Picture 03. Alabaster figures from Ayacucho.
Picture 04. Ayacucho view.
Picture 05. Ayacucho night view.
Picture 06. Colonial Ayacucho.
Picture 07. Ayacucho church.
Picture 08. Ayacucho streets.