Ayacucho, Peru

Arguably Peru’s most enticing Andean city after Cuzco, Ayacucho is well worth a visit. It has retained its colonial atmosphere more than most Peruvian cities, and colonial buildings and churches dominate the town’s skyline. The city overflows during the Semana Santa celebrations, which are easily the most colorful yet most devout in Peru. As yet Ayacucho does not have a large traveler presence and this is due largely to its fairly tenuous links with other Andean towns to the north and south. But it is nonetheless a popular destination for Peruvians who, apart from Semana Santa, come for the town’s bracing mountain air, its numerous archaeological attractions and its excursions in the surrounding mountains.

The central Andes is one of Peru’s least-visited areas. Ayacucho is no exception to this. Its first road link with the Peruvian coast was not finished until 1924 and in 1960 there were only two buses and a few dozen vehicles in the city. The paving of the road to Lima, completed in 1999, has turned Ayacucho to face the 21st century, but without forgetting its storied past.

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