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It is said that a thousand churches line the streets of Huamanga.
But the truth is that in the capital of the department of Ayacucho, there is practically a church on every street corner: there are 33 in all, built in Huamanga during colonial times, each of them with their own history, their own art, their own personality.
Founded by Spanish Conqueror Francisco Pizarro in 1539, the old city of San Juan de la Frontera de Huamanga (Saint John of the Frontier of Huamanga) features countless attractions for the tourist, and is the ideal starting point to explore the rest of the department. Just 22 km north of the city, for example, lies the Wari citadel, capital of the Wari civilization that flourished in the southern Andes from 500-1100 AD and which once was home to a population of 50,000.
Travelers can also visit the Inca ruins of Vilcashuaman and the scenic Lake Parinacochas, a haven for thousands of flamingos.Easter week in Ayacucho is worth a separate mention, as it is possibly the most spectacular and emotive version of the Christian holiday in Peru. Daily processions, carpets of flower petals and ritual re-enactments are just some of the ways the Ayacucho townsfolk express their Christian devotion. During the five-day celebration, visitors can taste traditional fermented maize beverages such as Chicha de Jora, Chicha de Molle or Chicha de Siete Semillas.
At the end of the celebrations, visitors can buy some of the traditional retablos (small portable altars which represent scenes of everyday life in the Peruvian Andes), figures sculpted from the white Huamanga stone, or any of the different traditional arts and crafts made by Ayacucho artisans, to cap off an unforgettable week in the City of Churches.
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