Ayacucho - Peru
Ayacucho is the capital of the Ayacucho
Region in Peru.
The origin of the name Ayacucho is said to come from words in Quechua
that mean "city of the dead".
The city of Ayacucho is located in the central sierra of Peru, 2,761
metres above sea level. It is near three major Peruvian rivers, which
border the northern part of the Department of Ayacucho: the Mantaro,
Pampas and Apurimac. Near the city is the Picimachay Cave, which has
remains more than 15,000 years old. Ayacucho has a current population of
140,500 (2005 estimate), which is an increase from the c. 105,000
measured in the 1993 national census.
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The city was founded in 1539 as San Juan de la Frontera de Huamanga by
Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, who chose the location to bridge
the distance between Lima, and Cusco. The Frontera (border or frontier)
name was an allusion to its then-status as the "last frontier" between
conquered Spanish territory and territory still controlled by Manco
Capac II and his vassals. Years later, following the eventual defeat of
Manco's vassals, the name was changed to San Juan de la Victoria de
During the Peruvian War of Independence, the area surrounding Ayacucho
was the last territory held by the Spaniards. On December 9, 1824, the
Battle of Ayacucho, or "La Quinua", took place at Pampa de La Quinua,
few miles away from Ayacucho, near the town of Quinua. This battle –
between the royalist (Spanish) and nationalist (republican) troops –
sealed the independence of Peru and South America. The nationalist
republican forces were lead by Antonio Jose de Sucre, Bolivar's
lieutenant. The nationalist army defeated the colonial regime, so
Bolivar changed the city's name to Ayacucho. After the battle, Viceroy
Jose de la Serna signed the final capitulation whereby the Spanish
agreed to leave Peru.
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Ayacucho is known as the city of 33 (colonial) churches, such as Santo
Domingo, San Agustin and San Francisco. The oldest churches in the city
were built in the 15th century, and contain Spanish, Latin and Moorish
During the late 1970s, Ayacucho was the site where guerrilla communist
insurgents of the Shining Path, led by Abimael Guzman, started waging
war against the Government of Peru by masterminding some of the worst
terrorist activities in the history of the country.
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