12 Best Sights in Ayacucho, The Central Highlands

Ruinas Huari

Fodor's choice

Recent excavations at this massive archaeological site have uncovered multilevel underground galleries, burial chambers, circular plazas, arched portals, and other architectural magnificences. Together they make this capital city of the Huari culture one of the most impressive non-Inca ruins in the Peruvian sierra. The Huari flourished from around 700 to 1200 AD, and wandering the quiet alleys of this 5,000-acre complex gives you a sense of how its 60,000 residents lived, worshipped, and died. Especially noteworthy are the temples and communal tombs. There's a small museum on-site with mummies and ceramics, as well as a lounge to rest in after roaming the cactus-covered grounds. The best way to visit is to take a tour from a travel agency in town for S/30, as taxis andcollectivos to the site are sporadic and hard to figure out.

Vilcashuamán and Intihuatana

Fodor's choice

Four long hours south of Ayacucho on winding, unpaved roads is the former Inca provincial capital of Vilcashuamán, set where the north–south Inca highway crossed the east–west trade road from Cusco to the Pacific. You can still see the Templo del Sol y de la Luna and a five-tiered platform, known as the Ushnu, crowned by an Inca throne and surrounded by stepped fields once farmed by Inca peasants. An hour's walk from Vilcashuamán (or a half-hour's walk south past the main road from Ayacucho) is the Intihuatana, where Inca ruins include a palace and tower beside a lagoon. Former Inca baths, a Sun temple, and a sacrificial altar can also be seen on the grounds. Check out the unusual, 13-angled boulder, one of the odd building rocks that are an Inca hallmark. Ayacucho travel agencies can organize tours of both sites (S/65), or you can catch a bus or colectivo for S/15–S/20. Ask around to confirm where these public transport options are leaving from, as pickup points change frequently.

Casa Museo Joaquín López Antay

Joaquín López Antay was Ayacucho's most renowned maker of retablos; this lovely museum pays homage to his work. Biographical displays, explications of the retablo- making process, and on-site classes make this a must-visit for art lovers. You can also buy finished works in the museum shop.

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Casa Ruiz de Ochoa

Across from the Iglesia Merced, one block from the Plaza de Armas, you'll see the colonial-style Casa Ruiz de Ochoa. The intricate, 18th-century doorway mixes European and indigenous techniques in a style known as Mestizo. Climb up to the second floor for a bird's-eye view of the cobbled patio.


The twin bell towers of Ayacucho's catedral, built in 1612 under Bishop Don Cristóbal de Castilla y Zamora, crown the Plaza de Armas. Step inside to view the cathedral's carved altars with gold-leaf designs, a silver tabernacle, and an ornate wooden pulpit, all built in a style mixing baroque and Renaissance elements. Look for the plaque inside the entrance that quotes from Pope John Paul II's speech during his visit in 1985.

Iglesia Santo Domingo

The 1548 Iglesia Santo Domingo is now a national monument. The first bells ringing out Peru's independence from the Spanish after the Battle of Ayacucho were sounded from here. The church's facade features Churrigueresque architectural elements, a style of baroque Spanish architecture popular in the 16th century, while the interior is coated in pan de oro (gold leaf).

La Compañía de Jesús

You can't miss the striking red trim on the baroque-style exterior of this 17th-century Jesuit church. The towers were added a century after the main building, which has religious art and a gilt altar.

Museo Cáceres

Located in the Casona Vivanco, a 17th-century mansion, the Museo Cáceres was once the home of Andrés Cáceres, an Ayacucho resident and former Peruvian president best known for his successful guerrilla leadership during the 1879–83 War of the Pacific against Chile. This is one of the city's best-preserved historic buildings, which today houses a mix of military memorabilia and ancient local artifacts, including stone carvings and ceramics. Note the gallery of colonial-style paintings. The Museo de Arte Religioso Colonial can also be found within these storied walls, and exhibits antique objects from the city's early days.

28 de Julio 508, Ayacucho, Peru
Sight Details
Rate Includes: S/4, S/2, Closed Sun.

Museo de Arqueología y Antropología Hipólito Unánue

Regional finds from the Moche, Nazca, Ica, Inca, Chanka, Chavín, Chimu, and Huari cultures are on display here, at the Centro Cultural Simón Bolívar. Highlights of the archaeology and anthropology museum include ceremonial costumes, textiles, everyday implements, and even artwork from some of the area's earliest inhabitants. The museum is locally referred to as Museo INC.

Museo de la Memoria

Designed and run by a women's nonprofit in Ayacucho, this small but moving museum recounts the atrocities of the Sendero Luminoso era from the perspective of the local peasantry. The walls feature folk-art depictions of the violence, as well as photographs of the conflict's victims. The exhibit detailing the tortures and mass graves at the nearby Los Cabitos military base is chilling.

Palacio del Marqués de Mozobamba

Built in 1550 and now part of the cultural center for San Cristobal de Huamanga University, the Palacio del Marqués de Mozobamba is one of the oldest mansions in Peru. The colonial-era, baroque-style architecture includes portales (stone arches) in front and a monkey-shaped stone fountain in the courtyard. On the left side as you enter, you'll see the remains of Inca stone walls discovered during restorations in 2003.


Also known as the Boza and Solís House, the Prefectura is tucked into a two-story, 1748 casona histórica (historic mansion). Local independence-era heroine María Prado de Bellido was held prisoner in the Prefectura's patio room until her execution by firing squad in 1822. The balcony opens out onto a lovely view of the Plaza de Armas.