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Towns and Cities

After some time spent in a large metropolitan city, many travellers may be anxious to get out and explore some of the surrounding towns and cities that make up this region. With so much to offer, Peru carries both the appeal of local cities and the simplicity of nearby towns.

Cieneguilla:

Many locals look to escape Lima when seeking some nature and some relaxation from the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan life. Not too far outside of Lima is where one will find the suburban district of Cieneguilla. The main way to reach this district is through the highway emanating from La Molina District. The appeal to Cienguilla is the lush landscapes that surround the area and the Lurin river valley that has thankfully not been influenced by the overcrowding population of Lima. Nature abounds in this region with wild life, green valleys and beautiful scenery to inspire even the best city dwellers.

Chosica:

Chosica, another quaint town nearby, is also frequently visited by those looking to find some peace and quiet. Located in the Lurigancho District, Chosica has breathtaking views and is located at only a short distance from the central point of Lima. Many people prefer to frequent this small town and enjoy some of the natural sunlight that is not affected by Lima’s overwhelming fog.This is a great place to take some time for rest or indulge in other leisure activities.

 

The Trans-Andean railroad that was built back in the 19th century also adds to the allure of this charming spot. Known as the “ Villa of the Sun”, for its dry and warm weather, spectators can relax and take in the views of the majestic mountains before heading back to the city. This is a great day trip for those who are looking to reach out to the natural surroundings.

Pisco:

Pisco is a city located in the Ica Region of Peru, the capital of the Pisco Province. With a population of about 116,000 people this large city rests about 9 meters above sea level. Originally the villa of Pisco was founded in 1640, close to the indigenous emplacement of the same name. Pisco is a Quechua word that actually means "bird." This town prospered due to the local vineyards and is the namesake of the Peruvian grape liquor, pisco.
The concentration of birds and marine animals located at the Pracas National Reservation or the Peruvian Galapagos is a grand attraction that brings in both tourists and locals. The reserves at the Ballestas Islands are closed to the public, but boat tours to get close. The Chincha islands are also relatively nearby where tourists can spy many bird species including pelicans, penguins, cormorants, Peruvian boobies and Inca terns. There are sea lions, turtles, dolphins and whales that is a great appeal while visiting.

An additional allure to the area is the Paracas Candelabra, a giant lamp dug in the rough sand in the method use by the creators of the Nazca Lines. There are unknown reasons and the theories vary as to why they were created. There is division as to the authenticity of the lines.
The Paracas culture was one of the major ancient civilizations in Peru and was a great influence on the origin of Pisco. Pisco, due to its locations and easy access to the crossroads in the Andes, Pisco was almost named the capital prior to Lima.

The Plaza de Armas is located in the center of the city where many people hang out and buy local delicacies such as tejas, pecans and assorted dried fruits. Surrounding the Plaza are monuments such as the statue of Jose de San Martin, the mansion he lived in, and the Municipal Palace. Pisco is a charming city with much to offer to those looking for both culture and charm.

Ica:

Ica is the capital of the Ica Region located in the southern area of Peru. Founded in 1563 by the Spanish conquistador Geronimo Luis de Cabrera, it has grown over the centuries reaching a population of about 219,000 people. In 2007, a large earthquake hit the region and Ica suffered greatly in extensive damage and loss of life. The surrounding areas outside of Ica are the traditional source of the Pisco brandy. The Museo Regional de Ica, a local museum is a great attraction with many fascinating exhibits. One interesting display is the pre-Columbian mummies with elongated heads bearing ebidence of trepanning.

 

There are many artefacts dating back to the Spanish colonial era with furniture and paintings reflecting the culture at that time. This region is especially important for its agriculture and the growth of grapes, cotton, asparagus, olives and other produce. Known as the land of the sun to the locals, the warm dry climate brings a summer feeling, all year round. Ica is a lovely town to visit with beautiful weather and a charming culture.

Nazca:

Nazca (sometimes spelled Nasca) is the name of a system of valleys strewn out through the southern coast of Peru and is also the name of the region’s largest existing town. The Nazca culture also reigned over the region between the area of 300 BC and 800 AD. This culture is responsible for the Nazca Lines and the fascinating ceremonial city of Cahuachi. This amazing culture was also responsible for the system of underground aqueducts that are still in working function today.

Since 1997, Nazca has been the location of a major Canadian gold mining operation. For the previous 2000 years the people who were living on the land did not have actual title and were displaced without legal problems. Since that time there have been several attempts to legalize poor citizen’s ownership of their land and their property.

Perhaps the biggest draw to the town of Nazca is the intriguing Nazca lines that can be found throughout the region. The Nazca Lines are an engima. No one has proof who built them or why. Since their discovery, the Nazca Lines have inspired fantastic explanations from ancient gods, a landing strip for returning aliens, or a celestial calendar created by the ancient Nazca civilization. It is thought that between 200 BC and 600 AD the Nazca culture created these designs. There appear to be various designs consisting of figures of animals, flowers and plants, objects, and anthropomorphic figures of colossal proportions made with well-defined lines. These designs are best seen from the air. Chartered aircrafts take tourists up in the air to gaze at this ancient mystery.

Huaraz:

Huaraz, the capital of the Huaraz Province and of the Ancash Region has a population of 100,000 people. The seat of the regional government of Ancash is found here in Huaraz. With a location in the central-northern part of the country, it lays at an altitude of 3052 meters and about 420 km north of Lima. Located at the foot of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range, Huaraz provides beautiful views of the snow-capped mountains that can be seen nearby. The highest mountain in Peru, Huascaran, is located here in this mountain range. This lovely village was founded in 1574 by Alonso de Santoyo and is filled with narrow streets and large adobe casonas roofed with tiles. In the main square only one major structure survived the major earthquake of 1970.

 

The earthquake killed 10,000 people and many houses and local smaller structures were destroyed. Huascarán National Park is a popular destination for tourism and trekking. Huaraz is a frequent base for expeditions to the Cordillera Blanca and Huayhuash. In the streets surrounding the farmers' market, the paraditas (street markets) of local sellers offer craft products such as alpaca textiles (carpets, sweaters, etc.), cuarteados (a typical dessert from Caraz made by mixing manjarblanco and fruit cake), boxes of manjarblanco, butter, cheese, honey, smoked and salty hams, etc.

Ayacucho:

Located in the province of the Huamanga, you will find the city of Ayacucho. With a population of 93, 033 within the city and an additional 140, 230 in the surrounding area, the name is derived from quechua (death) and (outback).


Ayacucho is a beautiful city and is most famous for the number of towering churches and religious celebrations during Holy Week. Celebrations include horse races and the traditional running of the bulls.
About 25 km north of Ayacucho is the cave site of Pikimachay. Vestiges of human settlements were found here that are more than 15,000 years old. During the 6th and 12th centuries the Huari Culture came to occupy the region and soon expanded the empire known in the Andes before the Incas.
The history of Ayacucho is quite interesting. Led by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the modern colonial establishment soon took over the town of Ayacucho. The Incan rebellion against the Spanish did little to stop Pizarro from conquering the area and populating the region with a small number of Spaniards brought over from Lima and from Cusco.


On May 17, 1544, by Royal decree Ayacucho received its title of "La Muy Noble y Leal Ciudad de Huamanga" and on February 15, 1825, by decree of Simón Bolívar, the city's name was changed to the original "Ayacucho".

The city is named after the historical Battle of Ayacucho when upon seeing so many casualties on the battlefield, the settlers named the area Ayakuchu, aya meaning "soul" or "dead" and kuchu meaning "corner" in the Quechua language. This battle was the last strong fight between the Spanish and the local patriots during the Peruvian War of Independence.
The handicrafts of Ayacucho, some of the best of Peru, are admired all over the world. Its reredoses with every-day-life scenes are popular (made of alabaster with lime figures), the wooden crosses with the symbols of the passion of the Christ, the fine weaving of alpaca and vicuña wool, the stone sculptures of Huamanga and the jewellery in silver filigree.

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