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To stroll through the city of Huamanga, in Ayacucho, is to experience a profound reencounter with religious fervor on each corner.

With 33 churches in the city, one for every year of Jesus Christ's age, Huamanga is one of the most interesting religious destinations in the Americas and lasting proof of the Christian faith so imbued in Peru's people. Each of these churches -the oldest was built in 1540- houses a relic, a work of art, a legend.

Visitors standing in the main square can admire the majestic Baroque and Renaissance architecture of the Ayacucho Cathedral, built from pink stone in its central section and towers crafted from gray stone blocks. The Cathedral dates back to 1612 and is held to be one of the most beautiful of its kind in Peru for its exquisite inner decoration in the Churriguerra style.

Other churches, like Santo Domingo, which dates from 1548, or San Francisco de Paula, built in 1713, show how the style and taste of its builders evolved: Romantic and Byzantine arches in Santo Domingo, Greco-Roman façades with haut-relief carvings in San Francisco de Asís, Baroque interiors in La Compañía de Jesús -each church in Huamanga has its own personality.

At the same time, the 33 churches in Huamanga house some of the finest works of art to be crafted by Ayacucho artisans: superb altarpieces, carved wood pulpits, heavily decorated altars and hundreds of oil paintings from the various schools of painting that flourished there. A veritable invitation to experience Peru's religious history.

Some of the city's 33 churches lie just a few blocks from the main square, or Plaza de Armas, a good starting point for a tour. Each church has its opening hours, so it is best to get information beforehand.


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