In 1550, the Spanish chronicler Pedro Cieza de León recounted the discovery of several monumental structures approximately 25 km (16 miles) from the city of Huamanga, whose architecture differed from the typical Inca structures. He was describing Wari, the capital of the first Pan-Andean state, from the pre-Inca period (between 600 and 1100 A.D.).
Wari is an example of urban planning using pre-Hispanic engineering techniques. The urban core, which covered some 400 hectares and, at its peak, was home to around 40,000 inhabitants, was strategically located with rapid access to the coast and the inland jungle, where they also established administrative centres and colonies.
Visiting Wari involves exploring the Cheqowasi area, composed of multi-level underground burial chambers with rectangular, circular, and quadrangular mezzanines, which were possibly mausoleums for rulers and nobles.
The Moradochayoq area reveals evidence of close contact with the Tiawanaku, a contemporary civilisation of the Wari, located 1,500 km (932 miles) away in the Lake Titicaca basin.
Another remarkable place is Capillapata, which comprises intersections of trapezoidal and rectangular structures up to 400 metres (1,312 feet) in length, with stone walls more than 10 metres (33 feet) high.
Wari is a relic from mysterious times that we can only imagine today. Traces of its planners, engineers, artisans and priests are recorded in the stones that now guard its secrets.
Location: 22 km (14 miles) from the city of Ayacucho on the road towards Quinua.
Climate: dry and mild.
Average temperature: maximum of 28°C (82°F) and minimum of 6°C (43°F).
Season: the rainy season occurs between December and March.