Peru is one of the great originating centres of ancient culture, along with Mexico, Mesopotamia, India, and China. Paleolithic man left his first traces here and began to develop villages of hunters-collectors around 6,000 BC (as seen in Lauricocha, Huanuco). Farming settlements began to form around 2,500 BC, growing manioc, lima beans, quinoa, potatoes, cotton and maize.

The ancient inhabitants of this territory began domesticating animals around 6,000 BC, and to develop farming even earlier in 8,500 BC. This process was simultaneous on the coast, in the Andes and in Amazonia. In fact, the Andean area which we call ancient Peru - where the cultures of Chavin, Tiahuanaco, Cajamarca, Recuay, Moche, Chimu, Lambayeque, Paracas, Chincha, Nasca and Wari developed and were later joined under the Inca Empire, is one of the world's first and greatest agricultural centres and one of the major areas from which universal culture spread, together with Mesopotamia, China, India and Mesoamerica.

The period between 200BC and 600AD is the era of the great centres of regional development. The important cultures are those of Tiahuanaco (Puno), Mochica and Lambayeque (Lambayeque and La Libertad), Nasca and Paracas (Ica). Tiahuanaco is known for its Chullpas or funeral towers at Sillustani (Puno); the Mochica are famous for the Royal Tombs of the Lord of Sipan; the Lambayeque built the pyramids of Tucume; the Nascas made remarkable pottery and drew the mysterious Lines in the desert; and the Paracas wove wonderful textiles.

The Colonial period developed between 1532 and 1821, from which there is a magnificent artistic heritage. Examples include paintings such as those of the so-called Cusco School; architecture as in the Santo Domingo convent in Cusco (built on the ancient Inca temple of Koricancha) and the convent of Santa Catalina in Arequipa. Independence was declared on July 28, 1821 and later consolidated with the victory of the Battle of Ayacucho on December 9, 1824.
Despite its rugged and inhospitable territory, this country is the cradle of highly developed cultures - the most famous being, the Inca civilization. These cultures thrived thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. As time has passed, the archaeological remains of these cultures form the main tourist attractions of the country and they are the reason that millions visit. Because Cuzco was the capital of the Incan Empire, the main archaeological remains are located in and around this city. The highlight for many travellers is Machu Picchu, considered by many to be the 8th wonder of the world. Peru is also home of the Nazca lines etched on its coastal desert, as well as the funerary towers called chullpas near Lake Titicaca.

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