Iruya is a small town of population 1,070 in northwestern Argentina. It is located in the Salta Province of northwestern Argentina, and is the capital of the Iruya Department. Located in the altiplano region along the Iruya River, Iruya sits nestled against the mountainside at an elevation of 2,780 meters (9,120 feet). It is located over 300 kilometers (190 mi) from the province capital of Salta. A 50 km (31 mi) portion of the route to Iruya is unpaved. Nonetheless, the town is popular with tourists for its scenic location and townscape and friendly locals.
Iruya is situated almost 350 kilometers away from Salta City that seems to be hanging from the mountains and suspended in time and stands on a promontory in the valley of the Iruya river. The road to Iruya has thousands of breathtaking landscapes. The town keeps its steep, narrow streets paved with stones and the thatched houses as well as the customs and clothes of 250 years ago. In its environs you can find the pre-Columbian ruins of Titiconte. One of its main attractions are the religious celebrations, like the celebration of the Pachamama, where the pagan and the sacred are mixed.
Road to Iruya
Close to the Quebrada de Humahuaca, Iruya is a remote town with a well-preserved indigenous culture. Buses from the town of Humahuaca crawl up winding gravel roads through high mountain passes and valleys to get here. Visitors can wander along the
town’s steep cobblestone streets among adobe houses and meet locals in traditional attire. There is trekking in the hills and surrounding villages like Colanzulí and San Isidro are worth a visit too.. 8 km north of Iruya there is the village of San Isidro, 7 km north there is the village of San Juan, 6 km south there is the village of Pueblo Viejo.
Iruya's name is derived from the Quechua language, meaning "abundance of straw".
Iruya was officially founded in 1753, but the first inhabitants settled here around 100 years earlier. They were mainly Indians of which the oldest roots go back to the Ocloyas, a people belonging to the ethnic group of the Kolla who stem from the Kollasuyo, which used to be one of the four regions of the Inca empire
Iruya was a passing-through town, because here rested the convoys and mule trains that carried goods from the Puna to the Valley of the river San Francisco and vice versa. Its foundation date is not known, but some sources indicate that it was founded in 1741. The crop terraces in the nearness of the town are very interesting. At 6 miles, through dangerous gorges and mountains with abrupt slopes, the pre-Columbian town of Titiconte is situated.