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Churches Cusco

Churches of Cusco

The monumental Cusco, largely emerged after the 1650 earthquake, is undoubtedly one of the most valuable sets of American pre-Columbian and it has as principal component its religious buildings. Four emblematic works of architectural art in Cusco, the Cathedral, the Company, Santo Domingo and La Merced Convent, allow us to appraise the uniqueness and importance of churches in the city.


Here are the most important churches of Cusco :

Cathedral of Cusco
According to history, during the Inca time, the main square of Qosqo  was surrounded by the Inca´s palaces, built to house theirs "panakas" or extended royal families, one of those palaces was the Kiswarkancha belonging to Inka Wiraqocha that in its eastern  side had a circular shaped building called "Suntur Wasi" that was like a house of weapons and shields on these two primitive buildings it is located the present Cathedral and its two smaller chapels.

Cusco Cathedral

After the Spanish founded the city in 1534, they decided also to choose the place for the construction of the church, a place that corresponded to the "Suntur Wasi", where it was built the ancient church that was small. Subsequently the needs of worship forced them to acquire the surrounding areas close to the church for the construction of the present Basilica Cathedral that began in 1560, over an area of nearly 4 000 square meters, with original designs made by the architect Juan Miguel de Veramendi. The Ecclesiastical Council of the City previously agreed to transport the stones of Sacsayhuaman "fortress" for the work. Ordering the demolition of Saqsaywaman to use the andesite stones from its main walls in the building of the cathedral that was culminated in 1654, after 94 years of construction with delays and different inconveniences. It was designed and supervised by architects and Hispanic priests, but executed with the work, sweat, tears and blood of the descendants of the Incas.

The Cathedral is without doubt one of the most remarkable monuments of America Colonial, its structure is essentially Renaissance, its interior plant made with the Latin cross stile, with cruises that connect the church with its two lateral chapels: the "Church of Triumph "to the east and the" Church of the Holy Family "westward. The Cathedral has three naves: the middle one, the" epistle "and" Gospel Ship "to the west. To visit the monument the entrance is through the door of the "Church of Triumph" which is precisely the same place where the primitive church built on the "Suntur Wasi. It is known that three years after the arrival of Hispanic invaders, Manko Inka started the war to regain his State. Qosqo was cited and there was a time when the conquerors were almost completely defeated, all gathered within the "Suntur Wasi" Catholic tradition holds that at precisely that moment made her appearance the Virgin of Descencion who fell from sky and made the miracle of giving strength and lucidity to the conquistadores to emerge victorious. Moreover, the Catholic tradition has also appeared in such circumstances the apostle James who rode his horse and began to kill the Quechuas (Santiago is the patron of Spain and is known as "Killer of Moors" while here as "killer of- Indians "), with the help of these two deities they could emerge triumphant. That is the reason why it is called "Church of Triumph", the triumph of Spanish on Quechua, the triumph of Catholicism over the Inka religion. Outside, on the façade, on both sides of the entrance are carved in stone inscriptions dated in 1664 recounting miracles. The church has three aisles, six altarpieces carved cedar wood and gilded with gold leaf highlighting the first right which is quite large baroque and holding a Crucifix in bulk almost perfect, also has two neoclassical altarpieces made in plaster. In the central part of the church is the altar carved entirely out of granite  work that was quite complicated, it is golden in parts and in its upper part package contains the image of the Virgin of Descención " ; at the bottom has a wooden cross known as the "cross of conquest" that brought Vicente Valverde from Spain and that was the first Christian cross in the Tawantinsuyo.


Company of Jesus
Originally initiated in the late sixteenth century, the church was almost completely demolished by the earthquake of 1650, rebuilt and finally completed 18 years later.
Like the Cathedral, the Company also built on the site of an ancient palace of Inca Huayna Capac (said to be the most beautiful of all the Inca rulers' palaces).

Company of Jesus Church

Company of Jesus is one of the best examples of colonial Baroque architecture in the Americas. Inside, it is rather gloomy, but the golden altar is impressive, especially when it is illuminated. The altarpiece of gold, decorated with columns crowned, has an ancient image of the Virgin and a group of Transfiguration attributed to the Flemish Jesuit Diego de la Puente.
The Company has several other important works of art, including an image of St. Ignatius of Loyola by the local painter Marcos Zapata, and Crucifixion of Christ of Burgos, near the main altar. Note also the paintings on both sides of the entrance, representing the marriage of St. Ignatius nephews. One particular example of Peru's mestizo character, representing the granddaughter of Manco Inca married the man who captured the last Inca leader, Tupac Amaru.


Santo Domingo
The most remarkable aspect about this building is the perfect adaptation to the primal Inca temple reached by the builders. And this is confirmed clearly in how the vault arises the prehispanic building wall curvature. Above it stands a Spanish archway, apparently used as an eventually open chapel. In the rest of the temple, the strength of the stone walls seeks to combine the grandeur of this ancient and sacred place.

Santo Domingo Church

The bell tower was built between 1729 and 1731 and is one of the few buildings of importance in Cusco dated during eighteenth century.

The two outer covers are classic, and it is possible that they keep in great part the original design. Its spiral columns, richly carved, show a marked late baroque and relate to the cover of Jesus Maria, who may belong to the same author.

As for the colonial period is notable for having a Renaissance façade and a fine collection of paintings from the Cuscquenian School.


La Merced
One of the oldest congregations in Cusco City is the Order of the Mercedarias. Founded in 1223 by St. Peter Nolasco, it is known that this religious community was linked to Diego de Almagro, Pizarro's partner and rival, hence, when he embarked on his expedition to Chile  took with him two chaplains from t, Fray Anis congregation Fray Antonio de Almansa and Fray Antonio de Solis.

La Merced Church

The foundation of the church and La Merced convent are attributed to Rina Sebastián de Castañeda, in 1535. For both constructions, it was chosen donated land by the Marquis Francisco Pizarro.

Inside the church there is a large gallery and two relatively narrow corridors leading to the main altar. This is from neoclassic style, it has six solid Corinthian columns and in the middle of the altar there is an image of Our Lady of Mercy. Towards the bottom there are other altars on which lie different images, among them, the Lord of Huanca and the Cross del Padre Urraca, covered with silver plates. Moreover, here we find the image of the Lord of Tambo de Montero, according to tradition was whipped every Friday night byt Jewish people of Cusco


Santa Catalina
After the terrible experience of seeing the monastery founded in Arequipa, in 1599,  destroyed by the volcano Waynaputina, Lucia Isabel Rivera de Padilla founded in Cusco, the Monastery of St. Catherine in 1601. It was then when the Bishop Antonio de la Raya gave her a privileged site on which they had built the house acllahuasi or the Virgins of the Sun.

Santa Catalina Church

Its first building completed at 1643, the year in which the altarpiece was completed assembly by Martin de Torres. But the earthquakes of 1650 destroyed this temple and had to rebuild it entirety. The opportunity was used to change the design of the plant. Both the temple and interior decoration were finished to 1669, including altarpieces and paintings.

Its severe exterior has, like other monastic churches, two identical and Renaissance facades as a bell gable. This contrasts with the richly interior decoration, distributed on its long nave Elizabethan plant.

In the works were involved Andean bricklayers and stonemasons and Melchior Mariano Huaman.


San Francisco
The Franciscan order founded by St. Francis of Assisi in Italy in the early thirteenth century. The Franciscans arrived to Cusco in the early years of conquest and were located in the San Blas district, then the block of Nazarene in Qasana old palace that belonged to the Inca Pachakuteq located in the main square and finally in then San Francisco square in 1549. It is not known who was the architect who designed the building, but it is known that Francisco Dominguez Chaves y Arellano, was an Cusquenian architect who worked as a principal bricklayer.

San Francisco Church

The structure of the church is relatively simple; it has a tower and two solid fences made with andesites prehispanic buildings. Iis original works of art were destroyed by a priest who "modernized" the church with neoclassical art made with plaster. Its altar is Neoclassic; it has the image of St. Francis of Assisi and the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception in the central part. There are also 11 other smaller altarpieces, all of them made in plaster, there is also a pulpit that has very old cedar wood. The monastery cloister is the oldest of the city with a Renaissance style with various influences. It has an impressive ceiling decorated with painted panels. Here there is a huge canvas that is possibly the largest on the continent is about 12 mts. (39 feet) high and 9 meters. (30 feet) wide, it was painted by Juan Espinoza of Monteros in 1699. This painting represents 12 branches of the Franciscan order contains 683 characters, 224 weapons and 203 shields and legends of biography. What is also impressive is the church choir is that it was carved in cedar wood by the Franciscan Luis Montes, Isidro Fernandez and Antonio de Paz in 1652. The chorus contains images of 93 saints of the Catholic Church, its lectern is very good, there is also an impressive German organ, many more fabrics in different rooms and cloisters, nearly all of them are anonymous and are from the Cusquenian School.


San Blas
The Church of San Blas was erected on a Inkan sanctuary dedicated to the worship of God "Illapa"  Lightning and Thunder. Perhaps the church has been released in 1544, although other versions it shoulded be after 1559 because of the provision of viceroy Andres Hurtado de Mendoza by which "Indians" had to build churches for their indoctrination in the districts where they lived.

San Blas Church

Its structure was simple, rectangular floor and adobe walls, but after the earthquakes in 1650 and 1950 the structure was partially reinforced with stone walls. It has a nave and two gates before which there are paths seats and a stone tower built after the earthquake of 1950 instead of the original made with adobes.
It is the oldest church in Cusco, The most striking quality of this tourist area is that it contains a spectacular pulpit carved in cedar wood, which is the most striking artistic woodwork Churrigueresque Spanish. Its development is attributed to natives.


This church is considered the "Sistine Chapel of America" because of the quality of art works found within it. This church must have been built over some important Inca temple, possibly a "Waka" (Sacred place) as the basis of the churches was made with carved andesite belonging to Quechua religious architecture.

Andahuaylillas Church

In the surrounding areas there are Inka buildings, to the  west of the church there are two sculptures of two quadrupeds on its lintel. Those were the Jesuits that built the church in the late sixteenth century, with mud-brick sun-dried thick walls, common in colonial buildings. Its architectural structure is relatively modest classic small-town churches. They have simply a higher bell tower, a facade decorated with murals, and two great stone columns projected onto the main gate.


Santa Ana
The Church is very simple, because it was the smaller church. Its tower and its bells of modest size and the church has very little ornamentation.

Santa Ana Church Cusco

But despite its small size, Santa Ana harbored unique artistic jewelry and various images carved by John Thomas Tuyru Tupac, among them  the Reclining Christ coming out in the Good Friday procession, the Crucifix, Our Lady of Sorrows, Santa Ana St. Jerome and the Christ carrying the Cross. Its main treasure was the series of paintings of the Corpus Christi procession, now in the Archbishop's Museum.


San Cristobal
The church was built on the hill Colcampata, an old platform that hosts a set of Inca niches finely finished.
It is a modest building, made of adobe and stone.

San Cristobal Church

According the studies of Humberto Vidal the work was done by Christopher Paullo initiative, a member of the Inca nobility and owner of the lands from Colcampata. The first church dates from 1560. The rear building in the seventeenth century and was sponsored by the Bishop Mollinedo, whose coat is on the lintel of the entrance door to the belfry.

The church has a plant in the form of a Latin cross and has a single nave. Among its treasures is the silver front of the altar, which also features the coat of Mollinedo. The pulpit, of course, was a gift from the bishop


San Pedro
Its original name was Our Lady of the Remedies, as its founder, Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, dedicated the church to it in 1572. According to researcher Humberto Vidal, the building was due to the advice of Captain Sebastian Garcilaso de la Vega, father of the chronicler. In colonial times, the place was known as Indian hospital, for here was St. Peter's Hospital, which later became medical post. The tradition has remained and today, a few meters from the church, is the San Pedro Health Center.

San Pedro Church

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