Temples & Convents
The Catholic Church accompanied, from the beginning of the conquest, the Spanish forces. To kick off their evangelizing, priestly orders of the time built their churches over the most important and spectacular Inca palaces and temples to show off their power and impose its religion on the population of Cusco. On the other hand, they had to be built to house the clergy convents. These well maintained buildings (10 in special) have architectural and historical details which are worthy of appreciation.
The Basilica Cathedral of Cusco
It is the most important, imposing and sumptuous monument of colonial architecture, for being the repository of multiple artistic manifestations. Built in what was the “Sunturwasi” and KISWAR CANCHA of the Incas. It was built with the stones of the walls of Sacsayhuaman. The first enclosure for religious services was built in what is now the Triunfo Church on one side of the Cathedral Basilica.
Compañia de Jesus Church
This church is one of the most outstanding monuments of Andean Baroque erected on the Amaru Kancha, the palace of Inca Royal Family, “Huayna Capac”. Its location and opulence, which overshadowed the primacy of the Cathedral, led to serious disputes between the Jesuits and the Cusco clergy. The first foundation of the church was made on the 17th of July 1571, by the order of Virrey Francisco de Toledo, from the initiative of the provincial father Jeronimo Luiz de Portillo.
La Merced Church
The church and convent of La Merced whose original construction dates back to mid-sixteenth century, is one of the oldest in the city of Cusco and was built in ancient Cusipata in the center of the city of Cusco. The convent formerly had 4 cloisters; currently there are 2 convent cloisters and one of them has become the current Colegio de la Merced.
San Francisco de Asís Church
The structure of the convent and church of San Francisco stand next to the National Science Association, and was placed at the service of the order in 1652. Here is possibly the largest canvas of the continent. The San Francisco Church was founded by the Franciscan Fathers in 1645 and has two fronts and a single tower. This church is of old, Spanish-style stonework. The work was completed in 1650.
Santo Domingo Church
Santa Catalina Church and Convent
This church stands on what was the House of the Chosen or Virgins of the Sun, also called Acllawasi. In Inca times it occupied the entire block bounded by the Plaza de Armas, Loreto Street, K´aspi K´ijllu street- today Loreto- and Maruri Street. Founded in 1605, the church and monastery had to be rebuilt after the earthquake of 1650. The church treasures beautiful Baroque altars and a magnificent pulpit.
San Blas Church
The church of San Blas was built on the Inca neighborhood "Tococachi", what today is the neighborhood of San Blas, exactly on a place where the “Illapa” was worshipped. This church is known for its pulpit that according to many experts is the most striking artistic Churrigueresque Spanish style.
Belen church was built in the Inca neighborhood called Ch'akillchaKa, to the west of the city of Cusco. This church, like many, suffered serious damage in the earthquake of 1650 and subsequently rebuilt. Belen is the oldest convent in the city of Cusco, dedicated to the recollection of the mestizas (crossbreeds); it was founded on April 30th, 1550.
San Pedro Church
In the beginning, it was a hospital that catered to the Indians or Natives. It was built in 1556 and is located six blocks west of the main square of Cusco. This church, like the majority of churches in Cusco, has important paintings, like for example the pulpit, which was carved by John Thomas Tuyru Tupac.
San Cristóbal Church
The San Cristobal Church was built on what was once the “Palace of Manco Capac”. Its construction began in 1673 and it was a parish destined for Indians or Natives of Cusco. It is a temple of one tower, whose architecture is almost equal to that of the Church of Santa Clara. The tower of the church is of stone, but the church itself is made of adobe.