3 Good Examples of Colonial Architecture in Cusco
Peru long trip

Aside from being multicultural and having a diverse climate, Peru is also proud of its deep-rooted architectural heritage. The designs of Peruvian architecture, according to experts, have three classifications – Pre-Columbian, Colonial, and Vernacular.

The city of Cusco showcases remarkable structures under these different classifications. Here are three of the best Colonial structures in the city.


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The Cathedral in Plaza de Armas. ©Aleah Taboclaon

The Cathedral of Cusco is also known as the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin. The church construction lasted more than a century – from 1559 to 1669.

The majestic design of this Renaissance-style church consists of a three-aisled nave with 14 huge pillars, a main altar constructed in silver that weighs 400 kilograms, delicately carved choir stalls, and 400-plus artworks from the Escuela Cuzquena or the Cuzco Art School.

Some significant pieces of artwork displayed are the Pintura Senyor de los Temblores, Vicente de Valverde, and Christ’s 12 Parables. One may find the Cusco Cathedral at Plaza de Armas.


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La Compania is an impressive and picturesque church. ©McKay Savage

‘La Compania’ was the most controversial church ever made in Peru. It all started when the archbishop of Cusco debated that the Jesuit church should not upstage the Cusco Cathedral. To settle the argument, Pope Paul III had to intervene. The Pope agreed with the archbishop, but the message did not reach Cusco immediately. The delay gave the Jesuits a lot of time to finish their glamorous church.

‘La Compania’ proudly showcases a huge central nave dressed up with woodcarvings, glided plaster, and gold leaf; two gold and green domes; Latin cross floor plan; and ten-sided gold-plated altars.


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Iglesia de la Merced. ©mundoporlibre

Another great colonial structure in Cusco is the Templo y Convento de la Merced or simply ‘La Merced.’ Compared to the Cusco Cathedral and ‘La Compania,’ the development of this Baroque-style church was shorter. They started construction in 1657 and finished after twenty-three years, in 1680.

The third most popular colonial church in Cusco proudly flaunts the following: a sacristy with precious stones, gold, and a huge pearl; paintings and carvings of colonial art; Baroque-style bell tower; oil paintings of well-known artists; carved choir stalls; exceptional lunettes; and three naves. ‘La Merced’ is near Plaza de Armas.

Spain conquered Cusco, Peru in 1537. Fortunately, the Spaniards appreciated the beautiful architectural designs made by the Incans and decided not to destroy the unique structures in the city. Instead, they mixed the ‘old’ with the ‘new’ Spanish style, hence producing impressive architectural designs.

The three churches–Cusco Cathedral, ‘La Compania,’ and ‘La Merced’–are proof of that. Other structures in Cusco that are as impressive are the Church of Santo Domingo and Coricancha Temple, Casa Concha Museum, Plaza de Armas, Sacsayhuaman, and many more are also as grand.

Indeed, in terms of architecture, Cusco has more than enough to fascinate travelers going to Peru.

About Author

Aleah Taboclaon is a solo traveler and freelance editor and writer. She's backpacking solo in South America for two years. Read her solo travel tales and tips in http://www.SolitaryWanderer.com and follow her trips on Instagram (aleahphils).


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