The Cusco Cathedral & Basilica

Attractions & Activities In Cusco & The Sacred Valley


If you spend any time at all in Cusco during your personalized Peru trip, you’ll surely come across this iconic symbol of the city, which stands proudly in the central Plaza de Armas. The Cusco cathedral was built as a show of power by the Spanish conquistadors to demonstrate the superiority of Catholicism to the natives. It was built on top of the foundations of the destroyed Inca palace of Viracocha, and looted stones from the sacred Inca citadel of Sacsayhuaman were incorporated into the structure.

The Gothic Renaissance-style church, which was eventually completed in 1654, took more than a century to build. While it’s no doubt impressive from the outside, the real treasures are the Cusco school artworks sheltered inside. Among the collection of valuable religious paintings is the oldest painting in Cusco, which depicts the massive earthquake of 1650.

Look for the black Christ crucifix, also known as Señor de los Temblores, which, incidentally, didn’t start out that color but was gradually darkened from the smoke from burning votive candles and incense. The statue is paraded annually during Holy Week. Also of note is the massive Maria Angola Bell, which weighs more than six tons. It’s said that its chimes can be heard from as far as 20 miles away.

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