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The Andahuaylillas Church


The “San Pedro de Andahuaylillas” church is also known as the “Sistine Chapel of America”, and in some aspects this is an apropriate comparison given the fact that this church is one of the most amazing and beatiful samples of the Andean popular religious art.

Andahuaylillas is a small town in the Department of Quispicanchi, located at an approximate distance of 45 kilómeters from the city of Cusco.

Its fertile countryside, near the Vilcanota River, was the reason why, during the first years of the Colonial period, important people decided to settle there. Proof of that are the big houses that belong to them and that are still standing nowadays. Nevertheless, the development process of the village got stagnated, coexisting in the town two different images: the simple one outside the church and the opulent one, inside it.

There, the explosion of gold, carvings and painting “scares” the visitor. That would have been the expression used by someone entering the church in the 17th century, when that word meant “to be delighted” or “to be astonished to the limit”. That is due to the fact that the ornaments in gold leaf and the murals cover almost every last piece of the church, hardly leaving any free spaces neither in the walls nor in the roof.

The “San Pedro de Andahuaylillas” church must have been built at the end of the 16th century given the fact that one of its murals, signed by Luis de Riaño, has a date written in it that states it is from the year 1626.

The roof is almost completely covered by a Mudejar kind of decoration with floral and fruit motives and coated with gold leaf. El techo está casi completamente recubierto por una decoración de estilo mudéjar, con motivos florales y frutales, y este riquísimo artesonado ha sido revestido con pan de oro.

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