La Catedral  picture
Claude LeTein/Getty Images

Key Info

142 Portal Espinar

Details

Churches/Religious Sites Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.5scorecard
  • 4.5Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Amid the many splendors found in the Plaza de Armas, the sky-high La Catedral is one of Cusco's finest architectural displays. Constructed in the 1550s with stones stolen from Sacsayhuamán, the baroque cathedral features opulent ceilings and gold and silver altars. It is also home to an impressive collection of colonial art that mixes Catholic traditions with indigenous legends.

La Catedral houses a world-renowned painting believed to depict the earthquake that shook Cusco in 1650. And across the building, you'll find a famous crucifix called Señor de los Temblores (Lord of the Earthquakes) who is said to have stopped the 17th-century earthquake from destroying the city.

Many of the works of art give insight into how the Andean people shifted to embrace Spanish culture and religion. For example, paintings of The Last Supper by Quechua artist Marcos Zapata depict Jesus and his disciples eating common ceremonial foods found in the region like cuy (roasted guinea pig) and chicha (a drink made from corn). Guests can also see images of the Virgin Mary depicting Pachamama (Mother Earth).

Recent visitors suggested exploring the church with a guide in order to hear the fascinating stories behind the structure and its artwork.

Visitors can stroll through the cathedral every day between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for 25 soles (about $7). Save some money by purchasing the Boleto Turístico ticket, which costs 130 soles (roughly $40) and includes admission to 16 of Cusco's attractions, including the La Catedral. 

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#1 Plaza de Armas

The history of the Plaza de Armas stretches back all the way to the Inca Empire when it was called Huacaypata or Aucaypata. The massive square (originally twice its current size) was built as a venue for festivals and ceremonies in ancient times.

According to legend, this plaza once marked the exact center of the Inca Empire, earning Cusco the nickname "the navel of the world." After Spanish conquistadors conquered the city in the early 1500s, they erected two churches on the either sides of the square – Iglesia de La Compañía de Jesús and La Catedral – where the former Incan palace once stood.

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