Cusco Cathedral & El Triunfo

La Catedral (The Cathedral)


Plaza de Armas, open to visitors 10am-5.45pm, admission S/.25


The Cathedral dominates the north-east side of the Plaza de Armas and sits squarely on the foundations of the Inca Viracocha's palace. The Cathedral was begun in 1550 and completed nearly 100 years later, constructed in the shape of a Latin cross. The three-aisled nave is supported by only fourteen massive pillars. It contains nearly 400 colonial paintings  including the Last Supper by Marcos Zapata showing Christ and the Apostles about to dine on guinea-pig, washed down with a glass of chicha! In the sacristy there's a painting of the crucifixion attributed to Van Dyke. Ten smaller chapels surround the nave, with the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, and the Chapel of El Señor de los Temblores (The Lord of Earthquakes) are worthy of special attention.


The Cathedral's real magic lies in the mingling of history and legend. It is said that when the Cathedral was built an Inca prince was walled up in one of the towers and that when the tower falls the Inca will emerge to claim his birthright and free his people. After the earthquake of 1950 thousands of believers waited hopefully for the tower to collapse, but despite severe damage, they did not and were later repaired.

Iglesia del Triunfo  (The Church of Triumph)


admission is included with the Cathedral entrance ticket


El Triunfo is on the right hand side of the Cathedral and was the first Christian church in Cusco. It was built on the site of Suntur Huasi (the Roundhouse), the main Inca armoury where the Spanish were trapped during Manco Inca's siege in 1536. When the Incas burned the city the thatched roof of Suntur Huasi caught fire, but then mysteriously went out. The Spanish later broke out and recaptured Sacsayhuaman, ending the siege. Before long the "miracle" had grown into a vision of the Virgin Mary extinguishing the flames, accompanied by Saint James (Santiago) on horseback, streading terror among the natives. The church was built to commemorate this victory and the miracle.

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