The Andean Sistene Chapel in Andahuaylillas [Featured]

July 27th, 2009

Mark of the must-see travel blog visits what locals describe as “the Sistine Chapel of the Americas”. Though he considers that a bit of a cheeky exaggeration, this ordinary-looking church on the outside does not fail to impress once you step inside.

Photo by Gustavo Jeronimo

To establish European thinking and religious beliefs with the indigenous Indian population three hundred years ago, the Spanish built a modest mud-brick and wooden church on the site of an old Incan temple in a small village about forty kilometres south of Cusco. Arriving late in the afternoon in dull light, the church certainly didn’t inspire any wonder, and I wished I’d stayed on the bus to Cusco. However the temptation was too great with descriptions likening this colonial church to the Sistine Chapel.

To open the doors is to unveil a dazzling array of wall paintings and frescoes contrasted by a richly glowing gilded altarpiece carved from wood. The artwork, rich in red and gold paint, tell powerful religious stories. One graphic painting highlights the punishments for going to hell and the rewards for getting to heaven. The ceiling is decorated in floral patterns and glitters with gold leaf.

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