Andean Baroque of Peru

This in-depth study aims to tell a travel experience that can be useful to those interested in the subject or for those who are about to make / plan a tour in Peru. 
The Andean Baroque, also called "Mestizo Style" was born in South America after the conquest of the Spaniards. In order to bring European culture to what was considered a wild continent with local populations dedicated to the worship of idols, missionaries from different religious brotherhoods, nobles and artists were sent. There were many churches, monasteries and convents built in those first decades. This ferment recalled several artists who then founded real painting schools, of which Cuzco is the most important. In these schools, which resumed the style of the late Italian Renaissance and then the Baroque, several works were produced, many of them without signature or collectively realized. Little by little, the artists of Cuzco detached themselves from European models and abandoned the real world, to enter a fairytale world painting angels wrapped in regal clothes, naive and childish landscapes without perspective, precious decorations on clothes, golden rays, necklaces and jewels that adorned Madonnas and the saints. This mannerism also had the purpose of approaching the indigenous mentality by contrasting the local divinities to Christ, Mary and the saints, thus determining the creation of a precise local iconography. 
Even today, some art workshops in Cuzco, continue to produce paintings reproducing and interpreting the classic iconography of the past. In the art workshops the masters guide groups of artists specialized in a specific part of the work that eventually leads to the creation of collective works and, therefore, rarely signed; a person in charge prepares the canvases on which he will have to paint, another traces the drawing, then there are those who prepare the background colors, the shadings, the incarnates and the rich golden decorations.
There are many churches in Peru where the Baroque Andean is present in a total or only partial way (for example, only the high altar). Below are just some of these that can be defined as among the most significant, well preserved Christian places of worship and much visited by tourists as they are located along the road that connects Cuzco with Puno, so easy to reach. These peculiarities have coined the term "Andean Baroque Route".


The route of the Andean Baroque begins in the main square of Cuzco, in one of the most significant temples of this architectural style. The construction began in 1576 on the Inca Amaru Cancha temple, and was completely restored in 1650 after a strong earthquake struck the city. Its facade is in richly decorated stone, has two large towers and two adjacent chapels. Its interior, with a Latin cross plan, preserves one of the most impressive altars carved in wood and covered with gold leaves, as well as a rich collection of sculptures and paintings of the Cusqueña School of Art. This architecture served as a model for many other temples that were built in the southern Andes.

SAN PEDRO APOSTOL  -  Andahuaylillas

It is said that here already existed a small chapel built on an Inca temple. In the current church there are two beautifully painted organs that are considered the oldest in America. This great capacity is also reflected in the coffered ceiling of Mudejar influence, in the wall paintings by Luis de Riaño, in the paintings of the Cusqueña School of Art, in the polychrome of the ceilings and in the triumphal arch that divides the presbytery and the main nave.
The paintings adorning the walls are framed by huge cedar and gold leaf moldings. The beauty and richness of this church's paintings earned her the nickname "Sistine Chapel of South America".


This church has a Renaissance style and retains more than 60 splendid sculptures and 50 paintings of the Cusqueña School of Art, as well as silverware, altarpieces and other movables. Built between the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century, it preserves valuable frescoes inside which cover the whole ceiling and walls. The paintings show the consequences of people's human life, the vision of death, the final judgment, the glory and hell, defined by the union of popular beliefs with colonial art.


Located in the ancient center of Wari, near the small lake of Urcos, Canincunca takes its name from the narrow passage located along the way from Cusco to Puno. The construction of the chapel began in the early seventeenth century and consists of a single nave, with richly decorated interior walls with murals and gold leaf ribbons. Many of them represent flowers, fruits, birds and symbols that resemble the pallais, the geometric designs used by Andean weavers in their fabrics.

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