Just how did the Spanish conquerors convert the Peruvian people to their Catholic visions?
Walk inside the doors of the magnificent church dedicated to St. Peter in Sacred Valley’s’ Andahuaylillas and you get more than an inkling of the tools the Jesuits brought to bear in their evangelization efforts.
It’s the contrast between the simple pristine white wall exterior of the church set in a spacious feeling town square with the explosion of baroque detail inside its doors that captures your imagination, as likely it did since its 16th Century origins. It took a while to create this floor to ceiling top decoration, but this writer can think of no other church that quite catapults you to another frame of mind in an instant—even the Sistine Chapel in Rome for which it is nicknamed “Sistine Chapel of Peru”. As with that namesake, you will find yourself craning your neck high and higher still. One imagines the red hues take the chill out of the mountain air in the mornings.
Your tour guide may be giving you the blow by blow of various saints depicted in the church murals and displays. This writer was too overtaken with sensory overload to gather comprehensible notes. Photos are forbidden, though you will both be given a CD of images and video as part of your entrance ticket and will also be able to find images on the World Wide Web posted by those less concerned with copyright issues.
Here too—like Chinchero, Raqchi, Ollantaytambo and other Sacred Valley sites—the pleasant town surrounding this famous church is in itself very inviting, and with 20-20 hindsight would have been a good place to explore another homestay.
Do look for the woman in the town square selling papa relleno with sides of little potatoes and an especially yummy green spicy sauce. Our tour guide shared that he always stops there- and on that day he ordered two portions. It may have been the best street food we encountered in Peru, though there were several contenders for top spot in Puno.
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