The Church of the Society of Jesus is located in front of the Plaza de Armas in the city of Cusco. The temple is one of the Cusco Baroque churches, a style with which architecture reaches its highest peak. It is made with andesites and has a very beautiful facade.
Its construction began in 1576 on the Inca temple Amaru Cancha, and it was rebuilt in its entirety after a strong earthquake that affected the city in 1650. With a plan in the shape of a Latin cross, its facade is profusely decorated in stone, it has two large towers and two attached chapels.
Its interior preserves one of the most imposing Main Altars made of carved cedar wood and covered with gold leaf. As well as a rich collection of sculptures and pictures from the Cusqueña School.
At the entrance door there is a Virgin of the Immaculate Conception carved in berenguela (marble). The church inside has a single nave where an imposing main altar stands out in the background, carved in a hybrid style in cedar and completely gilded with gold leaves by Cristóbal Clemente around 1670. The entire church is built almost entirely in carved stone and stands out in its pictorial art as in its carvings.
The architecture of the Church of the Society of Jesus in Cusco served as a model for many other temples that were built in the southern Andes.
Plaza de Armas of the City of Cusco.
Internally, the Church of the Society of Jesus in Cusco impresses with its stone dome. The drum has eight windows with a balustraded gallery and under its cornice the pendentives, also stone, with medallions with the Jesuit JHS supported by an infant open. At the top of each medallion and like flaming cartouches, are the monograms of Joseph and Mary. Four arches open under this dome in front of the presbytery, each supported by a sturdy pillar that exhibits four Corinthian columns and each two houses a niche for a large, polychrome and fleshy Evangelist. The presbytery, the transept and the vault of the single nave display Gothic ribs, as the entire upper deck is made of brick and the ribs are covered with plaster. On the sides of the presbytery there are two inlaid drawer balconies, not projecting, openwork and gilded, of very fine work.
The main altar is superb and, without a doubt, the best baroque altar in Cusco. It has five streets and four bodies in its central street, three on the sides and only one on the ends, which are oblique. The tabernacle represents the Annunciation in beautiful wood carving, on top is the Trinity and on top is the praying Virgin, a shining canvas of Jesus and finally, in bulk, Saint Ignatius surmounted by a medallion that represents the Eternal Father showing his creational work. The side streets are very rich in images and canvases as well as in twisted gilded carvings and in thick Solomonic or straight columns.
The pulpit is also remarkable. Her chair, which ends in an open and pearlized rosette, is supported by four maiden busts, the lower part of their bodies being lost in herd; the chair has five baroque panels with Doctors of the Church, all with caps and red capes, white alb and red cassock, with a book in the left hand and a pen in the right; between niche and niche there is a Solomonic column whose pedestal is a diabolical face. The tympanum, golden and even simple, portrays Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus in gold, polychrome and bait carving. The tornavoz has seven crests of three pinnacles each and above it a sculpture in bulk of San Francisco Javier preaching.
On the upper flanks of the temple, the painter Marcos Zapata executed the life of San Ignacio de Loyola on several canvases. The high choir is Baroque, with a gilded rail, carved and centered by a small altarpiece of the Virgin in the image of the bundle. In the sotachore of the distended arch there are two famous marriage paintings: that of Martín García de Loyola, San Ignacio’s nephew, with Ñusta doña Beatriz, daughter of Sairi Túpac, the penultimate Inca of Vilcabamba, a canvas that is next to the Gospel; ; and that of the daughter of this link, The church also presents in its pilasters the full-figure paintings of the great Jesuit saints already seen, to which are added those of the also Ignatian saints San Francisco de Borja, San Luis Gonzaga, San Pedro Canisio, San Estanislao de Kotzka and San Francisco Regis.
To the south of the chapel of San Ignacio de Loyola is the premises of the current University Paraninfo of the National University of San Antonio Abad del Qosqo that originally served as the premises for the premises of the University of San Ignacio de Loyola that was part of the College of the Transfiguration, created by the papal bull of Gregory XV in 1621. Upon the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, the place became a military barracks where José Gabriel Thupa Amaru was imprisoned; later it was transferred to the Antoniana University since in 1598 the Colegio Seminario de San Antonio Abad had been founded in its premises in the current square of the Nazarenas; a century later, in 1692 a «brief of erection» given by Pope Innocent XII created the University of San Antonio Abad dependent on the Seminary College.
The first foundation of the Church of the Society of Jesus in Cusco took place on July 17, 1571, by order of Viceroy Francisco de Toledo, at the initiative of the provincial father Jerónimo Ruiz de Portillo. Builders from the same church participated in this work, among them the Architect Father Juan Ruiz.
In 1619, the Jesuit Congregation began the construction of the Colegio de San Bernardo, managing to complete the building, whose main characteristic was a gabled roof with cedar trusses, brought from Amaybamba.
In 1651, the Chapel of our Lady of Loreto (also called the Chapel of the Indians) began, completing this work in three years. In 1654, construction work began on the Church of the Society of Jesus, ending in 17 years, with the participation of many architects and builders.
The Church of the Society of Jesus in Cusco, inside, has a single nave where the imposing main altar stands out in the background, carved in a hybrid style in cedar and completely gilded with gold leaves. It measures 21 meters in height by 12 in width and in the central portion of the altar is the image of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, above a canvas representing the Transfiguration of Jesus. The main nave also has a transept that communicates with the two side chapels, six altars with different styles and a fully gilded pulpit; towards the sides of the main altar there are another 4 cedar altars, three of them gilded and quite ostentatious.
It is worth mentioning the canvases that represent the life of the founder of the Order, San Ignacio de Loyola, painted by Marcos Zapata and his assistant Cipriano Gutiérrez.
How to get to the Church of the Society of Jesus in the city of Cusco?
The Church of the Society of Jesus in Cusco is located in the Plaza de Armas, without number, in the heart of the historic center of the city. From any location, you will always find a taxi that will take you to the Plaza de Armas.
You can visit the Church of the Society of Jesus in Cusco from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every day except Thursdays and Sundays, also from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the afternoon. The price to access the temple is about 16 soles for adults and half for students.
Monday to Saturday: 08:00 to 11:00 hrs and from 13:00 to 17:00 hrs
Sundays. From 09:00 to 10:30 and from 13:00 to 17:00
Cost: Entrance with the ticket of the religious circuit, or only to this monument with the following amounts:
Partial adult: S / 10.00
Partial Student: S / 5.00
Visiting Cusco is a real adventure whose protagonist will be yourself, instead of a memorable experience, that is why Cusco is definitely one of the most incredible cities with a great variety of archaeological centers and tours such as Sacred Valley, Camino Inca or Machu Picchu. To enjoy an unforgettable experience, contact Inka Trail Backpacker, a company that will better assist you during your visit, of course it is always with the necessary advice for you and yours as well as the guarantee, responsibility and security that characterizes us. If you visit the city of Cusco another impressive destinations that you can visit are the tour to rainbow mountain peru or the humantay lake tour from cusco, which only takes one day. But if you are gonna to stay more days in Cusco, other archaeological places you can know will be the choquequirao trek peru, the salkantay trek to machu picchu, and the classic inca trail 4 days 3 nights.