During our journey to our second stop, the characteristic smell of burned clay will draw your attention. We are passing by the town of Piñipampa. The citizens make hand-made tiles, materials used to cover roofs in most constructions in our city. This means we are soon to arrive to our destination.
Andahuaylillas is approximately 37 Km from Cusco city and at 3150 meters above sea level. You can see the high mountains that limit and protect the area. You can also see some small corn and potato crop fields. Agriculture is not intensive, it is only for the citizens’ own consumption. You will also see these small crop fields in the structure of the town, where houses are before small fields destined to sowing. If you visit us between January and March, you can see the green corn really tall, and in May during harvest it is extended on the floor to dry and later for storage.
Good weather and abundance of crop soil with necessary water source were fundamental reasons for this place to be chosen during the Colony to bring the population of the area together.
We will enter the town through a series of narrow and paved streets. They are part of the original layout that the structure was raised with in the Colony times. The first architectural configuration clearly remains, with mud brick and stone houses, small windows, some ending in wooden balconies and covered with tiles.
The first things that will draw your attention are the beautiful trees that decorate the town’s square. It is a species that grows in the mild areas of the Andean mountain range, it is the Pisonay. Really high and robust, and decorated with green leaves and red flowers. The ones we have in Andahuaylillas surpass by long a hundred years. They welcome us and invite us to protect ourselves from the sun under the big shadow their branches produce.
The square is square-shaped without any outstanding element. It has a central platform with an ornamental fountain, some garden areas and benches where people rest or are used for some minor commercial activities.
In two of the opposite corners there are still traces of small religious buildings called “posa” Chapels, very common in towns like Andahuaylillas. They were used to rest and offer prayers during processions. There is also a house with a unique aspect across from the square. It has two floors and a straight-lined balcony. There four medallions represent the four seasons. It belongs to the republican time and its different architecture is a sample of the importance and the references of the family that once lived there.
The Church is located southeast of the square. It is over a high atrium, higher than the square. To enter, you have to go up some stairs that have been built with some Inca stones.
When you are in this platform, you can clearly see the different elements that shape this first image of our church. Surely you have already seen the three stone crosses on the right. They are a memory of the Calvary of our Lord and preceded funeral and related activities held in the atrium.
The church shares many of the south-Andean churches’ characteristics of the country, paved platform with a long nave and a lateral tower, baptistery, sacristy and small chapels on the side that make the group complete.
However, the events that happened in the town of Andahuaylillas in the early XVII century made this temple not just one more temple in the region. Just like in all stories carried with uniqueness, the shape of a man appeared in Andahuaylillas and he made it possible to have this wonder in front of your eyes.
In 1618, the task of being in charge of the Andahuaylillas parish is given to Juan Perez de Bocanegra, a well-educated religious man, thinker, master and owner of great knowledge of the arts. He would be the intellectual author of the evangelization programs you will see on the temple walls. Interested in making natives understand gospels and Doctrine of the Faith easier, he would convene the famous Limenian painter Luis de Riaño to be in charge of painting the fantastic murals that we can see outside and inside the church.
The front face has a Renaissance style, two stone backings receive the weight from the cover and the straight-line balcony from the open chapel, place where some ceremonies for the people were held from. To hear them, the people would stand in the atrium. On the higher part there are murals of Saint Peter and Saint Pablo’s martyrdoms, recovered recently.
The exuberance of the temple was such that the bulls from the doors were initially covered in gold leaf. Four niches flank the entrance, in them you can locate the images of four saints, on the left Saint Peter above and Saint Jeronimo below, on the right Saint Pablo above and below an image that can be Saint Agustin.