Purified Virgin

Chapel of the Purified Virgin of Canincunca

Our last destination is a small chapel that was built really close to Urcos town, capital of the Quispicanchi Province. This place is known as Canincunca or bitten neck. This name might come from shape of the setting or the geographic characteristics. It is a small and high esplanade that faces Urcos Lake, called Qoyllurcocha in the past and today it knows as Qoyllururmana.

Waris may have used the area to build some kind of worship room because of its location. It is a fact that there is a lot of evidence of their presence in the area. With the colonial system of idolatry removal, the decision of building the church here must have been motivated by that situation.

The patron saint of the chapel is Virgin Purified or Virgin Candelaria, and every February 2nd, the atrium of the temple is full of people from the area that come to celebrate her day with dances and songs.

The chapel has very simple proportions and austere architecture. It was built entirely with soil and you can see the strong lateral reinforcements that support the charges on the cover. They also give a special vibe to the whole compound. The cover is made of alder wood, species usually used in the construction of buildings due to the high resistance to efforts and termites or moth attack.

The chapel ha a big atrium made of river stones. These big areas are frequent in the churches of that time and were used to hold some religious activities like burials. Let’s remember that a inhabitant that used to practice magical-religious activities on the outside and in communion with nature is suddenly forced to get into a closed enclosure, where his relationship world is broken. Church noticed this and to make the evangelization and submission process easier, they started to use this transition areas so they would not break the native’s traditions completely and to introduce the new religion little by little.

On the front side of the chapel some elements stand out. Two robust bell towers flank the entrance to the temple, the entrance has a stone rounded arch and above a green straight-lined balcony that worked as an open chapel. Some niches decorate the front and two inscriptions draw the visitors’ attention.

The first on the left side (Gospel side):


On the right side (Epistle side):


The one-story parish house on the left side completes the façade. The access is through a higher volume with a hall. In its stone lintel you can see the Mary and Jesus Christ monograms.

The decoration of the Canincunca Chapel represents a fundamental time of XVII century, where the small enclosures’ walls were decorated with what was called the textile style by order of the church. That way, walls seem to be covered with fine curtains similar to filigree and lace, with fine golden ribbons that separate the motives along the small nave. Images with vegetables designs decorate the higher and lower parts, fruit, foliaceus beings and other animals.

In the small nave, we can find a small cupboard with carved doors and an altar piece devoted to the Sacred Family on the Gospel side. In front of the epistle wall, San Roque altar piece is located.

The main original altar piece was painted on the wall itself, but sometime of history, it was almost completely lost, remaining only Virgin Candelaria. A new one made of carved wood and gold leaf was put on top. Around this one there are other canvas that tell us the life of Jesus child and Mary.

The upper choir is small and not too tall, powerful corbels that receive their weight, around the door of the chapel we can see the images of Saint Peter and Saint Pablo. From this area you can see the peculiar of the colored roof that covers the whole chapel and the floral details made of plaster.

The chapel has a small sacristy which has some canvas from the Cusquenian School. From this room there is access to the internal gallery of the parish house, small building made of soil bricks with a small central patio.

Unlike other monuments of the Route of the Andean Baroque, the small chapel of Canincunca does not stand out by its shapes, the richness of the interior area or the powerful communication walls. It is a refined and subtle way of mural art of that time. A delicate jeweler.

Soon the chapel will be intervened and when you visit us again you will probably find it even more beautiful.

This journey ends here, a day full of colonial religious art. It might be a good time to take a look at Urcos Lake and think about what you saw today.

The Route of the Andean Baroque thanks you for your visit again.

Canincunca Images

Virgen de Canincunca