Tipon & Pikillaqta are two archeological sites that are located in Cusco’s less visited southern valley. Tipon is a large Incan site believed to be from the early fifteenth century, while Pikillaqta was built by the Wari culture that predates the Incans.
Cusco Churches | Our guide to exploring the best
Cusco has a wide variety of Churches and Monasteries ranging from small local churches to the main Cusco Cathedral which dominates the Plaza de Armas in the centre of town. Most of the religious buildings have unique stories to tell and some have museums attached and most are accessible without the Cusco Tourist Ticket so there’s no time limit on when you can visit. Prices to enter range considerably and we’ve listed the main ones below including entrance fees and, most importantly, what you get for your money.
Cusco Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin
Activity – Religious building – Cost 50.00 PEN per person giving access to six sites in and around the cathedral.
Cusco Cathedral is one of the most impressive buildings in the city and dominates the Plaza de Armas in the centre of Cusco. The cathedral is flanked on each side by two other churches; Iglesia del Triunfo and Iglesia de la Sacrada Familia. The three buildings are accessed by the ticket office at Iglesia del Triunfo and like most important buildings of Cusco, there are guides at the entrance willing to walk you through the three buildings for a fee, depending on the size of the group. We chose not to have a guide as usually, with a guide, you’re on their schedule and we like to have a right good slow wander. In the cathedral there are ten side chapels and seven independent altars to explore and all with little brass plaques explaining in both Spanish and English which was really helpful. All three buildings are incredibly impressive.
The other sites you can access on your complete ticket is the Archbishops house and museum which is just up the street from the Cathedral. The other site is the San Cristobal church which has a wonderful viewpoint across the city as well as an opportunity to climb the bell tower. The complete ticket really is excellent value for money and gets you into the most important religious buildings in the city.
Iglesia De San Pedro
Activity – Religious Building – Cost Free
Nestled next to the famous San Pedro market, the church of San Pedro is one of the most beautiful expressions of art in baroque style that Cusco has. Despite the devastating earthquake of 1650 destroying the first building, the church still retains its beauty. The Church of San Pedro has a single nave and was built entirely in stone and in the baroque style and all the dark stone is joined with white mortar. It really is quite beautiful. Its construction is in the traditional Cusco style and it is inspired by the nearby cathedral as are many buildings of Cusco. The day we visited there was a wedding and the church looked amazing all lit up and draped in flowers.
Church and Convent of Santo Domingo of Guzman
Activity – Religious building – Cost – 15.00 PEN + 5.00 PEN for tower
This convent or Monastery, in the city of Cusco, was built by the Spanish on top of Coricancha, the most important Inca temple of the capital and peoples empire. Currently both structures have survived and house bell towers, paintings and other treasures from both the Inca and Spanish Colonisation times. At the entrance there are guides you can hire to take you through the old and newer parts of the buildings and they charge depending on the size of the group. On our visit we decided to wander around on our own and there is fairly good signage to guide you to what you are looking at in both Spanish and English. I would advise you to visit this church as early in the day as possible as it gets busy with larger groups in the afternoon and that makes it a little difficult to navigate and see the individual areas with so many people there.
Convento de Santa Catalina (acllahuasi)
Activity – Monastery & Museum – Cost – 8.00 PEN
This was one of my favorite churches and it houses some fantastic reconstructions showing how the nuns lived and worked in the building through the ages. Santa Catalina was built between 1601 and 1610 on top of the Acllahuasi, where the Inca emperor sequestered his chosen Virgins of the Sun. Inside you can read the history of the building and see some impressive artefacts. This building is only a few blocks away from Plaza des Armas and well worth a visit.
Church of the society of Jesus
Activity – Church – Cost – 10.00 PEN
This church impressively sits adjacent to the main cathedral on the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. Like many of the colonial buildings it was build on an ancient Incan palace. The 1650 earthquake destroyed the western wall, causing lots of damage, however in the following years, repairs were made creating the shape of the building today. The church inside is impressive and with your ticket you can climb up to the bell tower which gives a fantastic view of the Plaza and surrounding buildings.
Convento La Merced Cusco
Activity – Religious building & Museum – Cost – 15.00 PEN
The church and convent of La Merced is a colonial religious temple built in the city of Cusco during the 16th century but, due to the earthquake of 1650, it was rebuilt in 1670. The interior of the La Merced church has some of the most valuable pieces of Cusco. There are some amazing peice of gold and silver that are really worth seeing; The Menora or Jewish candelabrum, the tabernacle as well as La Custodia de La Merced, which is made with 24 carat gold and inlaid with up to 1,518 diamonds, 615 precious stones, including emeralds, rubies and topaz, as well as a large mermaid pearl, the second largest on the planet. Its quite breathtaking. The covent also has a lovely peaceful courtyard with works of art decorating the walls around on both levels. This place is really worth a visit.
Iglesia, Museo y Convento de San Francisco
Activity – Religious building & Museum – Cost – 15.00 PEN including guided tour
This church is dedicated to St Francis of Assisi and is located in the Plaza San Francisco which is just a block away from the main square Plaza de Armas. Your ticket includes a guide and the one we had was great. She took us through the many rooms telling the story of when the Franciscan monks came to Cusco. The building is really impressive and included in the ticket you have access to the catacombs which are amazing. Don’t miss one of the most famous pieces of art, the Genealogy of the Franciscan Order which is one of the largest works of art in South America and awe inspiring.
Cusco has loads of Churches and Monasteries to explore each with their own unique stories and histories. We really enjoyed visiting all the churches above but just beware about choosing a Sunday for your visit as most don’t allow visitors when there is a mass on. I hope you enjoy this guide and enjoy Cusco.
Booking resources for your stay in Cusco
Tours & Tickets
You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site. Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.
For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.
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