Andahuaylillas

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::: CuscoWeb.com Cusco Info Andahuaylillas
It is a Quispicanchis province's district, about 40 Kms. (25 miles) east from Qosqo and at an altitude of 3100 mts. (10170 Ft.). Its ancient name was Antawaylla (anta = cooper, waylla = prairie) which is translated as "coppery prairie". The name was later Spanished into "Andahuaylas"; but as a bigger province having the same name existing in the Apurimac department.
its name was transformed in a diminutive way for avoiding confusions. Andahuaylillas is a very welcoming small town, with a healthy warm climate as consequence of being surrounded by mountains on the left bank of the "Vilcanota" river that in lower regions is named "Urubamba". Its lands have a privileged fertility and its people are tranquil and friendly.

On its vast Main Plaza adorned with "pisonay" (coral trees) and palm trees is its most valuable jewel: the Andahuaylillas colonial church. The church is considered to be the "Sistine Chapel" of the Americas, because of the quality of the artworks found inside it. This church must have been built over some important Inkan building, possibly a "Waka" (shrine), as bases of the church were made with carved andesites belonging to religious Quechua architecture. Besides, in the surroundings there are remains of Inkan buildings, standing out a gate of transitional architecture (transition between Inkan to colonial) on the church's western side with two quadruped's sculptures on its lintel. Those were the Jesuits who constructed the church by the end of the XVI century, with sun-dried mud-brick very wide walls, very common in colonial buildings. Its relatively modest architectonic structure is classic in small town churches. It has just one upper bell tower, a facade adorned with murals, and two strong projecting stone columns between which is the main gate; over that gate is an ancient balcony behind which there are more murals.
Inside the one-nave church there are two different sections corresponding to the two stages of its construction; they are separated by the present interior main arch. The oldest and most adorned of mudejar style (architectonic style mixing Arab and Christian elements, developed between the XIII to XVI centuries) is found deeper inside where the High Altar is. The newest section is toward the entrance. That is the reason why this church has two pulpits, the oldest is under the interior arch and the latter on the opposite wall farther out.
It is impressive the amount of murals covering the walls and especially the ceiling with geometrical patterns and flowers adorned with gold flakes. The High Altar is baroque, carved in cedar-wood and gilded with gold flakes; in the center of this altar is the effigy of the "Rosary Virgin". Its tabernacle is covered with plates of beaten silver and it also has a lower mirror area placed in order to reflect the light of candles as well as light entering through the gate for helping interior illumination. Deep inside, at one side of the High Altar is the vestry that has ancient trunks in which the priests' clothing and chasubles embroidered with precious metals are kept; that vestry also kept very interesting gold and silver jewelry that were stolen in 1992 but never recovered. More over, there are also some other altars and lateral chapels, and on the upper side of the central area an interesting collection of anonymous canvases of the Cusquenian School representing the life of Saint Peter, with impressive gilded frames. Over the interior arch is a painting representing the "Virgin of the Assumption" attributed to the Spanish painter Esteban Murillo.

Entering the church through its main gate, towards the left side is the baptistery; around its entrance is the writing "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen"; what is interesting is that the writing is in five languages spoken at the time when the church was built: Latin, Spanish, Quechua, Pukina and Aymara (today Pukina is an extinct language). On the surface behind the facade, that is, inside the church, on both sides of the gate are murals representing a crowded and attractive profane path leading to hell and another virtuous towards heaven.

Outside, on the western side of the church's front patio are three big crosses sculpted in andesite; the central one is the biggest and they represent the Holy Trinity of Catholicism, that is, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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