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Visit the Church, museum and Catacombs of San Francisco de Asis - Cusco

Home / Travel Blog / Visit the Church, museum and Catacombs of San Francisco de Asis - Cusco
Visit the Church, museum and Catacombs of San Francisco de Asis - Cusco

The Church and Convent of San Francisco is a Catholic construction that is located in the district, province and region of Cusco. This church and convent was built in that place a few years after the arrival of the Franciscans to Peruvian territory.

 

It is known that this religious order arrived in Cusco in the 16th century, and that the temple, and the monastery that has survived to this day, was completed in 1549, although this would not be the first Franciscan construction in Cusco, but a relocation of the first structure. In the same way, the temple that has survived to this day is not the construction of 1549, but a restoration that was made in the seventeenth century.

 

Architecturally, the Church of San Francisco del Cusco has a basilica plan in which three naves of different heights are recognized. The Church is covered by vaults and has a facade of Plateresque qualities.

 

Unfortunately, as a result of the decision of a clergyman, for years the internal splendor of the temple has been lost, since it does not have the original pieces of the altars, which have been replaced by a cold neoclassical trend where the altars and different ornaments they are made of plaster.

 

In relation to the convent of the temple of San Francisco, it is important because it is considered the oldest in the city. In the cloister, a significant number of canvases are still preserved, inspired by the life of Saint Francis and totaling 60 pieces. The artistic wealth that the convent possesses has led to some of its rooms being enabled as a museum where all the art it possesses can be appreciated by whoever visits the place.

 

In the convent, it also highlights the sky that it has and in which you can also see different paintings. The artistic wealth of the convent is also completed by an impressive canvas, considered the largest in America, in which it is possible to see a work by Juan Espinoza de Monteros, in which the branches of the Franciscan order are reproduced, and in the which is counted to more than 600 characters.

 

In order to visit this impressive religious complex of Cusco, a legacy of the Franciscan order, the visitor can access the guided tours that are offered around the place from Monday to Saturday, from 9 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. Visits to the museum usually cost between 5 soles and S / 3.50 for reduced admission. Those visits allow not only to know the religious art pieces of the museum, but also beautiful scenes of the temple, as is the case of the choir, where you can appreciate a fine work in the carving of the furniture that it has.

 

The Church and the convent of San Francisco del Cusco are located in the Plaza de San Francisco to the southwest of the Plaza de Armas of Cusco, and that can be reached on foot, or in a taxi in the area.

 

Description

The church of San Francisco is a Christian temple of the Franciscan order, which was established in Cusco during the colony. It was built between 1572 and 1652 (after the 1650 earthquake). The enclosure includes a convent that includes cloisters, rooms, gardens, squares and catacombs. His paintings that explain the origin and development of the Franciscan order are famous. One of the most famous are: ‘Genealogy of the Franciscan Order’, which is the third largest oil painting in the world.

 

Where is it located?

The church and convent of San Francisco is located in front of the square of the same name, just a few steps from the Plaza de Armas in the city of Cusco.

 

How to get?

To visit the church and convent of San Francisco, you must walk from the Plaza de Armas of Cusco or from any part of the Historic Center of the city. Most tourist hotels are located in this area so it is not a problem to get to the church.

 

History

After the conquest of the Spanish in Cusco (in the 16th century) the Franciscans arrived in the ancient Inca capital for the construction of a religious temple with an evangelizing function. Initially in the San Blas neighborhood, north of the city center. Later, the temple was moved to the Plaza de Armas, in the Inca palace of Qasana. Finally, in 1459, the construction was defined where the San Lázaro hospital (current Plaza de San Francisco) was located.

 

The construction of the temple and convent of San Francisco was carried out between 1572 (first works) and 1652 (final construction after the earthquake of 1650). The architect in charge of the works is unknown, although today the participation of Francisco Domínguez Chávez from Cusco is known. Currently, the church and convent offers a museum-like tourist route where the catacombs, their canvases and a library of great proportions and historical value stand out.

 

Architecture

The structure of the church is simple. It has a single tower topped by a bell tower with up to seven bells of different sizes. The interior, with a single nave, has a platform in the shape of a Latin cross where three naves of the basilica type are subdivided. The facade has a Plateresque style, made of Andesite stones, similar to other churches in Cusco.

 

The convent has a Renaissance style, characteristic of this religious order. Its walls have a coffered ceiling and a ceiling decorated with painted boards. Its structure includes squares with gardens, cloisters, stairs and even catacombs. Part of its structure was donated for the construction of the current National College of Sciences and Arts of Cusco.

 

Church interior

The church and temple of San Francisco del Cusco has canvases from the Cusco school where works such as "The final judgment" and "Paradise, purgatory and hell" by Diego Quispe Tito stand out. The main hall of the church is dominated by the sculpture of the Immaculate Conception. However, the main attraction of the church - museum is the painting (in gold frames) of 'Genealogical Tree of the Franciscan Order', the work of Juan Espinoza de los Monteros (in collaboration of his son), which measures 12 meters high and 9 wide (the largest oil painting in South America and the third largest in the world).

 

The convent is also famous for its catacombs, a set of crypts located below one of the rooms. There it is possible to visualize the skulls of some of the members of the religious order who died there. Finally, the ‘Great choir’ is noteworthy, a room where there is a gigantic choral book made of sheepskin, which has a dimension of more than 1 meter 80 wide. The convent has a harmonious atmosphere, with gardens and silent corridors. It is one of the most visited churches in Cusco.

 

How much is the entrance ticket?

  • Adults: 15 Peruvian soles (approximately 5 US dollars).
  • Students: 7 soles 50 cents (2.50 US dollars, approximately).
  • Children: 3 soles 50 cents (approximately 1 US dollar).

Hours of operation

  • Monday through Friday from 9 in the morning until noon. Also from 3 in the afternoon to 5 in the afternoon.
  • Saturdays from 9 in the morning until noon.

More information

The most representative and famous work of the church and convent of San Francisco del Cusco is the canvas: ‘Genealogy of the Franciscan order’. The work visually describes the twelve branches of the religious order, from its beginnings to the time when the work was made: 1699. Each character has their own coat of arms, arms and legend, which allows a detailed review of the painting.

 

Inside the church, for an additional cost, you can hire the service of a tour guide, with whom you will visit each corner of the temple. Your guide will better explain the meaning of each canvas and the history behind each space in the place, including the catacombs.

 

Some advices

During your visit to the city of Cusco, in addition to the church of San Francisco, take the opportunity to get to know the other religious temples of the city: the church of the Company of Jesus, the church of Santo Domingo (Coricancha temple), church of San Blas, Cathedral of Cusco and more.

 

A good way to see the ornaments inside the church of San Francisco is to visit it during mass times (Saturdays and Sundays from 7 in the morning and 7 at night). To see the canvases and other objects and spaces of the convent, it is necessary to purchase a ticket (price of 5 US dollars, approximately).

 

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