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Colonial churches

Discover Peru’s most impressive religious architecture with our guide to the country’s best colonial churches.

Written by Alexander Stewart

 

Church on Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru by Maksym Gorpenyuk ShutterstockChurch on Plaza de Armas, Arequipa © Maksym Gorpenyuk, Shutterstock

Arequipa has an unrivalled collection of colonial churches. The Franciscan Monasterio de la Recoleta (09.00–12.00 & 15.00–17.00 Mon–Sat) at Recoleta 117 dates from 1648 and has a distinctive red-and-white steeple. The monastery also has attractive cloisters and pretty gardens to wander through, and a collection of pre-Inca artefacts to uncover along with mummies and a horde of Amazonian curios picked up by Franciscan missionaries as they attempted to spread the word throughout the region. A library containing 20,000 books and maps is as impressive as it sounds. Elsewhere, Iglesia de San Francisco at Zela 103 is a 16th-century sillar structure with a silver altar and pretty vaulted ceiling; Iglesia de San Agustín, on the corner of San Agustín and Sucre, was rebuilt in the late 1890s after an earthquake but still boasts a superb Baroque façade; Iglesia de Santo Domingo, at the junction of Santo Domingo and Piérola, is known for its smart cloisters; whilst Iglesia de la Merced at La Merced 103 is home to a huge colonial library.

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