The cathedral of Cusco was erected on two old buildings located in the great square of the Cosco: the old temple of Suntur Wasi (house of God), today church of the Triunfo and the palace of the Inca Wirococha.
When the Spanish city was founded in the year 1534 it was agreed to build the cathedral on the Suntur Wasi and there was built the primitive church. Later this building was enlarged with adjacent land and in 1560 began to build the current cathedral in an area of 4,000 m2. The work would end in 1654 after 94 years of construction without problems.
The original plans were made by Juan Miguel de Veramendi. Other architects and Hispanic priests also collaborated. The labor force was totally indigenous.
The building of Renaissance style its plant is of Latin cross with three naves and ten lateral chapels. It has three processional corridors and cruises that connect two side churches: the church of Triunfo and the church of the Sagrada Familia.
The entrance to the cathedral is made by the church of Triumph that is in the place of the old church. This place was the scene of struggles between conquistadors and natives, being attributed to the divinity the victory of the Spaniards, since according to an old legend the Virgin of the Descent and the apostle Santiago descended from the sky and helped to the conquerors to obtain the victory.
Although almost all the works were done at the same time, there is much difference of styles and schools, partly because the majority of the constructions were realized by natives who did not have a consolidated artistic tradition nor defined schools.
The paintings reflect the imprint of the so-called “Cusqueña School”, which was famous throughout the continent. The interior, decorated with cedar and alder woods, also houses paintings by renowned artists, embossed silver works and carvings by Martín Torres and Melchor Huamán. Also the pulpit and all the furniture are very remarkable. In the central nave is the Main Altar or Main Altar of the cathedral, carved in granite. At the top there is an image of the Virgin of Descent.
The Sacristy is known as “Pictorial Room” for the canvases that are inside that represent biblical scenes. It also contains beautiful images of saints and the most valuable jewels of the cathedral.
At the exit of the sacristy is the altar of the Lord of Unupunku. Its name means water and door. It refers to a tradition according to which the cathedral was built on a lake whose waters could be seen when raising the stones that are in front of the altar. The reality is that it is a source of more than the many that are in the place.