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Andahuaylillas and San Pedro

This small colonial village, located 37 kilometers (23 mi) south of Cusco, is home to one of Peru's most beautiful churches. Whether or not San Pedro is the "Sistine Chapel of the Americas," as some have claimed, is a hotly debated subject (and one which we'll let you make up your own mind about). Built in 1631 in accordance with Spanish tradition, on top of ancient Inca foundations, the church bombards visitors with an explosion of Baroque art and religious imagery.

In contrast to its rather dull looking exterior, the church's interior is lavishly decorated with wall-to-wall colonial paintings from the Cusqueña School, frescos and painted ceilings. To maintain the decadent theme, the altars and wood carvings are accented in leaf gold. Also worth a look is the mural by Luis de Riaño, which flamboyantly depicts the road to heaven and road to hell, each paved with its own respective set of alarming images.

The town itself is also visually appealing, with a charming plaza draped in blossoming red-flowered pisonay trees. Most excursions to Andahuaylillas can be combined with trips to the ruins of Rumilcolca and Pikillacta. If your visit to San Pedro wasn't spiritual enough, you can always head to the Centro de Medicina Integral ( 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Calle Garcilaso 514, Tel: 227-264, E-mail: where you can relax in the aesthetically pleasing stone courtyard or spend the night in one of the center's plain rooms. Travelers from around the world come here for massages ($10 a go), meditation, harmonizing energy therapy, and other treatments (around $38).

Buses to Andahuaylillas leave regularly from Avenida de la Cultura (in front of the regional hospital).

Altitude: 3,122m (10,243 ft) Phone code: 84


Other places nearby Andahuaylillas and San Pedro: Cusco: South of the Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo, Yucay, Urubamba, Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) and Pisac.

27 Mar 2012

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