The simple, whitewashed exterior of San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas gives no hint as to the mesmerizing murals within, which depict biblical scenes imbued with Inca symbols. Along with lavish embellishments such as a gold-leaf altarpiece, these have earned the church the moniker Sistine Chapel of the Americas.
The comparison of St. Peter the Apostle of Andahuaylillas (San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas) to one of the world’s top attractions garners it lots of attention and places it firmly on the itinerary of many Cusco tours. Travelers can visit the landmark as part of a day trip from Cusco, many of which combine the church with visits to Tipón, an elaborate network of Inca agricultural terraces, and Pikillacta, home to pre-Inca ruins. Both archaeological sites attract a fraction of the crowds of Machu Picchu.
Things to Know Before You Go
- San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas is a place of worship, so dress appropriately and speak quietly inside.
- The marriage of indigenous culture and Spanish designs is a must-see for culture vultures.
- In the village of Andahuaylillas, you’ll find plenty of restaurants and cafés where you can rest and refresh.
How to Get There
The village of Andahuaylillas is approximately 1–1.5 hours by car from central Cusco, depending on which route you take. Travelers who want to avoid the hassle of car rental or public transport generally opt for the convenience of a day trip, which includes round-trip transport and gives you time to focus on the stunning scenery of the Peruvian Andes.
When to Get There
San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas is open daily from morning until night; however, due to extensive restoration, the church occasionally closes. Check the website for the most up-to-date information.
The Legends Behind the Murals
When Spanish missionaries were cementing their hold in this Inca region, they often used murals as a way to overcome the language barrier to evangelize the local population. Unless you know the stories and history behind the paintings, the murals can be visually overwhelming. Opt for a guided tour to enhance your experience of the church.