Church of Belén in Cusco
The church of Belén is one of the least known colonial temples in Cusco. It is located in the Santiago neighborhood, on the outskirts of the Historic Center of the city. Its baroque architecture stands out for its solidity and beautiful decoration. Inside, its main altar stands out as well as its canvases from the ‘Cusco school of painting’. Your visit is not included in any tour so it must be done on your own. Its main effigy, the Virgin of Bethlehem, participates in the Corpus Christi festival every year.
All about the Church of Belén in Cusco
The church of Bethlehem is a Christian temple built in 1559 as an ‘Indian parish’ but which, after the 1650 earthquake, became a Baroque church with two towers, bell towers and an interior decoration full of niches, altars and canvases made for the ‘Cusco school of painting’.
The temple is made mainly of stone. Its only nave is shaped like a Latin cross. Its main facade has a three-section structure and is flanked by two towers several meters high and which are crowned by two bell towers.
Its interior presents a beautiful decoration where its main altar covered with silver plates stands out. Its main effigy, the Virgin of Bethlehem, has a crown adorned with precious stones and gold. Some of the canvases that decorate its walls are: ‘The birth’, ‘The flight from Egypt’ or ‘The boy in the midst of the doctors’.
Where it is located?
The church of Belén is located in front of the square of the same name in the Historic Center of the city of Cusco. Its exact address is: 195 Roccopata street.
How to get there?
It can be reached by walking from any part of the Historic Center of Cusco (1.4 kilometers from the Main Square). Another option is to take a taxi from anywhere in the city.
Map to get to the Church of Belen
During the viceroyalty of Peru, in 1559 the parish of the Indians ‘Los reyes’ was founded, the oldest of its kind in the city. A short time later, it is said that two fishermen from the port of Callao (Lima) noticed a box in the sea where the image of the Virgin of Belén was found, with the note that it should be taken to the city of Cusco. Since then, the image occupied the main place of the parish, which was called ‘Iglesia de Belén’.
In 1650 a strong earthquake shook Cusco causing the destruction of houses and churches. The church of Belén was rebuilt under the direction of the architect Juan Tomás Tuyru Túpac (the same one who designed the plant of the church of San Pedro). The work was completed in 1715 maintaining the form that is appreciated today. Today, this church is one of the most beautiful in the city of Cusco. The Virgin of Bethlehem participates every year in the ‘Corpus Christi’ festival.
Like all colonial temples, the church of Bethlehem has a baroque style. It is made mostly of stone. It has two towers whose bell towers have decorations in high relief and low relief. The portal is divided into three sections, the main part of which stands out the figures of cherubs. Its door crowned by a semicircular arch is wide and high. Towers without decoration. Main portal decorated with figures of cherubs. The Corinthian columns have niches, friezes as well as other ornamental elements. The whole set has an admirable solidity and decoration.
The church of Bethlehem has a baroque decoration full of sculptures, altarpieces and canvases with Christian motifs. Its main altar made with silver plates stands out. The main effigy is the Virgin of Belén (known as the ‘mamacha Belén’ by her devotees). His crown is adorned with precious stones and gold ornaments). The side niches present the canvases ‘The Archangel Gabriel’ and ‘The Guardian Angel’. The church also presents altarpieces presided over by saints and virgins of Christianity such as the ‘Virgin of milk’, ‘Saint Anthony of Padua’, ‘Saint Joseph’ and the ‘Adoration of the three wise men’. Like all colonial churches, the site has colonial canvases made by artists from the so-called ‘Cusco school of painting’.
The visit to the church of Bethlehem is free during mass hours.
Saturdays and Sundays at 7 in the morning and 7 at night.
Photos of the church of Belén in Cusco
The Corpus Christi festival is celebrated in Cusco every year (usually in early June) through the procession of the 15 main saints and virgins from the city’s churches. The Virgin of Bethlehem participates in this religious festival, being transported from her church to the Cathedral, where all the images meet. Finally, after the celebrations, the effigies return to their respective churches.
In 1550, in the Inca neighborhood of Chakilchaka, the monastery and gathering of mestizas (daughters of Spaniards and Indians) was built. Over the years, this construction would become the church of Bethlehem. History indicates that it was the first and oldest parish of Indians in Cusco.
Take advantage of your visit to the city of Cusco to learn about some of the treasures hidden in colonial religious temples. In addition to the church of Belén, you can visit: the Cathedral of Cusco, the church of the Company of Jesus, the church of Santo Domingo, the church of La Merced and others.
The church of Belén is located on the outskirts of the historic center of Cusco, in the district of Santiago. It is recommended to visit in the mornings. The place is one of the few in Cusco that presents some cases of crime. In general, the city of Cuzco is a safe place for visitors.