Cusco Cathedral and Gilded Art

Gilded Alter in museum

Gilded Alter in museum

Corner view of cathedral

Corner view of cathedral

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The gigan

tic, one acre cathedral took a hundred years to build.  It’s on the site of the Inca temple, Kisw

arkancha, and was the Incaimage p

Cusco Cathedral

Cusco Cathedral

alace of Viraciocha, ruler of the Kingdom of Cusco a century before the Spanish colonists arrived. Twenty six years after the conquistadores arrived in Cusco they destroyed the temple and built the Christian cathedral in its place.

Shaped like a Latin Cross, the intention was to replace the Inca religion (devoted to the sun, stars, moon, and Pachamama (earthmama)  with Catholicism. Of course they enslaved the Incas as labor to build it. The stones for the building were taken from Saqsaywaman, an Inca holy and defensive structure that was located on the hills above Cusco. (also a site where the Spanish were almost defeated by Viraciocha). Being ever spiteful and opposed to any religion but their own, the Spaniards even removed the sand that was  spread on Cusco’s main square, and considered sacred by the Inca’s, and used it in the cathedral’s mortar.

When I first walked through the door I was struck by the ostentation, which to me, represented conceit  and self-importance Spanish hubris.  Gold taken from the Inca’s lit up the otherwise dark place. And, a 99% sterling silver alter plus the trimmings: candlesticks (one of them as tall as I am since I’ve shrunk a bit, ) ceremonial vessels, and other catholic kitsch.

Amusing though, and even made the time worth it,  was a painting of the last supper by Marcos Zapata, a Peruvian Quechua painter born in Cusco.  In the center surrounded by Jesus and his disciples is a platter with a plump cuy (guinea pig) and glasses of chicha, a native drink.

Attached to the cathedral is the Inglesia de la Compania de Jesus and the Iglesia del Triumfo (triumph), the first Catholic Church built after the last battle was won.

Even though I have seen more than enough Christian religious art, I  walked through an art museum devoted to it. Again, I was struck and appalled by the amount of appropriated gold used for the extravagant alter, and the gilded frames for the art work seemed to meto be as priceless as the art itself.

I tried to convince myself that the excessive buildings and art really represented devotion to Christ, a humble man. I couldn’t. I believe they are testament to human greed-man’s hubris.