Plaza de Armas was definitely an extremely beautiful square surrounded by colonial-type arcades and some of the nicest buildings we had seen so far. On one side the Compañia de Jesus Church and the Cathedral of Cusco on the other.
The Compañia de Jesus Church is said to have been built over the Huayna Capac and its construction started in 1581 was undertaken at the same time as the Cathedral's. Its initial structure was destroyed in the earthquake that struck Cusco in 1650, though immediate works were initiated soon after to make it more luxurious and the same height as the Cathedral, which caused permanent conflicts between ecclesiastics, particularly because the church was finished in 1671, seventeen years before the completion of the Cathedral's construction.
The Cathedral was constructed over the old Temple of Wiracocha and elevated from Church to Cathedral in 1536. Its remodelling initiated in 1560 took 94 years. We unfortunately didn't manage to visit it, despite having tried. I was particularly interested in having had access to its interior to appreciate the main Altar said to be covered in layers of beaten silver and the golden tabernacle studded with pearls, emeralds, diamonds and a dragon made of one piece of emerald.
Its right Tower houses the famous Maria Angola bell (1659) whose knell is audible 20 kilometres away. It should be mentioned that the initial church was constructed in homage to the Virgin Mary that is said to have miraculously saved the Spanish from death during the Manco Inca's siege of Cusco. To its left stands the Church of Jesus and Mary.
Having walked around the side streets so as to buy the latest souvenirs, we then decided to rest in the main square, where I ended up distributing the last lollipops, balloons and hand-drums to some local children.
As we sat looking at the bustling atmosphere we witnessed the tiredness of a school boy in a rather exquisite safari-looking school uniform, as he waited for his mother to collect him. Whether it was genuine tiredness or the heat, which we all felt we don't know ... but it almost felt like we wanted to follow suit.
In a last effort to take advantage of the last afternoon in Cusco, Marie Hélène and I slowly made our way up the hill to San Blas to buy some coloured woven tennis shoes. As we were getting back down we saw a whole group of brass band musicians making their way along one of the narrow side streets and later as we made it to the centre realised there was some preparation going on for some religious ceremony, as we came across some people dressed up as religious figures, as if just taken from the Bible.
We finally made it to the Town hall square where we had desperately attempted to take some photos earlier, but the sun was still praying a trick on us and the photos were not worth taking.
(To be continued)