The Colca Valley is famous as an ideal spot for adventure sports and nature watchers. It is also rich in tradition, as can be seen in the variety of religious festivals and colorful arts and crafts. However, it is also known as "the valley of wonders", and offers a string of towns featuring superb colonial works of art, such as churches, including:
On the left bank:
Chivay (3,650 meters / 160 km from Arequipa)
The main town in the area. Its church, Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, features a seventeenth-century Baroque altarpiece, a sixteenth-century guilt tabernacle and a series of murals depicting the baptism of Christ and the apostles painted between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Yanque (3,580 meters / 10 km from Chivay)
This town was the base of the Franciscan missionaries who settled in the area. The church, Inmaculada Concepción, is a unique local Baroque-style construction. The church features an imposing façade, a series of neoclassical painted altarpieces and a sixteenth-century silver cross borne aloft in processions.
Achoma (3,680 meters / 18 km west of Chivay)
The town church, built in the late eighteenth century, features rococo decorations in its chapels and along its columns. Inside the church are murals, a neoclassical altarpiece and a pulpit dating back to the eighteenth century, plus dozens of statues.
Maca (3,400 meters / 23 km west of Chivay)
The town, built on the slopes of the Sabancaya volcano and Mount Hualca-Hualca, features a striking church dedicated to Santa Ana, with a façade decorated with arches and sacred imagery. The church still houses guilt Baroque altars, the tabernacle and the image of the crucified Christ carved in the sixteenth century.
Pinchollo (3,390 meters / 27 km from Chivay)
The town, famous for its miniature altarpieces, features a church dedicated to San Sebastián, where one can find interesting Renaissance and Baroque altars as web as a skillfully decorated doorway that resembles a giant altarpiece.
Cabanoconde (3,200 meters / 65 km from Chivay)
The town, which marks the start of the Cabana lands, is home to the church of San Pedro Alcántara, an imposing wooden construction built in the eighteenth century with two bell towers decorated with haut-relief images of the sun, the moon and the stars. It stands out for its neoclassical doorways and the Inca-inspired atrium wall. Inside the church one can find a series of images of Christ crucified and the crowning of the Virgin, typical of the eighteenth century.
On the right bank:
Coporaque (3,700 meters / 8 km west of Chivay)
Its church, Santiago Apóstol, is the oldest in the valley, with a sixteenth-century Italian-design façade. The church guards important religious treasures such as silver relics and chasubles. The church also conserves remains of its primitive main altar and fine images dating back to the sixteenth century, depicting the crowning of the Virgin, the Señora Candelaria, Santa Ursula, La Dolorosa and San Antonio Abad.
Ichupampa (3,710 meters / 19 km west of Chivay).
Its church dates back to the late eighteenth century, with an interesting façade, plus sculptures of San Francisco and Santa Rosa de Lima.
Lari (3,390 meters / 27 km west of Chivay).
The town church, Purísima Concepción, is the largest in the valley and was built in the mid-eighteenth century. Inside one can find a set of painted altars, a magnificent pulpit and a statue of the Immaculate Conception.
Madrigal (3,200 meters / 50 km west of Chivay).
Its church, Santiago de Madrigal, is one of the oldest in the valley, having been built in the last 30 years of the sixteenth century.
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