El Complejo de Belén

sights / Architecture

El Complejo de Belén information

Location
Cajamarca , Peru
Prices
adult/student S5/2
Opening hours
9am-1pm & 3-6pm Tue-Sat, 9am-1pm Sun
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Construction of this sprawling colonial complex, church and hospital of Belén, made entirely from volcanic rock, occurred between 1627 and 1774. The hospital was run by nuns and 31 tiny, cell-like bedrooms line the walls of the T-shaped building. The facade here has a fascinating statue of a woman with four breasts – it was carved by local artisans and supposedly represents an affliction (supernumerary nipples, that is) commonly found in one of the nearby towns.

The baroque church next door is one of Cajamarca’s finest and has a prominent cupola and a well-carved pulpit. Among several interesting wood carvings, one extremely tired-looking Christ sits cross-legged on his throne, propping up his chin with a double-jointed wrist and looking as though he could do with a pisco sour after a hard day’s miracle working. Look out for the oversized cherubs supporting the elaborate centerpiece, which represents the weight of heaven. The outside walls of the church are lavishly decorated. The tourist office is housed in one of the interior complex rooms.