El Complejo de Belén

Historic Building in Cajamarca

Construction of this sprawling colonial complex, comprising a church and hospital 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 baroque church next door is one of Cajamarca’s finest and has a prominent cupola and a well-carved pulpit. Art exhibitions usually adorn the interior.

Among several interesting wood carvings in the church is one of an extremely tired-looking Christ sitting cross-legged on a 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.

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