Santuario de Mama Ashu

Top choice in Huaraz & the Cordilleras

Chacas’ showpiece building, dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption, is not just a work of art but an admirable rehabilitation project, courtesy of a charitable Italian priest. The original church was constructed in 1587 in adobe brick, but radically rebuilt after earthquakes in the 1970s. The present renaissance-style beauty with its dramatic wooden door was completed in the 1980s, inspired by Padre Ugo de Censi and the Don Bosco wood-carving cooperative he created.

The interior is rich in detail. The original baroque altarpiece dating from the early 1700s and sculpted from Nicaraguan cedar was restored by the Don Bosco coop who also applied their prodigious talents to the rich choir stalls and intricate side altars. Equally beguiling is the fully functioning organ and a large painting on the west wall depicting Padre Ugo de Censi (now in his 90s) and his remarkable story.

After looking inside the church, go around the back and have a free peek at the similarly impressive parochial house and its open-to-all courtyard, a lavish collection of skillfully carved balconies and balustrades.