Arani and Callapa Churches

World Monuments Watch
Arani and Callapa, Bolivia

1998 World Monuments Watch

The churches of Arani and Callapa are but two examples of the scores of adobe churches in Bolivia that face extinction, despite designation as National Monuments. Callapa is the best preserved 16th century church complex in Bolivia, with church and bell tower set within a spacious atrium with stone arcades and open chapels. Inside the church are the earliest surviving colonial frescoes in Bolivia, highly important painted canvases, and 18th century mural paintings in the baptistery that are a masterpiece of the mestizo-baroque style. The church has been robbed twice, and the roof is unstable and could collapse any time. Such was the case at Arani, an exemplar of the incipient rococo in Andean baroque architecture. In 1993 the presbytery vault crumbled, destroying part of the magnificent high altar retable. Donations from local residents and pilgrims financed restoration of the vault and retable, but the entire structure remains in danger from unstable foundations and inadequate drainage.

Last updated: June 2018.

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