The baroque chapel of the Virgen Purificada de Canincunca was built in the seventeenth century on the site of an important pre-Inca settlement in the Huaro district, near Cusco. Dedicated to the cult of the Virgin de la Candelaria, a popular focus of devotion in the southern Andes of Peru, the church’s walls are decorated with mural paintings featuring textile motifs highlighted with gold leaf and a base decorated with depictions of Andean flora and fauna. This chapel, together with the churches of San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas and San Juan Bautista de Huaro—restored with support and technical assistance from World Monuments Fund—is part of a tourist circuit known as the Andean Baroque Route. The churches are currently under the custody and administration of the Compañía de Jesús. The Canincunca chapel was last restored in 1979, and currently exhibits severe signs of deterioration.
A tourism destination on the Andean Baroque Route
WMF helped facilitate the technical assessment of the conditions of the Canincunca chapel to develop a conservation and restoration plan that also focused on the redevelopment of the church as a destination on the Andean Baroque Route. The study was carried out in 2012 by the team of experts in charge of the conservation of the nearby Church of San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas, a WMF project completed in 2013. The study revealed significant deterioration of the chapel due to insufficient maintenance and inadequate past interventions.
WMF Peru has been working closely with Backus—now Ab Inbev—the leading multinational brewery, to identify other partners to support the restoration of the chapel. WMF also collaborated on negotiations with the Regional Government of Cusco to restore the chapel through “works for taxes”, a public mechanism that promotes private investment in prioritized projects through tax credits. The comprehensive project would include the restoration of the roof, conservation of the chapel’s façade, walls, altar, woodwork, electrical installations, murals, and sculptures, as well as the rehabilitation of the adjacent parish house as a resource center for visitors.
The restoration and redevelopment of the historic Chapel of the Virgen Purificada de Canincunca as a tourism destination on the Andean Baroque Route will help the site regain its splendor and strengthen the identity of the local community. After the completion of the project, the chapel will be more accessible to visitors, who would be able to understand more clearly the artistic importance of the chapel, its history, and the traditions that sustain it.