2016 World Monuments Watch
Today a fashionable coastal neighborhood known for its brightly painted houses and a bustling nightlife, Barranco started out as a fishing village. The origin of La Ermita speaks of that maritime heritage: according to local folklore, a group of fishermen lost at sea spotted a light ashore after praying for salvation. When they approached the site, all they saw was a wooden cross. It was there that these fishermen built a shrine during the second half of the eighteenth century that would be replaced almost a century later with a church—the first in the village. Today’s La Ermita continues to overlook the ocean, but it dates to 1901. It is an earthen building in a Neo-Gothic style, built to a Latin-cross plan, with a lightweight barrel-vaulted roof and a single dome.
The church was closed after a 1940 earthquake damaged the adobe masonry structure. Several interventions in the two following decades altered the church’s appearance, including the bell towers, which were rebuilt in 1960. Despite several attempts at restoration, La Ermita has remained closed to the public. Unfortunately, the passage of time has not been kind to the church building and the roof is now almost completely collapsed.
Recently, the municipality expressed its commitment to the restoration of La Ermita, so that it can join the other cultural attractions—museums, galleries, artist workshops—that are helping to revitalize Barranco. A master plan aims to connect La Ermita to Barranco’s main plaza as part of a tour route. The 2016 World Monuments Watch aims to highlight the opportunity for the restoration of this emblematic site and support the municipality’s ongoing efforts for its revitalization.
Since the Watch
Emergency conservation works funded by the archdiocese of Lima were carried out from February to July, 2016. Intended to halt the building’s deterioration until a complete restoration plan can be implemented, these works included, among other measures, cleaning, fumigation, and cataloguing of the building’s historic fabric.