A Jewel of Andean Baroque Architecture
Located in Marcapata, an Andean town 3,100 meters above sea level whose climate is influenced by its proximity to the upper jungle, the church of San Francisco de Asís was built between the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. It exemplifies Andean baroque architecture, which emerged from the intersection of Spanish and local culture during the colonial period. It is one of the few religious buildings in Peru that maintains a thatched roof (supported in this case by a frame of wood and reeds), giving this important site its special character. For over four centuries, the thatch cover has been changed every four years in a ceremony involving nine nearby communities in a week-long celebration called repaje in Spanish or wasichacuy in Quechua. This ritual was declared National Intangible Heritage by the Peruvian Ministry of Culture in 2015.
Damage and Deterioration
The church has suffered damage due to natural aging and insufficient resources for its maintenance. In the absence of appropriate drainage, rainwater infiltration has caused the internal structure of the roof to deteriorate, leading in turn to damage to the murals that decorate the walls and ceiling of the church. In addition, the transmission of the repaje skills from generation to generation is threatened by changing community demographics.
2010 World Monuments Watch
Since the inclusion of San Francisco de Asís de Marcapata on the 2010 World Monuments Watch, World Monuments Fund (WMF) has encouraged local and regional stakeholders to join efforts to undertake condition assessments. As a result, in 2017, WMF Peru began work to complete the necessary studies for the conservation of the church. This conservation management plan, finalized in early 2021, provides the groundwork for restoration and conservation at the site.
At a public event in July 2021, the Regional Office of the Ministry of Culture in Cusco handed over the restoration documents put together by WMF Peru, the Archdiocese of Cusco, and the Parish of Marcapata to the Marcapata communities. In mid-October 2022, the restoration and conservation of the church had finally begun with an interdisciplinary team, including nine mural restorers. Within the first weeks of work, the team uncovered new mural paintings at the site.
By April 2023, the works at Marcapata resumed with a meeting with representatives of the nine communities involved in the repaje tradition. In addition, WMF Peru signed a new agreement with the Regional Office of the Ministry of Culture in Cusco and the Archdiocese of Cusco to ensure the execution, supervision, and restoration work by the Ministry of Culture in Cusco of this historic monument.
World Monuments Fund safeguards cultural heritage around the globe, ensuring our treasured places are preserved for present and future generations.
Sign up for our newsletter to receive regular updates on our projects, stories from the field, upcoming events, and more!
World Monuments Fund’s work at San Francisco de Asis de Marcapata has been made possible, in part, by the Archdiocese of Cusco, the Parish of Andahuaylillas, the Parish of San Francisco de Asís of Marcapata, the Society of Jesus, and the Regional Office of the Ministry of Culture in Cusco.