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Miraflores - Lima 18
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CHURCH AND MONASTERY
The Santa Clara Monastery belongs to the Clarists, female branch of
the Franciscan order, appeared in 1549 under the protection of the
secular town hall of Cusco. At the beginning, it was a house for lay
sisters that sheltered half breed orphan women and native girls descending
from the Incas. It was situated in the square of Chaquilchaca. In
1556, it moved to the house of the conqueror Luis Geronimo de Cabrera,
in the current square of the "Nazarenas". It stayed there until 1622
when the current church built in the public walk was finished.
The work of the Santa Clara Church, performed between 1603 and 1622,
was in charge of the religious Greek Manuel Pablo. The best prove
of its solidness is the fact that it was not seriously damaged by
the earthquake in 1650. For this reason, Santa Clara is one of the
few buildings in Cusco where we find elements used before that date.
Similar to other churches of nuns, the Santa Clara Church has two
doors in the lateral wall. Both are in Renacentist style. One is protected
by bossed pilasters and the other by a couple of Corinthian columns.
The unique tower was previously done and belongs to the baroque of Cusco.
Their pearl colored floors, of only one nave, as well as the cross vaults covering it, are obvious signs of the time it was built. The coffered ceiling of the high chapel also proves that as it has golden big flowers. The walls of the Presbytery still keep the decorative mural paintings performed by Juan de Alba in 1646. Among adornments and modillions, we can admire the nobiliary coat of arms of the sponsors of this community.
Including the high altar, all the retablos are all covered by mirrors according to the style used in the city at the end of the XVII century. The original structures are probably under them, and they are of baroque style carved by Pedro de Oquendo and Juan Esteban Alvarez. In the main chapel, the most outstanding features are some images of good carving work representing the Franciscan saints.
Canvases of the life of the Virgin
The main decoration of the temple is based on a series of big canvases of the life of the virgin hanging on the lateral walls of the Presbytery. The paintings date from the time of Mollinedo and were worked by an important anonymous master in 1697. The same year that the jointer Pedro Fernandez de Oquendo carved amazing golden frames with Salomonic columns that definitely composed a harmonic group with the old retablos. An unusual detail is the choral grate of the nuns in the wall of feet that goes from the high to the low choirs. Its sharp metallic ends of protection make us remind the severe rules of the monastic confinement and its definitive separation form the external world.
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