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The temple of the Company and their adjacent cloisters constitute, the most representative monument in the School Arequipeña, the one that not only exercised their influence in the churches that were built in the surroundings of the city, as those of Cayma, Yanahuara, Paucarpata and Characato, but rather he/she extended for the whole south Andean region until Potosí, in current Bolivia, leaving architectural true jewels as the cathedral of Puno, Santa Cruz of Juli, Santiago of Pomata, San Pedro of Zepita and San Jerónimo of Asillo.

In the Spanish historian's opinion Bernales Archers, is in the cover of the Company of Arequipa where the genuinely mestizo art is born, and where it culminates the process of Hispanic-American transculturización harmoniously. The general outline comes from the peninsula, evidently, but it is native the form of carving the stone, the sensibility a so much page of the relief and the reasons used in the decoration.

The original plans of this magnificent temple were made by Gaspar Báez. Regrettably, the work for him begun in 1578 collapsed in the earthquake of 1582. Eight years later the Jesuit Diego Felipe began the second construction of the temple, following Gaspar's plans Báez. According to Dr. Alejandro Málaga, evidences of a third initiate construction exist around 1650 and concluded in 1667, but they were damaged by the earthquake of 1687. The reconstruction works and restoration you concluded in 1698. The earthquake of 1868 demolished the tower; the new steeple, fact according to different design, it was demolished in the earthquake of 1960.


It consists of two floors or bodies. The inferior floor possesses three streets among double columns. The central street you continues in the upper floor, also among double columns, and it finishes off in a frontispiece trilobulado. In the central street of the first floor he/she is the main solemn door, wooden of cedar and adorned with big nails of the time. On the door, in the second floor there is a beautiful niche that serves as window. A shell avenerada and some rosetas ornament the niche, under which is projected a remarkable bracket or shelf that it sustained a great stone cross in other times, in opinion of P. José Luis Maldonado. The superior frontispiece houses another small niche, before the one which, and have more than enough its respective bracket it highlights a sculpture of ashlar of San Miguel Archangel.

Let us return to the inferior floor. The frieze takes a vine branch or vineshoot with geometric rosetas and some lockets. The four couples of columns rest on a run stone pedestal and with having carved geometric; each column is decorated in its inferior third by molds in zigzag, and they culminate in Corinthian capitals with acanthus columns.

The intercolumnios, that is to say, the lateral streets, they are decorated with cherubs' reliefs and some shields with the words THE YEAR and DE 1698.

On the double external columns of this first floor, above the entablamiento, we can see some pieces of curved and prominent frontons, and on them, some beautiful pinnacles, lightly deviated. In the second floor he/she repeats the ornamental game, in the double columns and in the entablamiento that these sustain; with the difference of the molds in the columns that are in hairspring. In the frieze they are sculpted María's anagrams and José, to the sides, and of Jesús to the center. To both sides of the niche they highlight paths bicephalous eagles, badge of low Habsburgos whose reign the church was built.

When contemplating the general perspective of the facade, the most surprising thing is the profuse decoration that she offers us. All the spaces have been stuffed by ornamental diverse topics in low relief, forming a leafy tapestry that overflows for the sides in beautiful contrast with the flat bottom of the wall that serves him/her as screen, should stand out the ability to intertwine ornamental peninsular elements harmoniously, as the Mudejar ornamentations, or churrigueresque reasons, as clusters of grapes, rosetas or grenades, angels and cherubs, scallops compostelanas and Renaissance mascarones, with Incan elements and preincaicos that reproduce masks nazquenses, or that curious cat-tiger with body of myriapodous, characteristic of the mythology altiplánica. Not they lack, naturally, representations of the local flora, as choclos and cantutas.

Let us observe that lateral beautiful cover now, located to the right of the main facade. Today he/she is closed, but in other times it was good to communicate with the cloisters of the School. To a side he/she can it still turns on the wall a series of inscriptions with red painting, almost erased by action of the time that you/they remember the graduations of the students of Santiago's School that it worked until 1767.


This facade was designed and built by the teacher Simón of Barrientos in 1654. It is considered as one of the oldest samples in the art mestizo arequipeño, because it points out starting points for the complicated tapestry of the main facade. In their originality, it presents reminiscences of previous styles, of century principles.

A very open and high fronton on the arch of half point of the door, houses under a great scallop (symbol of the sanctuary of Santiago Apostle of Compostela) shell, the Apostle's first floor relief Santiago, to who the temple is dedicated. The Apostle appears in warring attitude, mounting horse and with sable on high, beheading Moorish whose heads, together with the emblem of the Stocking Moon are tramped by the paws of the horse. The manes of the animal are unwrapped in an original way in big hairsprings. In the inferior part of the fronton there is a figured bracket, sustained by two mermaids with angel's wings.

The columns with Corinthian capitals are decorated in their inferior part with molds in zigzag, reason that repeats in the columns of the first floor of the main facade. On the capitals there are some friezes that represent San Marcos' León and San Lucas' Bull. On the cornices of the entablemiento, sendos pinnacles produces a harmonic balance. In the intercolumnios we can do a small shelf to the foot of some shields with Jesús (IHS) monogram and an ornamental simple topic. They are also of mentioning the casetones that adorn the jambs and the arch of the door, ornamental more frequent elements at the beginning of the XVII century that in the time in that the church was built, when the Baroque had already sat down its real ones in the architectural style.


The internal distribution of the church corresponds to the plant Jesuit basilical, with a ship main center and two minors to the sides, dome of half orange in the cruise, canyon vaults, sanctuary, sacristy and high choir.

A series of semi ionic columns embedded to thick pilasters separate the arches and they sustain a solid entablamiento, with alquitrabe, friezes and cornices. On the cornices, contrasting with the whiteness of the ashlar of the walls and vaults, a red balustrade circulates for the whole interior contour of the temple. Formerly all the interior surfaces were recovered of policromías like it can still be admired in the old sacristy or chapel of San Ignacio; now it shines the ashlar to face seen.

The altarpiece of the biggest altar is a magnificent composition of the purest style Baroque churigueresco. It is the teacher's entallador work Juan of Rooms who used for their realization 447 cedar pieces and oak, 21 alisos and some sallow sticks and lloque. On the marvel of the one carved in wood is a generous covering of bread of gold that emits fire gleams to the sunbeams. The sacrarium, of embossed pure silver, is the teacher's cuzqueño work Pedro Gutiérrez.

In the right ship there is beautiful other altarpiece, also carved in gold-plated wood. He/she is called "the Altarpiece of the Founders", because in him there are several founders' of religious orders images.

Very near that altarpiece he/she is the pulpit, beautiful work carved in wood and taken a bath in bread of gold.

Near the entrance, in the right same ship, he/she is the Fair Judge's image, beautiful size restored recently: it is the image that each Mars Saint travel in procession the streets of Arequipa. Their altarpiece is of recent making.


The old sacristy of the church, today known as Chapel of San Ignacio, it is a beautiful sample of the art decoratorio arequipeño. It impresses the extraordinary coloring of their walls and dome whose vivacity and intensity stays through the centuries, with hardly slight retouches.

The leafy decoration reproduces a tropical atmosphere, with extensive climbings of exotic flowers that alternate with fruits and legendary birds of vivid colors. It is certain that the constant relationship of the Jesuits from Arequipa with the missions in the tropical forests was the decisive factor for this class of ornamentation.

The dome is of half orange, with a skylight in the peak: On the cornice in the one that is sustained 8 images of saints can be done with their respective relics.


Among all the conventual cloisters lifted in colonial Arequipa they stand out those of the Company notably, not only for their rich ornamentation, but also for their grandiosidad and originality. "The leafy decoration seems to speak to us of its author's inexhaustible imagination and of the desire of not copying anything of that known. Few times it is dable to contemplate something more original and more beautiful", the architect Harth-terré says.

The construction of these cloisters began in 1677 under the direction of Lorenzo of Pantigoso, so famous alarife that bigger "Worker was designated for the reconstruction of the city", after the earthquake of 1687, as Alejandro has investigated Málaga Medina.

An army of peons, among black, Indians and Spanish, he/she worked and it modeled the ashlar carried from the quarries of Chilina. The date of the termination of the works, 1738, it figured in the arch of the entrance up to 1973, when it was removed to open the way to the works of amplification of the cloisters, for decision of Arq. Luis Felipe Remains Silent.

In these atmospheres Santiago's celebrated School worked, the same as Juniorado of the Jesuits, although not for a lot of time. When being expelled Jesús Company in 1767, the Cloisters, the same as their other properties, passed to the administration of San Felipe's parents oratorianos Neri.

In 1788, to application of the Bishop Chávez of Rosa, leaves from the Cloisters it was designated for orphan children's Hospice and foundlings. When being created the Public Charity of Arequipa in 1848, this institution was taken charge of the hospice and for it introduced it reformations in the Cloisters.

In 1921 the Charity agreed to build a more capable local for Orfanatorio in Avda. Goyeneche; for the effect, the Cloisters were divided in eight lots and sold in public auction. The new proprietors modified the beautiful enclosure deeply, it leaves of which was ramshackle, and another part transformed into precarious housings. Finally, in 1971, the Central Hypothecary Bank acquired the old cloisters and it undertook a deep and complete restoration whose result can appreciate nowadays.

The whole group consists of a bigger Cloister, a smaller Cloister and a patio. Embedded to the church and integrated architecturally her, the cloisters show today their old splendor and the imposing character of their 40 atmospheres. The biggest Cloister is of a single plant, with mean arches I paint integrally on weighed pilasters decorated in its four faces. Each board exhibits identical reliefs, of three thick clusters of grapes, papayas, shells, roses, cantutas and removed vine leaves of macetones, as well as winged cherubs, elements all bounded by two shafts that intersect several times. In each key he/she repeats the symmetrical same roseta, and in each lean one a locket with Jesús Latin monograms, María and José; also cherubs and two small figures of San Ignacio and San Francisco Javier.

To the height of a thin architrave, there are some gargoyles for the drainage of the rains, in form of stylized puma. The frieze has rosetas cuadrifolias, and everything finishes off it in a stylized wide cornice.

In the center of the patio it shines a pileta of three bodies with reasons fito and zoomorfos, conduction of Lima.

The smallest Cloister is simpler in its ornamentation, and it follows the general outline of all the conventual cloisters in Arequipa, to exception of that of Recoleta. At the present time the atmospheres of these cloisters are occupied by stores, commercial establishments and kindred entities to the tourism.

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© Copyright 2005 Gualberto Valderrama C.