This daytrip from Lake Titicaca is about as offbeat as you can get.
Despite being relatively close to the world-famous Lake Titicaca, Lampa, Peru is not where you’d expect to find a grand old colonial church or a freaky collection of skeletons.
And yet, here they are.
After making your way to the church, you’ll need to find the person able to let you in. This may not be a challenge, as there’s unlikely to be a crowd when there isn’t a service. Keep your eye out, pay them, and they’ll take you through.
The Iglesia Santiago Apóstol dates from the 16th century, when this town served as a Spanish colonial outpost. The part you’re coming to see dates from the 20th century, when a mid-20th century engineer and politician named Enrique Torres Belón designed a tomb for he and his wife to rest in piece. That’s a replica of the Pietà, in case that Renaissance Art class you took your freshmen year isn’t quite coming back to you.
Peer in the silo-like building through one of four small windows. (Tripod-bringers, be aware there’s limited space to set up shop – you might be able to make it work, but it’ll be tight.)
Beyond simply creating a space for he and his wife to rest, the engineer exhumed hundreds of skeletons from local cemeteries and the crypt under the church to give them a better (?) resting place. (I’m not actually sure this is better than the relative privacy of your very own coffin or the anonymity of a crypt with thousands of other occupants. Still, decisions were made.)
Skulls and crossbones.
While this sunken silo is the main reason you’ve come here, do take in the rest of church (or at least humor the quasi-tour-guide):
I have no idea.
A nice glimpse at the Last Supper. Normally this is something only seen from outside the room, but we were gestured past the gate. (It also turns out that a hidden corner makes for a great storage space – churches have to be practical, after all.)
Well-kept up, though it doesn’t seem to be in much use the other six days of the week.
This won’t be up every traveler’s alley, thanks mostly to its location. It does tend to keep the casual tourists at bay, setting you up to be the only ones around. Be sure to note the hours below!
Name: Tomb of Enrique Torres Belon
Address: Plaza de Armas de Lampa, Lampa, Peru (GPS: -15.3650 -70.3669)
Directions: It’s tricky by public transportation, but a relatively easy drive if you’ve rented a car or motorcycle. By bus from Lake Titicaca / Puno, make your way to Juliaca via the dedicated terminal with minivans leaving frequently. This is at the intersection of Rosendo Huirse and Ricardo Palma (Terminal de bus a Juliaca on Google Maps – GPS: -15.841164, -70.020411). Expect this to be 45-50 minute ride and cost around 3.50 soles.
This is just the first leg, though. Once at the Juliaca terminal, look for a minivan to take you to Lampa (the one we caught started from parking space #8). This should cost around 2 soles. Wherever you end up arriving in Lampa, look up – this church is the tallest thing around.
Hours: 9:00am-12:00pm and 2:00pm-4:00pm
Admission: 3 soles
Ratings out of 5 globes (How do I rate destinations?)
Ease to arrive:
Worth the visit:
Ready for something more mainstream? Check out my friend’s guide on how to get to Machu Picchu.
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Also published on Medium.