It’s nearly impossible to visit without taking note of the 26-foot tall statue of Jesus Christ in Cusco that stands guard over the ancient city, imposing from its perch atop the nearby hill of Pukamoqo.
The statue, called Cristo Blanco (Spanish for “white Christ“), is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. During the day, it towers over the persimmon Spanish rooftops of the former Inca capital; at night, the illuminated idol becomes the city’s North Star, visible from every plaza.
The statue also brims with meaning and metaphor. Its physical stature illustrates the primacy of Catholicism in Peru, and with the erstwhile seat of the Inca Empire in its shadow, the imagery of colonial conquest is manifest.
While Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer may be the South America’s most famous statue of Christ, the white Christ sculpture of Cusco is central to the identity of one of the continent’s most culturally and historically important cities.
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About the Statue of Jesus Christ in Cusco
The funds to create the giant Jesus statue were donated by Arabic Palestinians who had come to Cusco after the Second World War, as a show of gratitude for the city’s welcoming hospitality. A local artist and filmmaker named Francisco Olazo Allende was tapped as the sculptor.
The 8-meter statue was then crafted in the neighborhood of San Blas, which sits just downslope from the summit where the statue stands today. The head was sculpted first, then the hands, the finally the full figure.
It should be mentioned, too, that the hill atop which the statue sits is not devoid of significance. As legend has it, Pukamoqo was a sacred mount to the Incas, as it was used to hold all the various lands they conquered. This was meant quite literally; soil from all reaches of the expansive ancient empire were supposedly brought to the hill.
In this sense, this alabaster statue of Jesus in Peru watches over not just Cusco, but all former Inca lands — from Colombia and Ecuador all the way down to Chile and Argentina.
Cristo Blanco Today
If you visit Cusco, you will certainly see this luminescent white depiction of the Messiah, as it’s visible from most points in the city. But beyond espying it from afar, you won’t regret paying a visit to the statue, as it offers itself as one of the city’s top tourist attractions.
To begin with, it’s very accessible. Many city tour packages include a stop there, and even if you don’t do a full city tour, it’s just a quick 15-minute taxi ride from the central Plaza de Armas (which would cost around $5 USD).
Besides the benefit of getting a closer look at the statue, a visit also places you atop Pukamoqo, which offers one of the best viewpoints of Cusco. A sea of bright, colonial roofs gives way to the matchless Andes Mountains, which contain the secluded sanctuary of Machu Picchu not too far away.
From Pukamoqo, you can simultaneously take in the grandiosity of one of Peru’s greatest cities and feel in your bones the historical and cultural importance of a place where one earth-shaking empire gave way to another.
At the summit, you’ll also find plenty of artisans selling quality handicrafts, so it’s a great place to buy souvenirs to take to your friends and family back home (or to keep for yourself!).
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Visiting the Statue of Jesucristo
There’s an awful lot to see in Cusco, from incredible Spanish architecture to Incan ruins and everything in between. This statue is a classic symbol of Cusco, so one would be remiss not to include it in their itinerary during their visit to TripAdvisor’s #1 South American destination.
If you’re planning a trip and want to work the statue of Jesus Christ in Cusco into your time in the city, we would be more than happy to help arrange a full city tour of Cusco that includes a trip up Pukamoqo. We invite you to contact us through Whatsapp or the Contact Us form for more information.