Church of San Pedro de Atacama

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Church of San Pedro de Atacama
Iglesia San Pedro de Atacama (in Spanish)
Iglesia de San Pedro de Atacama 01.JPG
Facade of Iglesia de San Pedro de Atacama
Basic information
LocationChile San Pedro de Atacama
El Loa Province, Antofagasta Region
Geographic coordinates22°55′00″S 68°12′00″W / 22.91667°S 68.20000°W / -22.91667; -68.20000Coordinates: 22°55′00″S 68°12′00″W / 22.91667°S 68.20000°W / -22.91667; -68.20000
AffiliationRoman Catholic
Ecclesiastical or organizational statusChurch
Completed17th century
MaterialsMud and Cacti wood

The Church of San Pedro de Atacama (Iglesia San Pedro de Atacama) is a Catholic church in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. Constructed during the Spanish colonial period, it is reportedly the second oldest church in Chile.[1] Indigenous adobe material was used in the church's construction, whose appearance is characterized as simple and elegant.[2][3] The church was built in the seventeenth century, underwent modifications in the eighteenth century, and additions were made in the nineteenth century.[4] The church was declared a historical monument in 1951.[5]


The church is located in San Pedro de Atacama on the west side of the tree-lined Plaza de Armas,[6]) and near the town's oldest building, Casa Incaica, which dates to 1540[1][2][7] San Pedro, originally a locale of indigenous atacameños or Kunzas, now a bustling tourist centre, is 314 kilometres (195 mi) from Antofagasta.[3]

Interior view of Iglesia San Pedro de Atacama


The town's original church was built more than 100 years earlier than the current church.[8] The present church was built in the 17th century during the Spanish colonial rule.[2] The patron saint is Peter.[8] It has undergone many renovations; its present walls are dated to 1744.[3] A tower was a 1964 addition,[8] while other construction occurred in 1978.[8] Restoration work on the 765 square metres (8,230 sq ft) structure occurred in 2009 under the auspices of the Department of Architecture, Antofagasta Region.[9]


The church is constructed of adobe material; there are three doors, an arched stone lintel, and beamed ceiling.[10] Both the interior and exterior are painted white, while the altar is of bright coloring.[8] The walls, roof, and the entrance door are built with algarrobo wood and cardón (cactus wood), and bound together by llama leather, in the technique traditional to the altiplano.[11] The roof is made of large rafters of algarrobo wood that are overlaid with slices of cactus logs. Algorrobo trees are seen along with the pepper trees next to the church.[12][13] The altarpieces inside the church are carved and painted, and the statues here of St. Mary and St. Joseph contain a fluorescent lighting feature.[11][14]


  1. ^ a b Jani, Janak (2009). Chile. Footprint Travel Guides. pp. 227–. ISBN 978-1-906098-78-0.
  2. ^ a b c Samagalski, Alan (2006). Chile & Easter Island. Lonely Planet Publications. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b c "San Pedro de Atacama". Official web site of Government of Chile. Retrieved 22 July 2013.
  4. ^ Núñez, A. Lautaro (1991). Vida y cultura en el oasis de San Pedro de Acatama. Editorial Universitaria. p. 273. ISBN 978-956-11-1959-8.
  5. ^ "IGLESIA DE SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA". (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  6. ^ The Rough Guide to South America on a Budget. Rough Guides. 1 August 2011. pp. 448–. ISBN 978-1-84836-774-6.
  7. ^ Kindersley, Dorling (1 March 2011). DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Chile & Easter Island. DK Publishing. pp. 174–. ISBN 978-0-7566-8391-7.
  8. ^ a b c d e Benson, Andrew; Graham, Melissa (3 August 2009). The Rough Guide to Chile. Rough Guides. pp. 214–. ISBN 978-1-4053-8381-3.
  9. ^ "Iglesia San Pedro de Atacama". (in Spanish). Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  10. ^ Anuario de historia de la Iglesia en Chile (in Spanish). Seminario Pontificio Mayor. 2007. p. 212.
  11. ^ a b Spitzer, Daniel (13 December 2004). Let's Go Chile 2nd Edition: Including Easter Island. St. Martin's Press. pp. 177–. ISBN 978-0-312-33560-1.
  12. ^ Wiebe, Rudy (22 October 2010). Sweeter Than All The World. Knopf Canada. pp. 396–. ISBN 978-0-307-36621-4.
  13. ^ Chester, Sharon (19 April 2010). A Wildlife Guide to Chile: Continental Chile, Chilean Antarctica, Easter Island, Juan Fernandez Archipelago. Princeton University Press. pp. 355–. ISBN 978-1-4008-3150-0.
  14. ^ "Lonely Planet review for Iglesia San Pedro". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 22 July 2013.