The church of Saint Francis offers tours of both the church and the catacombs beneath it. The cost of the tour is S/. 10 or around $3.00 per person. Unfortunately there are signs all over the place that say no photos with or without flash, and no videos. They offer tours in both Spanish and English, but when you pay for your ticket they do not ask which you want.
Once we got into the waiting room I decided to rig up a way to take pictures incognito. I have a wide angle Moment lens that mounts to my iPhone. When I put the phone in the front pocket of my jeans only the lens sticks out. Between that and my remote shutter button I thought I would try to capture a few shots. The bummer is that my phone is connected to my companies email server which forces down some security policies. One of those shuts my phone off after 2 minutes of no activity which kills my camera app. This means that every minute or so I need to take some random picture to keep it awake. After hanging out in a waiting room for around 15 minutes our tour started, in Spanish. While it would have been nice to have a clue what they were saying, it was great just to be able to walk around and check the place out. This place is huge. There are massive courtyards all over, giant paintings and statues of different saints. They even have a rendition of the last supper that is a bit different from the one we are use to. Unfortunately, due to the extremely harsh lighting I was not able to capture any pictures of the paintings. It was even hard to see them with all of the glare put off by the lighting. I took a ton of pictures, but only a few turned out. Lots of out of focus shots, or really horrible lights washing everything out. All in all I think they capture the essence of the place quite nicely. What the pictures don’t capture is the level of detail in the craftsmanship of this place. From the woodworking to the paintings this place is beautiful.
While we were on our tour up in the balcony a wedding started down below. I can not imagine having my wedding with tourists all around wandering throughout the church. As soon as that wedding was wrapping up, it looked like there was another getting ready to start.
Two things that were really neat were the Library and the Catacombs. The Library houses over 25,000 ancient texts, some of them predating the Spanish conquest. My pictures do not do this room justice. So much history housed in this one room. The catacombs were also great to go down into. It is amazing that they have held up given all of the earthquakes in this region over the years. This place is a labyrinth of passages that lead all over. Some come up in the church, others you don’t know where they lead because they are blocked off to the public. Most of the bones that you can see have been rearranged in crates or into geometric shapes. Below is a small album of the pictures that came out decent.