The Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the Cordillera Blanca valley in 1532 and founded Yungay in 1540. They were accompanied by members of the order of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, who lent their name to the town’s Catholic church. It was built in the heart of the town, on the east side of the Plaza de Armas.
Most of the church was buried by the landslide, although the very top of the bell tower is still visible above ground. Listen to survivor Lucho Cachay describe how people ran to the Church for salvation when the landslide struck that Sunday afternoon in 1970.
A few meters away from the church, survivors constructed a stone altar made with one of the boulders that came down from the Huascarán. Every year, on May 31st, a mass takes place here to commemorate the earthquake. Mourners fill the Campo Santo. The congregation looks towards the Huascarán. The church of Santo Domingo expands to fill the entire space, creating a link with the new temple.