Lampa ’s huge church in the shape of a Latin cross reflects the fact that Lampa had many more inhabitants—as much as 50 times its current population, some historians say—when a dozen silver mines operated in the area. Construction on the Iglesia Santiago Apóstol began in 1675, the same year Lampa was founded.
Like the bridge to the south of town, the church was built of calicanto, a combination of lime mortar (cal) with river stones (canto rodado). The church was immaculately restored in the 1950s by a mining engineer and the town’s favorite son, Enrigue Torres Belón (1887–1969), who even went to the Vatican to get a rare copy of Michelangelo’s Pietà.
The interesting things about this church are its huge colonial paintings, a pulpit every bit as elaborate as that of San Blas in Cusco , and extensive catacombs that are crisscrossed with mysterious Inca tunnels from an earlier temple.
In a side area of the church, the Torres Belón mausoleum offers an interesting comment on mortality and is proof of the slogan “He who lives longest laughs last.” While Torres Belón and his wife rest comfortably beneath thick slabs of marble, the skeletons of hundreds of priests, hacienda owners, and Spanish miners hang on the walls of the round chamber above. The bones were transferred here after Torres Belón ordered the catacombs filled with cement to shore up the church’s foundations. In this way, the last remains of generations of colonial nobility became mere adornment for the tomb of a modern-day mining engineer.
There are half a dozen homes worth visiting, including the Casona Chukiwanka in the Plaza Grau, from which Simón Bolívar addressed the town during the independence wars. A few homes have patios paved with the white and black stones from Lake Titicaca’s Isla Amantaní , which are laid out to form huge game boards. One house features a chessboard, while others have popular colonial gambling games, including juego de la oca, a sort of craps table with odd animal figures. The rules have long since been forgotten.
A highly recommended bike or drive from Lampa  leads south on good dirt roads for 76 kilometers before joining the road to Cusco  at Ayavari. From Lampa, the attractions packed along this route include a forest of queñua (Polylepis incana)—the tree known as lampaya in Aymara and the probable origin of Lampa’s name.
Next along this route come three rough tombs, or chullpas, from the Colla culture; the well-preserved remains of two colonial mines; a huge forest of Puya raimondii; and bizarre geological formations at the Tinajani Canyon. Buses do not run this route, unfortunately. Another road leads six kilometers west of town to Cueva de los Toros, a cave with animal carvings and funerary towers similar to those at Sillustani .