Qoricancha - Inca Sun Temple

Santo Domingo Church & Koricancha / Qoricancha (Inca Temple of the Sun)


Plazoleta Santo Domingo, Cusco. Admission S/.10 Open 8.30am-5.30pm Mon-Sat, 2-5pm Sun


Santo Domingo was built in the 17th century on the walls of the Koricancha Temple of the Sun. The uninspiring Baroque decoration of Santo Domingo makes a poor contrast to the superbly crafted Inca masonry - in fact much of the cloister has been gutted to reveal four of the original chambers of the great Inca Temple. The finest Inca stonework in existence today is the curved wall beneath the west end of the Church.


In Inca times the walls of the Koricancha were lined with 700 solid-gold sheets weighing two kilos a piece. There were life-size gold and silver replicas of corn, golden llamas, figurines and jars. All that remains today is the stonework; the conquistadors took the rest - unfortunately all the exquisite treasures ended up being melted down; nothing survived. However the fist conquistadors to arrive did not remove the holiest religious symbol of the empire, the golden sun disc, though they reported its existence. This solid gold disc, far larger than a man, mysteriously vanished before the main party of Spaniards arrived. It has never been found to the present day. The disc was positioned to catch the morning sun and throw its rays into the gold-lined temple, filling it with radiant light and bathing the mummies of the dead Inca rulers in sunshine which were seated in niches along the walls.


The entire temple complex was also an intricate celestial observatory. Every summer solstice, the sun's rays shine directly into a niche - the tabernacle - in which only the Inca was permitted to sit. Along with the main temple dedicated to the Sun, there were others for the adoration of lesser deities - the Moon, Venus, Thunder and Lightning, and the Rainbow.

Museo del Sitio de Qorikancha


Avenida El Sol, Cusco (down Avenida El Sol just past the turning left for the Qoricancha). Admission included with the Boleto Turistico.

Not much to say about this rather small, uninteresting, underground archaeological museum apart from the fact that if it wasn't included on the Boleto Turistico not many people would make the effort to go. Enough said.

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