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Qorikancha : The Temple of the Sun

Photography, Spiritual Significance, TravelChloë RainComment

In Inca times, Qorikancha (Quechua for ‘Golden Courtyard’) was literally covered with gold. The temple walls were lined with some 700 solid-gold sheets, each weighing about 2kg.

There were life-sized gold and silver replicas of corn, which were ceremonially ‘planted’ in agricultural rituals. Also reported were solid-gold treasures such as altars, llamas and babies, as well as a replica of the sun, which was lost. But within months of the arrival of the first conquistadors, this incredible wealth had all been looted and melted down.

Various other religious rites took place in the temple. It is said that the mummified bodies of several previous incas (kings) were kept here, brought out into the sunlight each day and offered food and drink, which was then ritually burnt. Qorikancha was also an observatory from which high priests monitored celestial activities. Most of this is left to the imagination of the modern visitor, but the remaining stonework ranks with the finest Inca architecture in Peru. A curved, perfectly fitted 6m-high wall can be seen from both inside and outside the site. This wall has withstood all of the violent earthquakes that leveled most of Cuzco’s colonial buildings.                                              source: The Lonely Planet: Qorikancha

"Coricancha during Incaic Period (digital reconstruction)." by Martín Rodríguez Pontes - Own work. 

The walls were once covered in sheets of solid gold and its adjacent courtyard was filled with golden statues. Spanish reports tell of its opulence that was "fabulous beyond belief". When the Spanish required the Inca to raise a ransom in gold for the life of the leader Atahualpa, most of the gold was collected from Qurikancha.

The Spanish colonists built the Church of Santo Domingo on the site, demolishing the temple and using its foundations for the cathedral. Construction took most of a century. This is one of numerous sites where the Spanish incorporated Inca stonework into the structure of a colonial building.

Major earthquakes severely damaged the church, but the Inca stone walls, built out of huge, tightly-interlocking blocks of stone, still stand due to their sophisticated stone masonry. Nearby is an underground archaeological museum, which contains numerous interesting pieces, including mummies, textiles, and sacred idols from the site.

The site now also includes the Church and Convent of Santo Domingo.

source: Wikipedia : Qurikancha 

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