The Koricancha Complex in Cusco: The Temple of the Sun

Koricancha Temple

If you have been reading all about Peru’s history and the Inkas, then you will know all about Machu Picchu; The Sacred Valley and Cusco. Machu Picchu is one of the most famous sites in South America with a mysterious history and a wonderful presence, which is located on the side of a mountain on the fringes of the Amazon Rainforest. People who come to Peru will always visit the famous Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu.

But did you know there are many other equally fabulous ruins and temples that you should not miss?

When in the city of Cusco you should plan a Cusco City tour, this tour will take you to the cathedral on the main plaza and the ruins just outside of the city, but what we will talk about today is the magnificent Koricancha temple in the city of Cusco.

Visiting Peru is on the bucket list of many people, with its varied and wonderous regions and a culture that dates back thousands of years, but when arriving into Cusco do not miss the marvel of the mighty Incas and the Spanish architecture of Korichancha. It is believed that the temple of the sun, was constructed by the first Inca King, Manco Capac and his beloved wife Mama Ocllo, who travelled from Lake Titicaca in the south and settled in the valley that is now Cusco, claiming it to be the centre of the earth.

The temples were built using many different Inca constructional methods, such as vertical inclinations of the walls, trapezoidal shapes of the structures, irregular shapes and rounded edges. The inclination provides the wall with great strength and stability in case of earthquakes.
It is written that the inside walls of the temples of Koricancha were lined in gold and that the temple had a giant gold statue of the sun god Inti, that was taken out of the temple each day and placed in the garden until sunset when it was returned.

All the gold and treasures disappeared upon the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors and the decline of the Incas.

Temple of the Sun

The temple of the sun had a famous garden, entirely devoted to Inti. It is also said that it is here, that many elements of the Inca Empire were used to decorate the garden, including gold and silver. The figures of the temple included corn, llamas, jaguars, birds and many vessels and jars. There are not many of these treasures left today but it is believed that the garden was a spectacular sight.
Korichanca consisted of five temples each dedicated to one of the principal Inca gods. The five temples were Viracocha, known as the creator God, Quilla, known as the Goddess of the moon, Chaska, known as the Inca Venus, Illpa, known as the God of Thunder and Chuchu, known as the Rainbow god. Each one of the temples contained a large amount of gold, silver and even precious stones, there was even a large section within the temple for the mummified remains of the Inka kings and queens. On special occasions, these mummies would be brought out and shown to the public, on these occasions the people heard great stories of the former kings.

Church of Santo Domingo

After the Spanish invasion, the temple of Korichanca was given to Juan Pizarro, the brother of Spanish Conquistador Francisco Pizarro. When he died in the fifteenth century, the site was given to the Dominicans, who still dominate the site today. In the sixteenth century, the church of Santa Domingo was constructed on top of the Inca ruins. The Spanish church of Santa Domingo has been reconstructed several times due to earthquakes but the Inca foundations underneath remain as strong as the day they were built.
It is a great shame that the church was built on top of the Inca complex, however, you must still visit the church on your Peru vacation, for the church is a marvel of Spanish architecture, with wonderful decorative carvings and magnificent vaulted ceilings that are a thing of beauty. Take the time to see the front doors featuring carvings of Santa Domingo, the only place in Cusco where you will be able to see such carvings.
Today when you travel to Cusco, you must visit Korichanca as part of your Peruvian vacation. For a small entrance fee, a world of beautiful art and history awaits you. Make sure to put some money aside for a guided tour, as there is much to learn and once you’re inside, give yourself at least a few hours to explore.
A visit to Cusco will live in your memory for years to come, not only because of ancient history but because of marvellous modern-day Cusco; with its bars, restaurants, fine dining experiences and many vegetarian restaurants in Cusco will delight every one of your taste buds. There is so much to do in Cusco so start planning your vacation to Cusco today!

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