Coricancha Temple Cusco – Peru
The Coricancha was a religious complex in the Inca Empire. It is estimated that around 1.5 million tourists visit Cusco every year. The highest concentration of tourists is in June, when the historical celebration of the Inti Raymi (the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere) takes place.
The Coricancha is one of the major tourist attractions in Cusco, Peru. It contained the Temple of the Sun, the Inca world's center. The ruins are located in Santo Domingo Plaza in Cusco. When the Spanish arrived in Cusco, they destroyed most of the Coricancha and built the Santo Domingo Church on the foundations preserving only a small part of the original beauty.
Sections of the fine outer and inner stone walls and the legendary tales of the enormous quantities of gold used to build the temples and a plain entryway into the complex are what remain today.
History of Coricancha
The Coricancha, also known as the Koricancha, Qoricancha, or Qorikancha (The Golden Temple), was initially named Intikancha or Intiwasi. It was dedicated to the deities of the Inca. These include the Creator god Viracocha, the god of the sun, and the moon goddess.
The Coricancha is believed to have been built by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the 9th Inca ruler (1438 – 1471 CE). Built using the fine masonry skills of the Inca, the complex was built using large stone blocks that were finely cut and fitted together without mortar. Most walls leaned inwards slightly as they escalated in height, a typical feature of Inca architecture.
The walls and doors were covered in sheets of gold, and a courtyard was built in honor of the great sun god Inti filled with golden statues. It was described as “fabulous beyond belief” by the Spanish, who later used most of the gold as ransom for the life of their leader Atahualpa.
Most of the temple was destroyed after the 16th Century war with the Spanish and used as the foundation of the 17th Century Santo Domingo Convent.
Main Attractions of Coricancha
The Inca leader Huayna Capac 1493-1527, gave a special status to the temple and ordered all wealthy citizens to visit. That led to a robust presence of influential people in Cusco, strengthening the empire. It allowed the state to be favored during revolutionary movements. The following are the sites that were the main attractions at Coricancha:
The Temple of the Sun
That was the most important of the temples at the complex. It was dedicated to the god of the sun, Inti. The temple’s interior and exterior walls, situated in the northern corner of the complex, were covered in gold. That was considered the sweat of the sun. It took up a large chunk of the Santo Domingo Church, which stands in its place today.
There were gold artifacts related to the god’s worship, a gold statue of Inti encrusted with Jewels. Several mummies of previous rulers and their wives were found before the temple was destroyed. It is believed that the temple was protected by Mamaconas, the priestess of the sun.
Temple of the Moon
A short distance from the temple of the sun lies the ruins of the temple of the moon. The moon was considered the sun’s wife, so the moon temple was an essential part of Coricancha. It was lined beautifully with silver and with symbols of the moon. This temple was also destroyed as they built the Spanish Church.
The Temple of Venus and the Stars
As earlier stated, the sun was the god and the moon its wife. The stars were then believed to be the Inca daughters and servants to the moon. This temple was close to the moon, separated by a small lane dedicated to Venus. That is where Inca was divinized for celebrations that would take place in the courtyard.
The Incas also worshiped the rainbow. That was why they had a temple dedicated to it. They believed that rainbows were produced by the sun. However, most of this temple was also destroyed to make room for the Dominican convent buildings.
The Solar Garden
This garden was a storeroom for the offerings brought by the subjects to honor their god, the sun. There were so many things like flowers and other foliage brought from Tahuantusuyo. It is said that these offerings were made of gold and silver. There was so much that it filled the vast garden. During the Spanish colonization, it became a Dominican friars’ garden.
There were five different fountains in the original Coricancha, and the origin of the water was kept secret. Each spray held other religious importance and was decorated with beautiful metals in true Coricancha style.
Cusco´s other attractions
Cusco Food Specialties.
As in every other city globally, Cusco has its food specialties that every tourist must try. Cusco is considered the second gastronomy city in Peru and has the best cuisines in the Peruvian Andes. Here are two of the city’s dishes that must not be missed during your trip;
Cuy – Guinea Pig
This delicacy is Cuy (pronounced COOee), or guinea pig is an important food source amongst indigenous groups in South America, in the Andes Region. Ancient Peruvians supplemented their diet with the guinea pig, and this custom still exists today. Curry can be prepared, baked, fried, and served with potatoes and stuffed pepper. We prepare Pachamanca with guinea pig on alternative treks to Machu Picchu like the Salkantay Trek.
The alpaca looks like a small Ilama. The difference is that Ilama is used for transport, while alpaca is mostly raised to produce fiber. Meat from alpaca is more tender than Ilama meat. The steak can be served with potatoes, rice, and vegetable.
Visit the Mercado San Pedro farmers Market to tease your taste buds with more of Cusco’s food specialties. One of the top destinations in the Southern part of the Americas, Peru is well described by the Coricancha and its rich history. It should be top of your travel bucket list.