The famous temple of the sun is the most important! The religious facility of the Inca, and so it is a synthesis of the local organization, architecture, and religion which had reached its development top by 1438. It possibly represented the nave of the world and so the “Navel of the pre-Hispanic Andean world.”
The first Inca ruler Manko Qhapaq ordered the building of the original temple. Nevertheless, the ninth Inca Pachakuteq rebuilt, enlarged, improved, and modernized it in 1438. Other authors named it intiwasi, which means “House of the Sun.” In addition, it is called Inticancha, which means “Palace of the Sun.” While it is the most popular name, Coricancha Temple Cusco means “Golden Palace.”
It was extraordinary, made of gray basaltic andesite stone from Waqoto and Rumiqolqa quarries. The walls are made of medium to large pieces of stone whose outer surface is rectangular. The structure is straight, horizontal, and convex-shaped, like one of the most important temples.
The joints and the assembly between pieces of stone are so tight and perfectly made that they do not allow the insertion of even a “razor blade.” The cross-section structure is “tied up” with “H” shaped bronze clamps or clips in the inner joints, which are fastened together with the lithic pieces to avoid harmful horizontal displacements in case of earthquakes.
The walls also have a decreasing vertical structure, having the more significant pieces of stone in the lower part and decreasing in size so that the smaller ones are on the top. Therefore, the walls are thicker at the base than on the top, with the classical inclination inward balanced with the doorway’s trapezoidal shape, niches, and windows.
Coricancha Temple Cusco features to get walls supported by themselves, making a resistant, solid, anti-seismic structure able to resist lousy earthquake activity; some Inka walls in this building show cracks. However, those cracks are not a result of miscalculations or failed techniques of the Quechua architects but a consequence of changes carried out in colonial times, the earthquakes, and the main exposition to inclement weather and erosion in Incas time. According to some studies, the finely carved stone walls had a continuation of sun-dried mud bricks on the top, making up the very steep roof ends to enable rainwater drainage on the thatched made in wood and straw “ichu” roofing. Ichu is a wild plant used very much to roof the building, which they decorated modest aspects for festivity days in showy multicolored rugs made of special feathers.
Gasparini believes that the so often mentioned by chroniclers as “gold edging,” which served as a crown surrounding the whole outer upper side of the temple, served to disassemble the difference between the fine stone wall and the upper adobe wall.
The floor in the open areas of the temple must have been entirely and finely paved in flagstone, while the bed inside the enclosures was made of kilned clay as a solid ceramic block like the treated floors found in Mach Picchu.
Almost in the same position the present-time entrance to Santo Domingo Convent has, overlooking the Inti pampa (“Plaza of the Sun”), which currently occupies the small plaza in front; according to chroniclers, this was a religious facility made up of temples dedicated to several deities. It had a layout similar to a classical “kancha,” with enclosures around a central patio. According to Cieza de Leon, what covered every doorway in gold plates?
Out stood from all the facilities, taking the space the Santo Domingo Church takes. Its eastern end did completely demolished while the western one still stands partially, making up what is known as the “Solar round building,” which is the semicircular wall overlooking the current Arrayan street and Sol Avenue. The Temple of the Sun had four walls, and the wooden ceiling was covered in gold plates and planks. According to Garcilaso’s description, it must have a rectangular floor plan, with a very high wood and thatched roof for ventilation.
The famous Cusquenian Chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega gives the most exact and extended explanation of this place. The eastern wall of this temple must have been the facade and main altar, which, as it is known, housed a round face and rays and flames sharped in gold plate Sun God allegory. That solar symbol was so huge that it covered the entire temple front due to the treasure distribution among the Spaniard invaders. The golden piece corresponded by casting to Mancio Sierra de Leguizamo, an inveterate gambler who lost it playing dice. The Chronicler Sarmiento de Gamboa thinks that Pachakuteq Inka ordered a layout so that the sun would occupy the principal place along with the Wiraqocha divinity allegory. On its right side, and that one of Chuquiylla (it must be thunder, lightning, and Thunderbolt) to its left side. Also, on both sides of that Sun image, the “Mallki” was the dead Inka King’s mummies or embalmed bodies were placed, according to their antiquity, in a fetal position, and over litters made of solid gold “Coricancha Temple Cusco.”
The moon was the wife of the sun. Therefore the Inca temple of the moon was located on the eastern side of the Solar Temple, “Coricancha Temple Cusco.” It had a rectangular floor plan with the best quality architecture. Unfortunately, it did almost destroyed by to building of the Santo Domingo Catholic Church. One of its gates does still seen on its eastern wall showing the classical trapezoidal niches. Among those niches, the horizontal dark stripe does believe to be the support zone of the silver plates that wholly covered those walls. In the middle part of the temple, there was a silver Moon allegory, and on both sides of it, the embalmed bodies of the dead Qoyas or Queens did locate in their antiquity fashion.
Divided by a narrow passage with an impressive double jamb doorway with 14 angled stones on its outer surface, the temple of Chaska and the Stars (Chaska = Venus star) is located in Inka times. Stars were particular deities considered “the maids of the moon” essential for celestial observation and predicting their relationship to agriculture, prosperity, welfare, etc.
Even today, the Andean peasants (descendants of Incas) observe the brightness of stars making up constellations to foresee their future. For example, there will be droughts during the next farming season when some stars shine. Three temple walls are almost complete, they destroyed the fourth wall toward the west during Colonial times, but they were rebuilt following its original features. Depending on the possibilities, those rebuilt works are sometimes made using the original or other fresh materials.
The temple of Venus is significant and has a wall with 25 trapezoidal niches, which, in most cases, are used to keep some idols’ offerings surrounding it and others related to the cult of the star. In addition, the horizontal stripe, which supported the silver “planks” covering this temple, is located by the middle of the niches. Moreover, this entire enclosure ceiling had star allegories of different sizes, “like the starry sky.” This enclosure had two very high entrance gales, and in the wall, there were two unique trapezoidal niches showing stripe carvings and hollows around, which Garcilaso calls “tabernacles.” They did initially covered in gold plates and planks, and “… on the molding corners there were many enchasing of precious stones such as emeralds and turquoises”. Inside the temple, close to a corner and over the stone wall, a plaster coat shows murals, a souvenir of this fantastic temple colonial invasion. The rear Inca walls did use as foundations for the mud-brick colonial building, still seen on the back wall.
The Temple of “Illapa” or “Chuki lllapa” is located on the other side of the current central patio. Illapa is a deity corresponded by thunder, lightning, and Thunderbolt, considered a “servant of the sun.” According to Inca Religion, lllapa was the “Storms God,” the ruler of rain, hail, snow, and the thunderbolts hurler. Its shrine did decorate with gold. It has three trapezoidal single-jamb doorways, and its current northwestern sidewall is partially rebuilt following its original features. This enclosure is smaller than the previously described temples, with walls showing classical trapezoidal niches and two windows in its lateral walls. There are carved moldings on the upper side of the front wall, which duty is unknown.
The Temple of K’uychi (Rainbow) was located with a similar original size and features. Still, it was partially mutilated to build the Dominican Convent in its northwest part. The Rainbow was another essential divinity in the Inka Society because it came from the sun. The Inca Kings adopted it as their emblem because they boasted of being the sun’s descendants. That temple was adorned entirely in gold, and over one of its walls,s what painted a rainbow over the gold plates covering the whole temple. A trapezoidal window is located precisely in size, shape, height, and level on its eastern wall, along with the other two of the lllapa temple, creating an excellent perspective.
there is an open area on which back wall there are three finely carved channels called “phonic channels” because they sound like “several music notes when being hit.” However, it is true that those channels, which do place on their original ground level, were used to drain the rainwater gathered in the central patio. Similar channels are found in all the facilities or buildings which did not have roofs.
There were several enclosures for the “Willaq Uma” or High Priest and the other priests and spaces for housing the various idols from the submitted or incorporated nations housed inside the Coricancha Temple Cusco. The conquered people were allowed to create their gods in Qoricancha. This housing was on purpose. If there were rebellion attempts in the conquered nations, the reprisals in Cusco were against their gods, and the religious intimidation taking place gave many benefits to the Incas.
A terracing facility reached as far as the edge of the channeled Saphi River, flowing underground Sol Avenue. Those terraces were part of the Qoricancha Solar Garden, probably the most extraordinary example of wealth in this temple. It was an exceptional garden because it contained samples of the regional flora and fauna and even human sculptures in natural size, ornate of gold and silver. Early chroniclers wrote that those sculptures showed many animals, from insects to mammals; plants, from tiny flowers to native trees; human allegories as children, men, and women; and several other precious metal items by Quechua goldsmiths in this exceptional garden. Nevertheless, what argued that chroniclers had written many lies and fantasies about this? Archaeological diggings slowly proved it trustworthy, as they found some golden plant and animal-shaped artifacts. The magnificence, the quality, and the number of items placed in this garden astounded all the conquerors who saw it. They collected those items to make up a part of the conquest booty and later melted them down to make coins or bars easy to travel to Spain. That is one of three reasons why the Peruvian museums are not important lnca artifacts made of precious metals.
Coricancha was the wealthiest, most elaborate, and most dazzling time of the lnca Society, which stored the gold and silver of its territory. Those metals arrived as offerings for the sacred city and the temple. In Inka society, precious metals had no economic value but religion’s principal value.
Some other stuff was even more valuable than gold and silver. For example, the colored shells or “mullu,” which came from the Ecuadorian coasts, were highly appraised because they represented the Mamaqcocha” or “Mother Sea.” Who extracted the Inca gold from diverse veins or mines, and another large part paned in the Amazonian rivers, where gold was found as dust or nuggets in the sand. Silver is abundant in the Andean Countries too.
After distributing houses and palaces during the Spanish invasion, the Coricancha Temple Cusco corresponded to Juan Pizarro. Who donated it to the Dominican Order, represented by the first Cusco City bishop Fray Vicente Valverde. Who immediately carried out the building of their church and convent over the most crucial lnca temple demolishing it (Almost entirely) to adapt it to its new use? An earthquake destroyed that original church on March 31, 1965. The current structure rose, and the tower in 1780 was out of baroque style under Fray Francisco Muñoz. On May 21. 1950 another violent earthquake destroyed a large part of the convent and church. Its tower uncovered many Inka structures and the inner area of the “Solar Round Building.”
By that time, a firm “Andean movement” suggested moving away from the church to return to the sun temple. Pitifully the Catholic Church’s political power did not allow to bring back the central Tahuantinsuyo sanctuary facility rests.
Welcome to Explore the Coricancha Temple – Cusco city tour!