Of the many monuments that surround Cusco – the Millenary City of the Incas – none has aroused as much interest as the TEMPLE OF THE SUN or (Coricancha, Koricancha, Qoricancha or Qorikancha), the main Inca Sanctuary, whose magnitude and layout, today we try to unravel.
This monumental temple was destroyed and looted by the Spanish conquerors in the distant past, but its magnificence remains proof of ancient precision engineering, and wonders of a civilization lost in time. Today, the ruins of the ancient temple are fused with a church and Convent—Santo Domingo—builtancient fathers of the Order of Preachers.
The enigmas to be deciphered are many, despite countless studies carried out after the reports collected by the chroniclers, it remains a profound mystery as to how the ancient builders managed to erect a monument with walls and structures that seem as if they were built using laser technology.
Of its former splendor, only some interior spaces are preserved by the current Christian Convent of Santo Domingo, and an exterior wall of soft curvature associated with two fountains that correspond to the Killke and Inca periods, a work of perfect engineering, which allows us to imagine how this sacred Inca construction may have actually looked like in the distant past.
Its internal walls, embedded and molded with millimetric precision, surprise even more when it is known that during the Inca Empire they were not ‘naked’, but that all the walls of the temple, according to Garcilaso de la Vega who wrote about Coricancha in the late sixteenth century, “were covered from top to bottom with massive gold planks.”
The ancient Coricancha temple had a massive artificial garden, in which everything: trees, hedges, flowers, birds, pots, pitchers, jars, a fountain, figures of men, women, and children were made of gold.
In the courtyard, there was also a “cornfield” whose plants were all silver and the cobs covered in gold.
The field covered an area of one and a half hectares of gold corn.
The ancient temple was built using andesite stone from the quarries of Waqoto, located around 7 kilometers from the city of Cusco. However, the structure features walls of diorite that according to some authors correspond to the structure of what was the first temple.
The Temple of the Sun (Coricancha) is part of a beautiful complex composed of several temples.
In the vicinity of the temple of the sun, we find the temple of the moon.
The temple of the moon was located near the Temple of the Sun since the Moon was considered the wife of the Sun.
This building was lined with silver planks, with the representation of the Moon made in silver.
Inside were the mummies of the Coyas placed in order of antiquity.
Approximately half of the Temple was demolished by the Spaniards to build the nave—the central aisle of a basilica church—of the church of Santo Domingo.
It occupies part of the western side of the inner courtyard of the Qorikancha.
The temple of Venus and the stars is another monument which his part of the Coricancha complex.
It is located in the vicinity of the Temple of the Moon but separated by a beautiful alley, dedicated to Venus and the seven goats and all the other stars.
The ancient Incas referred to Venus as “Chasca” which means star.
It is found on the western side of the inner courtyard of the Qorikancha.
The temple of Illapa or Chucki Illapa. Illapa or ChukiIllapa mean lightning, and thunder at the same time. The temple in question is located in front of the temple of Venus, has three simple jamb doors, equidistant and slightly trapezoidal, and also features a window on each side of the wall.
The Temple of K’uychi or Arco Iris.
This is the temple where the ancient Inca worshiped the rainbow. According to ancient belief, the rainbow came from the Sun.
It has the same architectural characteristics as the Temple of Illapa.
A part of this temple was demolished by the Spaniards to build the buildings of the Convent of the Dominicans. It located north of the Illapa Temple and in front of the Temple of the Moon, the eastern side of the inner courtyard of the Qorikancha.