Qoricancha – Templo del Sol

November 4th, 2006

The Temple of the Sun, mostly destroyed by a Dominican church built on top, is a prime example of the clash of cultures that took place; and who dominated who.

Qoricancha was a monumental building, several blocks away from the main square of the Inca city. It was where the highest priests in the empire were based. The building was lined with gold; the walls were gold plated, there were thousands of gold statues, idols and altars. At the central point of worship was a gigantic sun disk of pure gold off which the sun reflected and lit the courtyard.
Gold was not valued by the Incas because it was rare or precious in the same way as the Spanish valued it. For the Incas the metal was merely the closest earthly element that was similar to the brilliance of the rays of the sun and thus gold was at the center of all their worshipping of the sun. Silver similarly represented the light of the moon.
The sun still shines to this central point and during the summer solstice to the seat of the highest priest. The building also functioned as the main astronomical observatory.

When the Spanish arrived in Cusco, one of the first things they did was ransack the temple killing those inside and stealing all the gold. As they melted down all the golden artefacts, nothing now survives. Francisco Pizarro gave the ransacked remains to his brother, who soon died in a battle with the Incas at Sacsayhuamán. He left the building to the Dominicans who built a church on top of it.

Inside the Dominican church, parts have been stripped away revealing Inca rooms built with perfect Inca walls, as my photos reveal.

Photos below

Tags: , ,