Qoricancha, The Golden Temple
Qoricancha, the archeological site
The word “Qoricancha” is formed through a combination of two Quechua words: “qori” meaning gold, and “cancha” meaning open ground or enclosure. Qoricancha is also known The Golden Temple. It was the most important religious and political temple for the Incas during Tawantinsuyu period.
It was built using the fine masonry skills for which the Inca have rightly become famous, the massive walls of the complex were built from large stone blocks finely cut and fitted together without mortar. Most walls leaned slightly inwards as they rose in height, a typical feature of Inca Architecture. Many trapezoid doorways and windows allowed access and light to enter the interior spaces and a broad band of gold was added mid-way height around the walls. The doors were also covered in gold sheets, as were the interiors and exteriors of the various temples and the inner side of the perimeter wall was even said to have been studded with emeralds.
Little remains today except some sections of its fine stone walls which hint at the site’s once massive size and the legendary stories which tell of the enormous quantity of gold used to decorate the temples and its golden garden. Many structures of the enclosure were destroyed. Today, only some of its constructions are maintained:
The rainbow was also worshiped by the Incas and had a dedicated temple as well. The upper part is distinguished by the shape of a rainbow, a phenomenon worshiped by the Incas because it came from the sun.
Temple of the Sun
Of all of Qoricancha, the Temple of the Sun was the most important. It was the main altar where the god Inti (Sun) represented in the god Wiracocha (main god of the Incas and other Andean cultures) was worshiped. During the Inca period this enclosure was covered by gold and other precious metals.
Ray, Thunder and Lightning Enclosure
This rectangular enclosure has 3 doors for the ray, thunder and lightning.
Temple of Venus and Stars
As the Sun was God and the Moon was his wife, so the stars were the daughters of the Inca, and servants to the moon. The temple to celebrate the stars was close to the moon but was separated by a small alley, dedicated to Venus. Bone remains of auquenidos were found in a niche, so it is believed that animal sacrifices were made there.
Hall of Sacrifices
This room was named for the rock carved as a sacrificial table in the lower part.
- Temple of the Moon
Not far from the Temple of the Sun rests the Temple of the Moon. Considered to be the wife of the sun, the Moon Temple was an important part of Qoricancha. Sadly, the majority of this temple was also destroyed in order to make room for the Spanish church.
The Solar Garden became almost a warehouse for the offerings brought to honor the Sun God. Consisting of many things such as flowers and other foliage brought from Tahuantinsuyo. Research has suggested that these offerings were made of gold and silver. They were so plentiful that they filled the huge garden. During Colonial time it became Dominican friars’ garden.
In the original Qoricancha there were 5 different fountains and the origin of the water was a secret. Each fountain held a different religious significance, and in true Qoricancha style, were decorated with beautiful metals.
The Gate or the Sacred Alley
A kind of corridor surrounded by two finely carved stone walls. Leads to the main precinct.
Admission time to the Temple is from Monday to Saturday 8:30 am -5:30 pm
Sunday 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
Qoricancha, the Museum
The Qoricancha Archeological Museum exhibits archeological finds from Pre-Inca, Inca and Colonial times. The artifacts have been gathered from a variety of Inca sites surrounding the city. Most of the museum’s pieces were excavated from the Temple of Qoricancha site in the early 1990s.
What can you see in the Museum?:
To help visitors visualize the site, the museum has tried to replicate the interior details of the Inca temple of the sun here.
There are three small rooms here, displaying Inca and pre-Inca ceramics, metalwork, and textile weavings. You can visit the Museum while acclimating to the altitude in Cusco. Visit our website to find out more activities and places you can visit www.inkayniperutours.com
Things you will find inside Qoricancha Museum:
- Ceramic artifacts.
- Ceremonial Vases (keros).
- Tools made of stone for war.
- Shell ornaments.
- Mummified bodies of the Inca Royalty.
- Inca textiles.
- Tools made of wood for domestic use.
- Ponchos made of Alpaca wool.
If you wonder where is the Qoricancha Museum, the following information is for you. It is located underground, under the the esplanade of Qoricancha, at 256 Sol Av., Cusco.
How to get to Qoricancha Museum?
Go to the esplanade of Qoricancha. Once there go down the stairs and you will find the different rooms.
You won’t get lost. It is 10 minutes walking from Plaza de Armas.
From Monday to Sunday: 9:00 am to 18:00 pm.
There is a general entrance ticket to visit all the museums in Cusco. It costs S/.70 PEN. You will visit Historic Regional Museum, Contemporary Art Museum, Pachacutec Monument, Popular Art Museum, Native Art of Qosqo Center, Archeological site of Tipon and Piquillacta.
Qoricancha, the Church
Entrance to both Qoricancha and Santo Domingo church is on Santo Domingo St. (facing the luxury Palacio del Inca hotel).
Interesting facts about Santo Domingo church:
After the Spanish invasion, Qoricancha was given to Juan Pizarro, the younger brother of the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro . Upon his death in July of 1536, it was willed to the Dominicans, who still have ownership of the structure today. In the 16th century, orders to build the Priory were placed. By 1534 the Santo Domingo monastery was founded. Much of Qoricancha was taken apart for construction material which were then used to build the church of Santo Domingo. Over time, the Spanish construction has failed and collapsed several times, it has been rebuilt to its original structure, but the Inca wall structures have remained unchanged and unaffected by the seismic activity of the Young Andes Mountain Range.
It took 3 years approximately to rebuilt Qoricancha.
What can you see?
- Spanish architecture complete with Baroque style decorative carvings and vaulted ceilings.
- Wall paintings made by the “Escuela Cusqueña”. The more outstanding pieces of work are “Saint Vicente Ferrer life’” and “Saint Domingo de Guzmán life”.
- The Baroque pulpit.
- Baroque bell tower built in the early 18th century.
Opening hours and entrance fee:
The entrance into the Santo Domingo church is free if it is during a mass. The mass take place at 7:00 am and at 7:00 pm.
If you want to visit the church at a different time, you have to pay 15 PEN. You can the entrance ticket at the entrance door.
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