Qoriqancha - Santo Domingo Convent, Cusco
It would be very difficult to speak about the Santo Domingo Church and Convent without also speaking about Koricancha as their histories are inextricably intertwined. The Church of Santo Domingo and Convent of today sits on what was once one of the most important temples in the expansive Inca empire --- The Temple of the Sun known in the Inca Quechua language as "Koricancha," which means "golden courtyard or enclosure." Some believe the construction of Koricancha began around 1200 AD. Santo Domingo Church was consecrated in 1633, though building began much earlier.
As much as we know that Koricancha was dedicated to the worship of the sun god, "Inti," we now know that it was a also used as a celestial observatory and that other temples also existed here for the worship of other though less important gods of nature: the moon, Venus, thunder, lightning, and rainbows. The inter-sanctum of Koricancha once displayed the great wealth and strength of the Inca empire in the form of hundreds and hundreds of solid gold panels covering the walls, as well as golden statues, altars and an enormous golden disc which represented the sun itself. All the gold and many of the priceless artifacts were plundered by the Spanish when the Inca were conquered and Cusco fell under their rule, but the golden sun disc was never found.
"The sun disc reflected the sun and bathed the temple in light. During the summer solstice, the sun still shines directly into a niche where only the Inca chieftain was permitted to sit." ~ from "History of Koricancha and Santo Domingo" by Sacred Destinations.
The Church of Santo Domingo itself rises upon on the foundations of Koricancha, the land being giving as a gift from Francisco Pizzaro's brother to the order of Dominican priests. Completed about 1633, the construction material of the church was derived from Koricancha itself, and did achieve the encapsulation of some of Koricancha's walls, as well as some its chambers. At least two major earthquakes did significant damage to the church, but due to the 1950 earthquake the collapse of the Spanish architecture revealed the still-standing Inca walls and several previously hidden chambers. Thanks to this natural disaster, much more of Koricancha's original structure has been exposed.
We were able to see some of this newly exposed architecture while attending Easter Mass in Santo Domingo Church. The interior is quite beautiful with paintings, sculpture and ornate woodwork set against the dark stone floors and walls. I found it very rude and distracting for visitors to be walking around and taking photographs during the church service and most important moments of mass.
Each time we returned to our hotel from the Plaza de Armas (Huacaypata) via Loreto, the route took us past the past Koricancha's impressive, curved stone wall built by the Incas which is seen beneath the west end of Santo Domingo and which you might have believed was a part of the church itself. From this vantage point one could also take a peek at the sloping terraces but not too much else. Koricancha's structure is large and there is large courtyard area. The Koricancha Museum is separate from the Koricancha Inca site. Admittance to Koricancha site requires a "Boleto Touristico."
There is a separate museum from Koricancha itself which can be entered from the Ave. del Sol.
Museum Hours:Monday - Saturday from 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m;
Sundays from 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
General ticket 10 soles; students 5 soles.
Entrance is free for children under the age of 10 years.
Entrance is free for all residents of Cusco
Church of Santo Domingo hours:
Monday - Saturday from 7:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.;
Sundays from 7:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. & 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Monday to Saturday 7:00 a.m.& 6:30 p.m.;
Sundays 7:00 a.m., 6:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Children’s mass is held on Sundays at 9:00 a.m.
The Sun Temple (Coricancha) forms the foundations of the San Domingo Convent and Church. In the grand tradition of looting and destruction carried out by Spanish conquerors throughout Peru, much of the wealth of Spain was stolen from the treasuries of the Incas.
In this case, gold from the sun temple, whose tightly interlocking stones proved more resilient to earthquakes than the Christian structure built above it, stuffed the treasuries of Spain and helped fund its expansion, just as colonisers and conquerors have done since time immemorial.
In the museum, the cloister of the convent overlooks the austere rooms of the temple, with their mysterious niches and trapezoid doorways. Upstairs, the Pinoteca presents paintings, mostly of European religious themes, by local artists of Cusco.
The church and monastery of Santo Domingo was built over the foundations of Qorikancha, one of the Inca's most important and religious sites. It was several temples worshipping different natural gods, and the Temple of the Sun was the most impressive with - like an El Dorado legend - gold sheets covering the walls, gold altars, golden statues, and the holiest religious symbol of the Empire: "The golden disc of the sun". The golden disc was never found by the conquistadors (and is still missing), but they emptied the temple of its other gold, and the remains of Qorikancha were left to the Dominican.
They constructed the church and monastery in the 17th century, but the 1950 earthquake uncovered many of the old Inca walls, and later the Temple of the Moon, the Temple of the Lighting, and a couple of other chambers have been revealed. The Temple of the Sun has entirely disappeared, but this is still a must see in Cusco!
The Qoriqancha (Quechua for Golden Courtyard) was once known as Inti Kancha or Temple of the Sun. It was dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God and was the foremost temple in the Inca Empire. It was literally covered in gold - the walls and floors were once covered in sheets of solid gold. Not only a religious site it was used as an observatory where priests views celestial events.
The temple met the fate of so many others - its stones were use by the Spanish in the construction of the Church of Santo Domingo. Today you can still see the Inca stonework forming a base for the colonial church.
Santo Domingo is open Mon-Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 2-4pm. Entrance S/.1, S/.0.50 students
There is a small museum under the park by Qoriqancha. Its entance is via Av. El Sol and is open Mon-Sun 9am-5pm, Entrance is included on the Tourist Ticket. The artefacts are interesting but not inspiring. There is however a great scale model of the original Qoriqancha. Photography, with or without flash, is not permitted.
Qorikancha was the Inca Sun Temple, and the Spanish built Santo Domingo on top of it around 1534. The walls collapsed during the earthquake of 1650, and it was rebuilt around 1681. A 20th Century earthquake that destroyed part of the church exposed some of the original Inca temple, and the restoration work left it exposed so it could be seen.
Other parts of the Sun Temple, such as the queens’ mummy room, have also been preserved. The royal mummies were kept there, carefully tended, and taken out on holidays, etc.
Another room had a representation of the Inca constellations—the Milky Way was the Llama Way. The temple had been richly decorated before the Spanish took the gold out of it.
Once more the history goes the same way, even though sometimes it ended up nicely, the Spanish felt the need to transform every building they saw and turn it into something catholic! Qoriqancha was originally an Inca temple decicated to the Inti, the god of the sun, and in fact it was one of the most important temples of the Inca empire, and it's said that all its walls were covered in gold. However once the Spanish arrived, they decided to build the convent of Santo Domingo there. The result is an interesting mix of Inca and Reinassance style walls and ornaments. You can visit the convent with the "boleto turístico", and walk around the inside, gardens, take a look at the many paintings of the "escuela Cusqueña", as well as enter the little museum they have right next to the Qoriqancha (Museo del Sitio de Qoriqancha).
Qoricancha best represents the both the marriage and conflict between the Spanish and the Quechua world. This Quechua temple, originally the Temple of the Sun, is attached to a fine but out of place 17th century church built by the Spanish.
At the time of the Spanish arrival and conquest of Peru, Qoricancha was considered to be the most magnificent of the the temples of the Inca. The massive walls were covered with gold panelling and leaf. Hence the name of the temple Qoricancha which means in Quechua, "courtyard of gold". There were also many golden statues and altars and Qoricancha was considered a treasure trove of wealth.
Naturally the Spanish set their greedy eyes on it. They ransacked and plundered Qoricancha, melting down the gold and carrying it off. Eventually they built the oversized church attached to it. Qoricancha itself was left alone and only the stonework remained. This alone is worth a visit. The Incas were the masters of stonework. Testimony to ths fact is that when Cusco was struck by a massive earthquake, the church was severly damaged while Qoricancha was survived largely intact.
Qoricancha can be visited by way of the tourist ticket that offers you access to so many of Cusco's monuments. Inside there are also several locals dressed in Inca costume who preach about the magnificence of their empire and culture.
Qoricancha a.k.a Convento de Santo Domingo used to be the most important religious building in Cuzco for the Incas. The legend says that its walls were recovered with gold.
Then went the spanish conqueors came they took the gold and built a church over it. Oh my god! What a good idea!! F#ck!!
Price 2007: 10 soles (3€). 50% discount with International Student Identity Card.
Santo Domingo was built on the walls of Qoricancha, Temple of the Sun. Excavation has unearthed more of the 5 chambers of the Temple of the Sun which revealed the exquisite and extremely impressive Inca stonework.
The cloister had also revealed some original chambers of the temple and other fine stonework is found in the famous curved wall beneath the west end of Santo Domingo. Below this wall was a garden of gold and silver replicas of animals and plants such as maize. Inca baths are also found behind.
Very interesting place to wander about.
When the Spaniards came to conquer the Incas they took one of their most important temples, the Qoricancha, and attempted to destroy it. They destroyed most of it but left some part of the foundation. On top of this foundation the Spaniards built their church, The Iglesia Santa Domingo. This was to prove a sort of dominance over the Inca and to convert them to Christianity.
The Qoricancha was lined with gold panals on the walls and there were gold figures and altars along with a golden sun disc.
The Qoricancha was also the main astronomical observatory for the Incas.
It is said that the Qorichancha was the location of one of the most important temples for the Inca. Qoricancha also means golden temple. This temple was dedicated to the sun god, there is also a room that was dedicated to the moon and another to rainbows.
The Incas knowledge of geometry and astrology was very impressive.
When we took our organized city tour of Cusco we were brought here. It was my first little taste of Incan ruins. Listening to our guide tell us about the knowledge that these people had was just unbelieveable.
El Coricancha (cori= oro ; kancha = recinto) era una construcción dedicada al dios sol ( Inti )que estaba en el corazón de Cuzco y era el lugar más importante y sagrado de los Incas . Sobre este templo se construyó en 1534 la iglesia y el convento de Santo Domingo
Hoy en día se puede visitar el museo , la iglesia y ver como han convivido las dos culturas
5crThe Coricancha (cori = gold ; kancha = hall ) was a building dedicated to god the sun ( Inti ) that it was in the hart of Cuzco and it was the most sacred and more important place of the Incas
Over this temple it was built on 1534 the church and the convent of Santo Domingo
Now a days you may visit the museum , the church and see how both cultures have being living
Originally the pagan temple of the sun covered in gold, the Spanish converted this beautiful building and surrounding grounds into a convent (monestary). There are still monks living there today although the tourists are not allowed into their quarters.
See examples of Incan architecture, remains from the pagan temple and amazing works of art. Definitely worth a visit.
Coricancha or in Quechua, Q'orikancha means "covered with gold". The Inca walls that are bare in this sites were covered with gold. This site is being visited if you take a city tour, and you will have to pay your own entrance fee. (6 USD). You will be directed by your guide to the Inca walls and see how the stones were cut, and assembled together to form exact joints between all of them. You will also see the foundations that used to be walls and the inner courtyard fountain that used to be covered with gold.
Coricancha also hosts the Santo Domingo church which is still used for religious purposes by the locals.
There is a nice view over the gardens and great photo opportunity from there.
This small underground museum has just about the same artifacts than the Inca museum. The most interesting parts are the skulls that have holes in them, the ones that are elongated and also the mummified bodies that are well preserved. For the rest you will see the tools made out of the stones to cut, sculpt, kill, and else, some pottery, some textiles.
Unfortunately not all is explained in english, so unless you have a guide with you, or you speak spanish, you're on your own.
Admission is covered by the boleto touristico.