The Koricancha and Convent of Santo Domingo has a rich history and story attached to it. Our guide told us part of the history of the site. The Koricancha was a temple built by the Incas to worship Inti their Sun god. It has been said the walls were covered in gold and shows of wealth. There was a huge figure of a Sun god made in all gold. The god was said to have a rounded face with thunder and flames of fire. In addition, the temple housed special Incan mummies that were decorated in gold and gems and were taken out on special occasions for processions. The people considered these mummies to be like saints living with god. The people were controlled by the priest religion and these mummies. They were afraid that if they did something against the church, something would happen to their mummies.
Life for the Incas changed when Pizarro entered Cusco with Spanish troops. Soon after the city was plundered of all it gold and wealth. The coming of the Spanish brought a new god and the religion of Christianity to this region as well. Many of the images of Incan gods were destroyed because of this.
In 1534, the site of Koricancha was given to the Dominican order. They kept the foundation of Koricancha and used some of the rocks from Koricancha to made the convent of Santo Domingo. Inside the grounds you can still see the strong construction of the old Inca walls and portals. Walking through the convent you can see the remains of an altar from the Inca temple.
The convent of Santo Domingo was completed in 1633. Inside the convent you will see several chapels with some sculptures and paintings. There are sculptures of Saint Dominic and painting of the Virgin of the Rosaries. The outside courtyard is very beautiful and impressive. In the middle of it is a stone rectangular tank coming from an Incan temple. The walls of the convent surrounding the main yard have paintings about the life of Saint Dominic. The people in the paintings have Spanish styled clothing.
One of the fabulous historical sites to visit in Cuzco with both Incan and colonial architecture. If you take a city tour this will most definately be included on your tour or you can visit on your own for 6 soles. Going with a tour guide in your language will give you much more insight to the site than wandering around aimlessly, but there are also booklets that give good information if you don't like the guided type of sightseeing. Be prepared for the throngs of people selling things out front, as with most tourist sites around Cuzco
This place is extraordinary. Originally was the Temple of The Sun, where the Inca celebrated the most important ceremony for this culture during the soltice of summer.
Today you'll appreciate a strange mix of structures, on one hand the spaniard church and in the other hand the original Koricancha temple.
The most spreaded versions tell us that this is the best example of the fusion of the kechua civilization with the spaniard culture.
The reality is very different.
This is the perfect example of the huge efforts made by the Spanish Empire to dissapear each trace of the kechua civilization. They built the Santo Domingo Church over the oldest walls of the Koricancha temple, destroying an important part of the temple and hidding the rest under the large church building.
But the kechua structures demonstrated that are designed to survive, and the church is just an ugly fragile building over the original beauty.
This region of the world is shaked constantly by strong earthquakes (the kechuas knew it very well) and after each one the church was destroyed at least partially, and the oldest inca temple outcrope victorious, exposing his admirable architecture without any damage.
After a lot of events like this with his expensives repairing jobs, the spaniards learned to respect the original stones astonished by his strenght. And now we knows they are loosing the battle.
The Qorikancha was the great Inca temple and the center of Inca Religious life. To display their dominance the Spanish destroid it and built a convent on it's foundations and with it's stones.
Of course their workmanship was not as good as the incas and when a earthquake topled the orriginal convent the Foundations held strong. The symbolism sems to backfire to me.
When you visit the ticket will get you into the convent area where the Inca foundations are most evident. This is the most interesting part of the church, even worth getting a guide for but do not miss the interior of the church itself. Probably not as impressive as the temple it replaces but still a good example of Colonial churchs.
Here was located the old Sun Temple in Inca times, the richest temple of all the Tihauntinsuyo. In fact you can still see the inca remains in the front esplanade, the church and monastery was built on top of the Inca ruins.
Entrance 1,60 USD. Boleto Turistico is not valid here.
This temple was literally "covered with gold" in ancient times, including statues of plants and animals in that material. All that is now gone (to Europe) but you can admire the original walls of the Temple.
Now it houses the convent of Santo Domingo.
The Santo Domingo Convent is one of the "Don't Miss" sights of Cusco-- for three reasons. Most obviously, it is an important colonial convent, containing a beautiful arcaded cloister and fine colonial bell tower. The second reason is to see the excellent paintings displayed in the many side rooms off the cloister. Santo Domingo contains one of the best collections of Cusco School painitings, and it is really fun to search them for unique Cusco elements, such as dinners of cuy or Conquistadors at the crucifixion. Finally, this sight is also noteworthy as it was the Inca Temple of the Sun. Inside the grounds you can see the exacting construction of the old Inca walls and portals. As is typical, the Spaniards destroyed it and built on top of it, sending the clear message that they were in charge. They also looted the Temple of gold -- supposedly there was so much gold in here that it took three months to melt it all down. So, no matter what your interest, the Temple of the Sun/Santo Domingo is worth a visit -- even though it is not on the city tourist ticket!
This little, underground museum just around the corner from Koricancha is worth a visit - and is included in the Boleto Turistico. There are some interesting exhibits about the artifacts uncovered at the site, including these gold Inca (maybe pre-Inca?) llamas. At the very least, they gave an idea for a souvenir, and now I have my own gold-colored llama here at home!
The ruins of Koricancha, the Incan Temple of the Sun in Cusco, serve as the foundation for the Spanish colonial Santo Domingo convent.
The museum of Koricancha on Avenida Sol is included in the Boleto Turistico, but not the actual temple/convent, which cost an additional 6 soles per person. Inside, you can compare the colonial architecture to the perfect formations of the Inca stonemasons. The quality was the best of all the ruins we'd visited, I think, with not enough space to slip even a piece of paper between the perfectly cut stones.
The rounded rock formation served as the site for the actual worship of the sun - although we couldn't find a way to access it from inside.
This was the site of a pre-incan temple. Incas built a temple dedicated to thier sun god, Inti, on these pre-incan foundations. After the arrival and conquest of Cusco by the Spanish, this site was converted into the Church of Santo Domingo. Today it serves as a convent.
Today much of the Sun Temple structure is still intact. This is an excellent archaelogicial site to witness 3 different periods of building - pre-Incan, Incan and Spanish.
Most daytrip tours of the Sacred Valley stop at Koricancha for a quick look around the temple/convent complex before heading out to the Urubamba Valley. The site is located within the Cusco city limits.
The Temple of the Sun was one of the most important temples in the Inca empire. As its names implies,it was dedicated to the worship of the sun. The courtyard was filled with life-sized gold figures,altars, corn and a golden sun disc at one time. When the Spaniards arrived, they removed the gold figures and melted them down. The original stonewalls of the temples were kept and used as the foundations for the Convent of Santo Domingo.
Admission is 4 soles. A little over a 1 US dollar.
Spaniard built Santo Domingo de Guzmán's Church over Incan Koricancha or Qoricancha (Sun's Temple). The earthquake of 1950 part destroyed the christian church, but Incan temple was untouched (the Incas built anti-seismic constructions). The Incan temples were built at 14th century; there were dedicated not only to the Sun, also to the Moon and Constellations. These were foraged by conquerors, because they were decorated with silver and gold statues.
Inside the christian church there is a very important art museum with several paintings of Cusco School. All of them are religious, and shows the syncretism between Spaniard and Incan cultures.
Los españoles construyeron la iglesia de Santo Domingo de Guzmán sobre el templo incaico de Koricancha o Qoricancha (Templo del Sol). El terremoto de 1950 destruyó parcialmente la iglesia cristiana, pero el templo incaico permaneció intacto (los incas realizaban construcciones antisísmicas). Los templos incaicos de la zona fueron construidos en el siglo XIV, y estaban dedicados al Sol, la Luna y las Constelaciones. Estos fueron saqueados por los conquistadores, dado que estaban decorados con estatuas de oro y de plata. Dentro del templo cristiano hay un importante museo con pinturas de la Escuela Cusqueña, todas ellas sobre temas religiosos, y muestran el sincretismo entre ambas culturas.
The Convent is built over a stone base from The Qoricancha Temple of the Sun.
This curved wall of Inca stones (rebuilt after the earthquake in 1950) is the finest stone work there is to be seen in Cusco. On the top inside, a niche that had contained a shrine was found.
Excavations have revealed five chambers of the Sun Temple.
This point was the central point of the Inca Empire, the centre of Tawantinsuyu.
The earthquake of 1950 brought to light extensive incaic infraestructures of the old temple, which since then have been cleared and restored.
Now the Museum of Qoricancha is build under this grass field.
Koricancha (Inca Temple of the Sun):
Santo Domingo was built in the 17th century on the walls of the Koricancha Temple of the Sun. The uninspiring Baroque decoration of Santo Domingo makes a poor contrast to the superbly crafted Inca masonry - infact much of the cloister has been gutted to reveal four of the original chambers of the great Inca Temple. The finest Inca stonework in existence today is the curved wall beneath the west end of the Church. In Inca times the walls of the Koricancha were lined with 700 solid-gold sheets weighing two kilos a piece. There were life-size gold and silver replicas of corn, golden llamas, figurines and jars. All that remains is the stonework; the conquistadors took the rest - unfortunately all the exquisite treasures ended up in the crucible; nothing survived. However the fist conquistadors to arrive did not remove the holiest religious symbol of the empire, the golden sun disc, though they reported its existence. This solid gold disc, far larger than a man, mysteriously vanished before the main party of Spaniards arrived. It has never been found to the present day. The disc was positioned to catch the morning sun and throw its rays into the gold-lined temple, filling it with radiant light and bathing the mummies of the dead Inca rulers in sunshine which were seated in niches along the walls.
The entire temple complex was also an intricate celestial observatory. Every summer solstice, the sun's rays shine directly into a niche - the tabernacle - in which only the Inca was permitted to sit. Along with the main temple dedicated to the Sun, there were others for the adoration of lesser deities - the Moon, Venus, Thunder and Lightning, and the Rainbow.
This was the main temple of the Quechuas in the Valley of Cusco, dedicated to the Agriculture Gods. When the Spaniards came, they proceeded to destroy Inca temples and build churches in their place. However, when the earthquake of 1650 came, it destroyed all the churches and none of the remaining Inca temples. They thus learned that the Incas had a special way of putting the stones together, sort of like a puzzle, that "survived" earthquakes. After that, they kept the foundations of the Inca temples and built churches on top, just like they did with Qoricancha.