Qoriqancha - Santo Domingo Convent, Cusco
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.
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 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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 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 the foundations of Koricancha, the land being given 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 the Mass.
Each time we returned to our hotel from the Plaza de Armas (Huacaypata) via Loreto, the route took us 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 a large courtyard area. The Koricancha Museum is separate from the Koricancha Inca site which can be entered from the Ave. del Sol. Admittance to Koricancha site requires a "Boleto Touristico."
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 for adults; 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.
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).
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!
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 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.
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.