The Qoricancha, located just a few blocks from the central Plaza de Armas, is one of Cusco’s most impressive sites to visit. While there are hundreds of remnants of the Inca civilization in the city, the church is one of the greatest examples of the combination of Inca and Spanish architecture. What used to be the richest temple in the Inca empire is now a popular tourist attraction, visited by people from all over the world. Built in the mid-15th century, this temple was named Qoricancha, a Quechua word for “Sun House” It received this title due to the gold sheets that used to line the outside of the temple, as well as the gold figures of corn, babies, and a large golden sun all rumored to have been part of the structure.
Unfortunately, when the Spanish conquistadors arrived, they demanded the gold artifacts in exchange for the Inca ruler Atahualpa who they had taken hostage. They looted the temple for gold and other treasures and then proceeded to destroy parts of the temple, which they then rebuilt into a church called Santo Domingo. They kept the Inca framework which still remain today, despite earthquakes that have damaged sections built by the conquistadors. The brick building rises out of the ground and contains an archaeological museum that lies underneath it. The open lawn and courtyard of the church is open for visitors to explore and offers stunning views of the church, as well as a beautiful place to enjoy lunch. This site as well as a number of other locations in and around Cusco can be seen on our half day Cusco City Tour, a great opportunity to see the rich history of Cusco!
By Ella Burnham