Coricancha, which was considered the Inca Temple of the Sun, was one of the most sacred and respected sites of the Inca Empire. People from all over the Empire gathered in this temple to worship and pay homage to their gods, but the interior of the enclosure was reserved for the most important personalities of the time. Due to its importance, the Coricancha was built with stones finely joined with impressive precision giving it a sober esthetic.
Inside, the walls of the different enclosures were covered with gold and silver leaves. In the time of the Incas, inside the facilities of the “golden enclosure” there were many deities and samples of flora and fauna such as vicuñas, birds, trees and plants like corn, made of gold and silver.
In 1530, along with the Spanish conquest, the Dominican order built the temple of Santo Domingo on the foundations of the Coricancha, thus showing the power of the Spanish over the Incas. Later, the temple was almost completely looted, stripped of the precious metals that decorated it.
What to visit in the Coricancha?
The Coricancha was shaped like a sun, and the paths that came out of it were the rays that illuminated in the direction of the sacred sites for the Incas. You can find the following temples when entering the Coricancha:
Temple of the Sun
The main temple of all the Coricancha, occupied more than half of the width of the present Church of Santo Domingo. Inside this temple there were the embalmed bodies of the Incas placed by the antiquity in chairs and on golden tables, the walls were covered with golden plates and, a disc of wide thickness that represented the image of the Sun.
Temple of the Moon
This building was lined with silver boards and had the representation of the Moon made in silver. Inside were kept the mummies of the wives of the Incas placed in order of antiquity. Approximately half of the Temple was demolished by the Spaniards to build the church of Santo Domingo.
Temple of Venus and the Stars
The Inca, according to historians’ references, was located in this part of the Coricancha to be deified or to witness the festivities or sacrifices made in the rectangular patio. It occupies part of the western side of the interior patio of the Coricancha.
Premises of lightning, thunder and lightning
It is in front of the temple of Venus, has three simple doors with jambs, equidistant and slightly trapezoidal, also has a window on each sidewall.
There were 5 water fountains whose origins are unknown, these had a religious meaning and were decorated with precious metals. They were located in the whole extension of the Coricancha.
The Solar Garden
It became the great storehouse of offerings that all submissive and confederate nations brought to the Sun God. These offerings consisted of representations of the flora and fauna of the Tahuantinsuyo, made of gold and silver. They were of natural size and were so many that they filled the terraces in a surprising way and in such quantity that the Spaniards called it the Solar Garden, that’s why during the colonial era it became the garden of the Dominican friars.
How to get Coricancha?
The temple of Coricancha is located in the center of the city of Cusco, between the intersection of El Sol Avenue and Santo Domingo Street, two blocks from the Plaza de Armas. You can enter from Monday to Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The entrance fee is 10 soles for adults, 5 soles for students and is free for children under 10 years old.
What to bring?
If you would like to visit this beautiful temple on your next vacation, we recommend that you bring the following items with you for a memorable visit:
Get ready to be surprised by unique architecture! Without a doubt, a visit to Coricancha is one of the must-see stops in Cusco.
I am founder and content creator of Lorenzo Expeditions, since 2006 I started with the Inca Jungle tour, guiding and serving thousands of tourists in a personal way to get to know Machu Picchu in a unique and authentic way.