According to Inca conception, the Qorikancha was the religious, geographical and political center of Cusco. It was the place where homage was paid to the highest of Inca deities, the “Inti” (Sun). Etymologically, the word “Qorikancha” is divided as follows: “Qori” means “worked gold”- its Spanish form is “cori”. “Kancha” means place enclosed or limited by walls- its Spanish form is “cancha”, which suggests that the name approximately corresponds to “fenced place that contains gold”. It is said that when the Spanish reached the Temple of Qorikancha, they had never seen so much gold in one place; the walls of the temple were covered with a layer of gold that illuminated the entire enclosure and in its extensive gardens there were representations of animals and cornfields made of pure gold. Most of the pieces were sent to Spain, as a “thank you” to the king for allowing the expeditions of conquest.
The Temple of Qorikancha was probably the most important and sacred temple of the Incas, not only for worshipping the Sun deity “Inti”, but for being the only temple that devoted itself entirely to worship ceremonies; there was never evidence of households in this area. Most chronicles agree on the description of the majesty of the Qorikancha temple, its walls made of calcite and andesite stone have a perfect finish and prevail over time, despite having endured 3 earthquakes (1650, 1749 y 1950)
According to chroniclers as Luis E. Valcarcel, the “Inca Huayna Capac”, son of Tupac Inca Yupanqui and grandson of Pachacutec, was in charge of giving special importance to the temple and tried to centralize the empire of the Incas in this place, so he ordered that all riches of the empire be sent to Qorikancha, unprecedented fact that favored some revolutionary movements in the Empire. After the death of Huayna Capac, it was not clear which one of his sons (Huascar or Atahualpa) should gain power, which caused the decline of the empire and the easy conquest by the Spanish.
The description made by “Inca Garcilaso de la Vega” is in harmony with what is still standing today. Although, in reality, today Qorikancha is only a pale reflection of what it actually was in Inca times.
It was the main Temple of entire Qorikancha, occupying more than half the width of the current Church of Santo Domingo. Garcilaso says that in this temple were the embalmed bodies of the children of the Sun positioned by seniority on chairs and tables of gold, the walls were covered with gold plates; there was a disc representing the figure of the sun in a golden plate thicker than the other plates that covered the temple. The western end corresponds to the current drum overlooking Avenida de Sol; its eastern end reached the current atrium of the church.
This temple was closer to the Temple of the Sun, as it was considered the wife of Sun, the Moon. This building was lined with silver boards, existing representation of the moon made in silver. Among the mummies were kept of the arrayed old Coyas. About half of the temple was demolished by the Spanish to build the nave of the church of Santo Domingo. It occupies part of the western side of the courtyard of the Qorichancha.
It is close to the Temple of the Moon, but separated by a beautiful alley, dedicated to Venus and the seven goats and all other stars. The Incas called Venus “chasca”, which means “star”. In this temple stood the Inca, according to references from historians, for they were to be divinized and festivals or sacrifices were made in the rectangular courtyard. It occupies part of the western side of the courtyard of the Qorichancha.
Illapa or Chuki Illapa meant at the same time, lightning and thunder. The temple in question is in front of the Temple of Venus; it has 3 simple doors of jamba (1 level), equidistant and slightly trapezoidal. It also has a window on each side wall.
In this temple the rainbow was worshiped, which according to ancient belief came from the sun; it has identical architectural characters as Illapa Temple. A part of this temple was demolished by the Spanish to build Dominican Convent buildings. It is north of the Temple of Illapa and opposite the Temple of the Moon, eastern side of the inner courtyard of the Qorichancha.
Almost all the world’s villages, in all time periods, built spacious squares in front of the temples. Intipanpa or Intipampa (the name translates as Plain of the Sun) is the place where the stagings and rituals were developed in the presence of the Inca and his entourage. This place currently corresponds to the Plaza de Santo Domingo, apparently its limits and extent have not changed much. It lies to the North from where Qorikancha was.
It became the great reservoir of offerings of all subject nations and Confederate nations brought to the Sun God; the offerings consisted of representations of Tahuantinsuyo flora and fauna. According to some historians, these offerings made in gold and silver were life size and they were so many that they filled the entire garden in a surprising way. In colonial time it became the Dominican friars’ garden. Located in the western part of Qorikancha, it can be seen from Avenida el Sol in its entirety.
There were five water fountains, the origins of water sources was a kept secret. The fountains had religious significance and were decorated with precious metals. They were located in the entire extension of Qorikancha; now we can see a fountain with octagonal corners in the courtyard of Qorikancha.
Admission time to Qorikancha is: Monday- Saturday 8:30a.m.-5:30p.m. Sunday: 2p.m.-5p.m.