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The Amazing New Adventures of Larry and Mark - Peru, Land of the Incas

Chapter 12

Back in Cusco: Qoricancha


We are back in Cusco after our late afternoon at Saqsaywaman.

We are in time for one more visit - the Museum of the Site of the Qoricancha.

Called "Temple of the Sun" by the Spaniards,  the actual translation is

"Golden Enclosure," a name that comes from the fact that the walls and floors of

the Inca temple were covered in sheets of pure gold.


The  Qoricancha (or Coricancha) was by all measures the most

sacred site in all of the Inca culture.  The Inca empire radiated out in four

quarters from this complex.   



These gardens were once filled with llamas, and maize (corn) stalks, made

totally out of gold.  When the Spaniards first invaded this region, the gold in  the

garden at the Coricancha was some of the first to be looted.  Spanish reports stated 

that was 'fabulous beyond belief'.   Later, much of the gold which was collected by the

Inca to ransom their king Atahualpa in 1533 came from this site.  Unfortunately,  Atahualpa

was never released,  but was killed by the Spanish captors.  More on history later........



This model is a representation of how the walls and fields looked

during the time of the Incas.



When the Spaniards came to Cusco,  they destroyed much of the old

Inca buildings, but, recognizing strong construction, built many of their

own structures on the base of Inca stone. 



Here we see the Church of Santo Domingo which was

built on the Coricancha's understructure.  The gold was removed, and

nearly all interior structure was covered with walls of more

European design.



The major earthquake in 1950, much of the colonial building collapsed,  exposing a lot

of the original Inca construction, and since then, great effort has been put into

restoring all internal Inca structures. Stone construction in the most holy sites, and

for the nobility, had the finest stone work.   Below shows the unbelievable attention to

detail that the builders put into this work, with a small chink in the stone precisely fitted

with a "stone inlay" - as spoken by me, a dentist. 




Inside the arched walls of the Spanish monastery can be found the walls of

the Coricancha.  Typically, walls are angled, and the entrances and the wall

niches are tapered.  It is thought that walls were built like this to better

withstand the frequent earthquake forces.  Many times, the Inca construction

survived quakes which badly destroyed the Spanish architecture built around it.



Many pieces of unused stones were found at this site.  Cusco was the center of the

culture we call the "Inca" but truly only the king was "inka."  The country was

Tawantinsuyo (more on this later.) 




It is believed that many times, gold rings were constructed which fitted into

the loops, holes and grooves cut into stone to stabilize construction.  Remember -

gold was appreciated by the Inca for its beauty and its workability, not its value.




 This is part of a wall mural (modern)  by Cusco artist Miguel Cartagena with its explanation.













This is a replica of what was a gold late Inca - early Spanish colonial wall mural.




More soon!


Larry Reich


You may reach me with comments:


Laurence Reich 


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