Saturday, 10 November 2012

Cusco - the Koricancha Temple

This doesn't look like a temple, does it?  It's really a Catholic Church built atop an Inca temple - the Koricancha Temple, originally called the Inti Cancha, Temple of the Sun in Cusco.  Cusco used to be the ancient capital of the Inca Empire and this temple was the centre where the sun was worshipped.  The Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu is said to be based on this one in the capital.

According to the Spanish, the walls and floors were covered with gold and the gold was used to pay the ransom when the Spanish captured an Incan leader.  The Spanish demolished the temple and built the Church of Santo Domingo on top of the Incan foundation.  The colonial structure was damaged by earthquakes but the Incan foundation remained in tact because of the quality of the stone work.  You can see examples of the first class mortarless masonry in the photos below.

On the outside of the complex, you can see the curved wall with its astounding fit beneath the chapel.  It remains undamaged through repeated earthquakes.

The cloisters of the colonial church

The ceremonial chambers remained intact from Inca times

Three openings in the walls of the adjoining chambers align perfectly

Typical Inca walls slanting inwards
the first class stone masonry - here you can see how one huge piece of stone went around a corner
the contrast between the smooth and the rough

The signature trapezoidal portal of the ceremonial chamber

Stunning portal with double jambs

Colonial portal built over Inca wall
Colonial cloisters over Inca wall

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