The Coricancha / Koricancha temple or the golden temple nestles in the centre of the city of Cusco, Peru. It is the most important temple of the Incan Empire. It was built in 1200 AD. The initial name of the temple is Intikancha or Intiwasi. It was dedicated to Sun God of Inca, Inti.
Incas were talented astronomers. They were greatly influenced by the connection of earth and stellar bodies. They choose the localities of their sacred places by observing the synchronicity with the celestial bodies.
As Machu Picchu, The Coricancha Temple of the Sun was built in perfect alignment with stellar and planetary movements. As a divine place in South America, to honour the Inca Sun God Inti. During Inti Raymi – the festival of the Sun, at every solstice a direct beam of sunlight enters through its windows.
The first Inca, Manco Capac and his wife Mama Ocllo traveled from Lake Titicaca. Then they reached the center that is Q’osco (Cusco). Here they found a decent location for building the most valuable temple of their Kingdom.
The initiation of the construction of the temple started around 1200 AD. It was known as Inticancha. Years later, the temple was reconstructed and covered in gold. Then its name was changed to Coricancha, where Cori means golden.
The walls of the temple were plated with 700 gold plates. Each depicts one of the divine Inca Gods. Inti (Sun), Killa (Moon), Chaska (Stars), and Illapa (thunder / lighting / rainbow).
The garden area of the shrine was dedicated to Wiracocha (the creator of the universe). It was decorated with a large number of life – size statues of alpacas, corn and people. They were made of gold and silver.
The Incas built Coricancha temple of the Sun by using their widespread traditional architectural style. The vertical inclination of the walls, trapezoidal shapes of the structures, irregular shapes and round edges were some of the notable styles of the Incas architecture.
Diorite rocks, Andesite And Calcareous rocks were the stones used to build Coricancha temple. The golden temple is symbolic of the Inca’s region’s precise stone masonry technique inferred as ashlar. The temple was luminously designed to withstand centuries of seismic activity as like other Inca empire architecture.
On conquering Cusco, Spanish conquistadors under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro demolished the temple. They however, maintained the basement and built the Convent of Santo Domingo. The construction of the Church of Santo Domingo marked the end of the Inca period.
You can visit this historic temple of Sun to observe the diversity of tradition and architecture of the Inca Empire. It is a popular stop on a a half day Cusco City Tour.