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Portada / About Peru / Cusco / Archaeological Centers Cusco / Qoricancha - Temple Of The Sun

Qoricancha - Temple Of The Sun

The Qoricancha, or Temple of the Sun, was the most important religious building during the Inca Empire, and even years later, this place continues to amaze us with its beauty. Learn more about this wonderful place.
Qoricancha Cusco
Over the years, the Temple of the Sun still maintains its incredible architecture.

According to Inca conception, the Qoricancha was the religious, geographical, and political center of Cusco. The temple of Qoricancha was the place where the entire population of the Tahuantinsuyo paid homage to the supreme Inca god, the "Inti" (sun). Due to its importance, the Qoricancha was constructed with special detail that gives it a unique aesthetic.

History of Qoricancha

The Temple of the Sun - Qoricancha was originally named "Inticancha or Intiwasi," which would mean House of the Sun. It was a religious enclosure built in 1200 AD under the order of Inca Wiracocha.

With the arrival of Inca Pachacútec to power, the entire city of Cusco underwent a beautification process. It was during this time that the Inticancha was renamed Qoricancha, around which huge walls were built and adorned with sheets of gold, silver, and precious stones.

With the arrival of the Spanish invasion, the Temple of the Sun was looted and destroyed. According to some historians, the gold belonging to this enclosure was transferred to Cajamarca to pay the ransom for Inca Atahualpa.

The temple became the property of Francisco Pizarro, who gifted it to the Dominican order. They demolished what remained of the Temple of Qoricancha to build the Temple of Santo Domingo. The construction suffered three earthquakes (1650, 1749, and 1950), completely damaging the Church of Santo Domingo, only the Inca walls remain intact.

In 1956, the reconstruction of the Temple of the Sun - Qoricancha began, prioritizing the exposure of the Inca walls.

Who were the first to build the "Qoricancha"?

According to many chroniclers, the first to build a temple in honor of the sun were the original inhabitants of Cusco, the "Ayamarcas," initially calling it "Inticancha." This ethnic group was a population that inhabited Cusco around the 13th century, before the beginning of the expansion of the Inca Empire. Despite having a great rivalry with the Incas, they were defeated and annexed to the Tahuantinsuyo during the rule of Inca Wiracocha.

What does Qoricancha mean?

Koricancha, Qoricancha, or Coricancha would be understood in the Spanish language as “Temple of Gold” coming from the Quechua words Quri “Gold” and Kancha “Temple”.

We can also say that "Qori" means worked gold, its Spanish form would be Cori. "Kancha" means a site enclosed, limited by walls, its Spanish form would be Cancha.

So we can say that the name means "Enclosed site containing gold".

Architecture of Qoricancha - Temple of the Sun

The Temple of Qoricancha was an enclosure dedicated to the worship of the Incas' principal deity, the Sun. This place, in addition to the Temple of the Sun, housed four other small temple complexes dedicated to gods such as the Goddess Killa; the moon, the God Illapa; the thunder, the God K'uychi; the rainbow, and the Goddess Chack'a, the star.

All these complexes had a continuous band of pure gold three meters above the ground that connected each sector, similarly, the wire that held the thatched roof of the enclosures, was made of gold. The walls were built with natural stones perfectly interlocked, as in other Inca constructions.

Location of Qoricancha: How to Get There?

Qoricancha is located in the city center, at the intersection of Av. El Sol and Calle Santo Domingo, just two blocks from the Plaza de Armas of Cusco.

Attractions of Coricancha

The description made by Garcilaso harmonizes with what remains standing today. Although it is only a pale reflection of what Qoricancha was like in the times of the Incas.

The Temple of the Sun

It was the main temple of the entire Qoricancha, occupying more than half the width of the current Church of Santo Domingo. Garcilaso tells that inside this temple were the embalmed bodies of the Sun's children placed by antiquity in chairs and on gold tables, the walls were covered with gold plates, featuring a disk representing the Sun figure made of a thicker gold plate than the other plates covering the temple. The western end corresponds to the current drum overlooking Av. Sol; its eastern end reached the current atrium of the church.

The Temple of the Moon

This temple was closer to the Temple of the Sun, as the Moon was considered the wife of the Sun. This building was lined with silver planks, featuring the representation of the Moon made in silver. Inside were kept the mummies of the Coyas arranged in order of antiquity. Approximately half of the Temple was demolished by the Spaniards to build the nave of the Church of Santo Domingo. It occupies part of the western side of the interior courtyard of Qoricancha.

The Temple of Venus and the Stars

Near the Temple of the Moon, but separated by a beautiful alley, dedicated to Venus and the seven little goats and to all the other stars. The Incas called Venus “Chasca,” which means star. This temple was the place where the Inca stood, according to historians, to be divinized or to witness feasts or sacrifices performed in the rectangular courtyard. It occupies part of the western side of the interior courtyard of Qoricancha.

The Temple of Illapa or Chuki Illapa

Illapa or ChukiIllapa mean lightning, thunder, and thunderbolt simultaneously. The mentioned temple is in front of the temple of Venus, has three doors with simple jambs, equidistant and slightly trapezoidal, and also has a window on each side wall.

The Temple of K'uychi or the Rainbow

This temple was dedicated to the worship of the Rainbow, which according to ancient belief, came from the Sun. It has the same architectural features as the Temple of Illapa. A part of this temple was demolished by the Spaniards to construct the buildings of the Convent of the Dominicans. It is located to the North of the Temple of Illapa and opposite the Temple of the Moon, on the eastern side of the interior courtyard of Qoricancha.


Almost all peoples of the world, in all eras, built wide plazas in front of their temples. Inti Pampa (which translates as Plain of the Sun) is the place where the nobles, their courts, service personnel, dancers, etc., would stay when during the course of feasts the Inca and the nobility moved to Qoricancha. This site currently corresponds to the Plaza de Santo Domingo, apparently, its limits and extent have hardly changed. It is located to the North of what was Qoricancha.

The Solar Garden

It became the grand repository of offerings that all the subjugated and allied nations brought for the God Sun, consisting of representations of the flora and fauna of the Tahuantinsuyo. According to some historians, these offerings made of gold and silver were life-size in quantity and filled the area remarkably.

The Spaniards called it the Solar Garden because of the number of terraces. In the colonial era, it became the orchard of the Dominican Friars. It is located on the western part of Qoricancha and can be seen from Av. Sol in its entirety.

The Fountains

There were five water fountains, the origins of the water for the fountains was a closely guarded secret. The fountains had a religious significance and were decorated with precious metals. They were located throughout the extension of Qoricancha, currently, we can see a fountain with octagonal corners in the courtyard of Qoricancha.

Visiting Hours and Admission Fees

The Temple of the Sun is open from Monday to Saturday from 09:00 a.m. to 17:00 p.m., and Sundays from 14:00 p.m. to 17:00 p.m.

The GENERAL ADMISSION fee is S/.15.00 for both foreign and national tourists. Admission is not included in the Tourist Ticket.

*Please note that with your ticket, you can visit the temple of Qoricancha without any time limit.

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