Andean Gallery




Coricancha (hispanicized spelling) was a sun temple at the center of the Inca Empire within Cuzco, contemporary Peru. It was the most prominent temple to the Inca. It is obvious that because the temple lay in the center of Cuzco, which was in the middle of the empire, that Coricancha was the the most central and sacred spot of the universe.



Map of Peru (detail) from “Coricancha”, 1943 by MacDonald Gill


The Sun Temple of Cuzco has a rich history, especially with the Spanish. The temple was fought over amongst Sapa Incas trying to gain power of the city of Cuzco. Although the temple was not always given the respect it deserved, it was largely kept intact and untouched by raiding. The Spanish did not have any intentions of abiding by this if it impeded their hunt for treasure. After the conquest, the temple was overtaken by the Dominican order and is now a church.


Coricancha was a temple for the sun god Inti. Daily rituals would be carried out in the temple’s courtyard. The major rituals and festivities took place here as well. Amongst the amazing craftsmanship many idols were housed. The buildings were built of perfectly cut stones and covered in gold. This gold covering is why the temple is named Coricancha. It translates to “golden enclosure” or sometimes “golden garden”.