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    South by South America Tour – Peru Part 14

    Friday, October 25, 2019
    Cuzco, Peru

    A Spanish colonial facade that hangs over ruins of an Inca temple at Qorikancha in Cuzco, Peru.
    A Spanish colonial facade that hangs over ruins of an Inca temple at Qorikancha in Cuzco, Peru.

    Sunset shadows play on the ruins of an Inca temple at Qorikancha in Cuzco, Peru.
    Sunset shadows play on the ruins of an Inca temple at Qorikancha in Cuzco, Peru.

    For my last day in Cuzco, I moseyed a few blocks south to Qorikancha, a unique site of Inca ruins set within colonial Spanish structures that include a Catholic church and convent. “Qorikancha was the most important temple in the Inca empire. Originally named Intikancha or Intiwasi, it was dedicated to the ancient sun god Inti, and is located at the old Inca capital of Cuzco. Mostly destroyed after the 16th century war with the Spanish conquistadors, much of its stonework forms the foundation of the Santo Domingo church and convent.

    Ruins of an Inca temple at Qorikancha in Cuzco, Peru.
    Ruins of an Inca temple at Qorikancha in Cuzco, Peru.

    A Spanish colonial facade that hangs over ruins of an Inca temple at Qorikancha in Cuzco, Peru.
    A Spanish colonial facade that hangs over ruins of an Inca temple at Qorikancha in Cuzco, Peru.

    “To construct Qorikancha, the Inca utilized ashlar masonry, which is composed of similarly sized cuboid stones. The use of ashlar masonry made the temple much more difficult to construct, as the Inca did not use any stone with a slight imperfection or break. By choosing this masonry type, the Inca intentionally demonstrated the importance of the structure through the extent of the labor necessary to build it. Through the arduous labor needed to construct buildings with ashlar masonry, this form of construction came to signify the Inca’s imperial power to mobilize local labor forces. The replication throughout Andean South America of Inca architectural techniques such as those employed at Qorikancha further illustrates the Inca’s control over a vast geographic region.

    The Jardin Sagrado at Qorikancha in Cuzco, Peru.
    The Jardin Sagrado at Qorikancha in Cuzco, Peru.

    Looking south over the Jardin Sagrado in Cuzco, Peru.
    Looking south over the Jardin Sagrado in Cuzco, Peru.

    “The Inca ruler Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui rebuilt Cuzco and the House of the Sun, enriching it with more oracles and edifices, and adding plates of fine gold. He also provided vases of gold and silver for nuns to use in veneration services. Finally, he took the bodies of the seven deceased Inca kings and enriched them with masks, head-dresses, medals, bracelets, and sceptres of gold, placing them on a golden bench. The walls of the temple were once covered in sheets of gold, and its adjacent courtyard was filled with golden statues. Spanish reports tell of its opulence that was “fabulous beyond belief.” When the Spanish required the Inca to raise a ransom in gold for the life of their leader, Atahualpa, most of the gold was collected from Qorikancha.

    Vegetarian lasagna with edible flowers in Cuzco, Peru.
    Vegetarian lasagna with edible flowers in Cuzco, Peru.

    “After the war, the Spanish colonists built the Church of Santo Domingo on the site, demolishing the Inca temple and using its foundations for the cathedral. Construction took most of a century. This is one of numerous sites where the Spanish incorporated Inca stonework into the structure of a colonial building. Major earthquakes severely damaged the church, but the Inca stone walls, built out of huge, tightly interlocking blocks of stone, still stand due to their sophisticated stone masonry. Nearby is an underground archaeological museum that contains mummies, textiles, and sacred idols from the site.”—Wikipedia

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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