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QORIKANCHA, The Most Sacred Site of the Inca Empire


During the rule of the Incas, all roads led to Cusco. The city was not only the capital of the mighty empire, but it was also home to the most sacred site in the entire Inca empire, the religious complex known as Qorikancha (Coricancha). The crowning jewel of the complex was the Temple of the Sun, which was the axis mundi, the center of the world for the Incas both in geopolitical and religious terms. As with everything built by the Incas, location played an important role in the construction of the Qorikancha. It was erected at the convergence of the four main roads that connected the four Suyus, regions, which comprised the Inca Empire, also known as Tahuantinsuyu, or the Realm of the Suyus. These roads once connected the expansive empire from present-day Colombia in the North to Santiago, Chile, in the South.

Besides the physical roads that connected the empire, Qorikancha was also located at the center point wherefrom imaginary lines, called Ceques, extended outwardly and connected the Huacas, shrines, throughout the empire with the main temple at Qorikancha.

Before the Spanish conquest in 1532, the Qorikancha was not only the most sacred holy site in the Empire, but it was also the one that possessed the greatest amount of gold used in its décor. However, after the conquest it was looted and turned into a Catholic monastery and a church was built on top on of the foundations of the old temple. Today the monastery and church of Santo Domingo sit atop the old foundation of the Temple of the Sun which is an irresistible metaphor to what happened to most of the Inca Empire: Though the Spanish influence is everywhere, the resilience of its people and its enduring ingenuity and greatness still loom large as the foundation of all that your senses are able to apprehend as you visit the Qorikancha.

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