Coricancha, The Golden Temple

Coricancha, The Golden Temple
October 15, 2012 Lainie Liberti
Miro walks along the walls of Coricancha

Guides in Cusco will tell you the history of Coricancha begins with the Incas

But does it?

The walls and floors of this magnificent structure were once covered in sheets of solid gold, and the adjacent courtyard was once adorned with golden statues. But this was before the Spanish arrived in Peru the 14th century. And after, this grand structure became a church.

The Incas created the golden temple, but were they the builders of the structure?

Some say ‘yes’.
Others say ‘no’.

The complete story of the historic site of Coricancha, remains untold.

Many believe the Incas were responsible for the construction of Coricancha. Other believe the Incas built upon an even older structure that was already there, built and abandoned when the Incas occupied Cusco and the Sacred Valley. But what is known for sure is that the Spanish built the Church of Santo Domingo burying possibly hundreds, maybe even thousands of years of history.

Coricancha today

Coricancha / Church of Santo Domingo today

I am interested in exploring the history behind the cultures who built many of the sites in and around the Sacred Valley of Peru.   I believe many of the structures including Coricancha were constructed by the Incas on top of earlier ruins just as the Spanish constructed a church in it’s place. Many sites that include many different styles of construction from Sacsayhuamán, Machu Picchu to Ollytaytambo to name a few. There are some researchers like David Hatcher Childress that and Chris Dunn and Brien Foesrester that believe that much older compilations have contributed to the construction.

One thing is for sure, not all historians agree, so many of these question remains unanswered. But they do agree that the story of Peru travels back thousands of years into the past.

Exact masonry so precise, no motar used.

Exact masonry so precise, no motar used, some believe constructed by ancient cultures dating back thousands of years. What do you think?

Miro and I walked along the walls that encased the once great structure and noticed there were 3 distinct stone works styles in the wall. The Spanish built the highest level but the lower two levels that created the perimeter are distinct from one another. There is at the foundation, very precise stone work where all the blocks fit together with such precision, to this day, not even a human hair can fit between the joints. And the bricks themselves are not a uniform size, as it appears each stone was cut specifically for that location. In fact, the same stone work can be found at Sacsayhuamán, just outside the perimeter of Cusco. The difference between the stones at Sacsayhuamán and Coricancha is that they are of greater scale, some stones weighing up to 100 tons. But walls of Coricancha are smoothed. We are told the Incas had only stone chisels a few hundred years ago.

Miro walks along the walls of Coricancha

Miro walks along the walls of Coricancha

Archaeologists, who have researched Cusco and the Sacred Valley, across the many sites left behind can agree that numerous earlier cultures thrived in the area, pre dating the Incas. One example is the Killke culture which flourished from 900 to 1200 AC, prior to the Inca period. Some mainstream archeologists attribute the grand the walled complex, known as Sacsayhuamán, just outside of Cusco as being built by the Killke. However there is a growing number of researcher from many disciplines that believe that ancient cultures thrived in Peru thousands of years back. And with greater technology than we are led to believe was possible.

I will be exploring some of the other sites throughout the Sacred Valley and into Bolivia in the future. Keep in mind, to have the technology of cutting, moving, measuring and creating massive structures with precision would require technology on the same scale as the builders of the great pyramids in Egypt and other sites throughout the planet. As a life-learning adult, archeology continues to amaze me.

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