Friday 1 September 2017

An Excursion To South America: 16. Cuzco Historical Sites

Below are a few more historical sites that I visited around Cuzco.

Qorikancha which is sometimes spelled as Koricancha, Coricancha or Qoricancha was a very important temple during the Inca times. Originally known as Temple of The Sun, Qorikancha which was built in the mid 15th century was literally glittering with gold. Its walls and floors were known to be lined with 700 sheets of gold each weighing 2 kg. The interior was filled with statues, ornaments and altars made of gold and silver. It is also said that the mummified bodies of a few Inca kings were kept here, brought out into the sunlight each day and offered food and drink, which was then ritually burnt. When the Spanish invaded the Incas in 1533, much of this temple was destroyed and the gold looted. All that remained of the temple today is the fine Inca stonework which was used by these early conquerors as a foundation for the construction of the Church and Convent of Santa Domingo. Today the site is a fusion of Inca and Spanish architecture. Even though the church was badly damaged and reconstructed each time an earthquake hit Cuzco, the stone walls built by the Incas have remained intact. This amazing skill displayed by the Incas in stone masonry is a marvel and boggles even today's modern engineers.

 Photo Gallery

The Courtyard and the imposing dome of Santa Domingo Church
The Centre Of The Courtyard
Remnants of the walls of a room built by the Incas

Entrance into Church of Santa Domingo
Church Of Santa Domingo

Beautiful paintings on church ceiling
Structures installed by the early Spaniards.
An old door in the church
One of The Rooms Turned Into A Gallery 
The Beautiful Garden Of Qorikancha

Flowers in the garden of Qorikancha
View of Cuzco City From Qorikancha
Outside Qorikancha
Outside Qorikancha
Activities outside Qorikancha
Activities outside Qorikancha

2. Sacsayhuaman Fortress
Sacsayhuaman which almost sounds like 'sexy woman' was a massive fortified complex built by the Incas for military as well as religious purposes. It is located in the outskirt of Cuzco at an elevation that is even higher than the city. At 12,000 feet/3700 meters the air around here is also thinner than in the city.  This complex comprises three parallel walls of varying levels built using  carved limestones of enormous sizes. The fascination of the complex lies in the size of the stones used and the dexterity and artistry involved in shaping them to interlock perfectly without using sophisticated tools. Unfortunately only 20% of the complex remain as much of the stones were dug out to built the city by the Spanish conquerors. 

 Photo Gallery
A woman with her alpaca against the backdrop of  Sacsayhuaman Fortress

Three parallel rows of  walls at different levels.

Stones that interlock perfectly and which have withstood many earthquakes.

Walls and more walls. Big stones and small stones. Stones carved into multi sides to interlock perfectly with each other. 
From Sacsayhuaman overlooking Cuzco City

3. Qenko
Qenko was the last archaeological site I visited. It is not as impressive as the earlier two and I was getting sick from lack of oxygen by then. It is a very rocky site with a large natural cavity in one of the rocks. This chamber houses a stone altar, where the Incas probably performed rituals and sacrifices.

Photo Gallery
Entrance into Qenko Site
Vendors selling their wares at the entrance
A lot of rocks

View of Cuzco from Kenko

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