Qorikancha#5 in Best Things To Do in Cusco
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For a glimpse of the Inca's former grandeur, look no further than Qoricancha (Temple of the Sun), also known as "Court of Gold." In its heyday, Inca's elite watched as light bounced from 700 gold-plated walls and danced across the temple's altars and statues. And its splendor stretched from its glimmering exterior walls into its regal confines, where approximately 4,000 of the most prestigious priests and their attendants resided.
With gold gleaming from nearly every surface of the compound, it's easy to see why the Spanish were enamored with Qorikancha's riches. After the conquistadors invaded Cusco in 1533 – and looted all its gold – only the Inca's elaborate masonry remained. Utilizing the Inca's masterful work as their foundation, the Spaniards began building their own churches and monuments on top of and around the structure, creating a rich blend of Andean and Spanish architecture.
Visitors say that although the site isn’t as impressive as other Incan ruins, it perfectly represents how the Spanish transformed impressive Incan temples into their own. Plus, its location at Plazoleta Santo Domingo, just south of Plaza de Armas, makes it much more accessible than other ruins, namely Machu Picchu.
You'll find Qorikancha located at Plazoleta Santo Domingo, which sits just south of Plaza de Armas. As part of the grounds, a small museum walks guests through the history of the temple. Admission costs 10 soles (about $3). Visitors are welcome to visit the temple from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.
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#1 Plaza de Armas
The history of the Plaza de Armas stretches back all the way to the Inca Empire when it was called Huacaypata or Aucaypata. The massive square (originally twice its current size) was built as a venue for festivals and ceremonies in ancient times.
According to legend, this plaza once marked the exact center of the Inca Empire, earning Cusco the nickname "the navel of the world." After Spanish conquistadors conquered the city in the early 1500s, they erected two churches on the either sides of the square – Iglesia de La Compañía de Jesús and La Catedral – where the former Incan palace once stood.
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