As you explore Cusco, you will find an impressive number of museums, temples and archaeological sites inside and outside the city limits. The Coricancha and the Convent of Santo Domingo are just two of them.
Although the exact history of both is unclear, what is known dates back several centuries and easily captivates the most curious travelers passing through the ancient Inca capital. Let’s see!
What is Coricancha and where is it located?
Coricancha, also known as Koricancha, Qoricancha or Qorikancha, is an ancient temple that was the most important in the Inca empire. The name translates as golden enclosure in Quechua.
Built over the temple of Coricancha is the Convent of Santo Domingo, which was built by the Spanish in 1633.
Both Coricancha and the Santo Domingo Convent are located two blocks from the Plaza de Armas at the intersection of El Sol Avenue and Santo Domingo Street.
Price to enter Coricancha and the Santo Domingo Convent
There are a couple of options to visit the Coricancha museum. They consist of the following:
Day ticket: 15 soles ($5 USD) for adults.
Integral Tourist Ticket: 130 soles ($40 USD) for adults, which allows access to 16 attractions in Cusco and the Sacred Valley for 10 days, including Coricancha.
Discounts are also offered for children and students. In addition, if you wish to see some, but not all of the attractions included in the Boleto Turístico Integral, Partial Tourist Tickets are available at a lower cost.
In the subway archaeological museum of Coricancha you will see mummies, sacred idols, textiles, sculptures and more from ancient Inca times. You can visit:
Monday through Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Sunday: 2:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Please note that entrance to the Coricancha museum may be limited on holidays.
If you wish to stay near the center of the city of Cusco, you have a wide variety of options. Some of the most popular are:
JW Marriott Hotel, which elegantly combines luxury with colonial design.
Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel, a hotel-museum built in an old colonial mansion.
Hotel Plaza de Armas Cusco, with an incomparable view of the square and its surrounding churches.
Casa Andina Standard Cusco Plaza, a more economical option located just one block from the square.
Inkaterra La Casona Relais & Chateaux, a 16th century colonial mansion converted into a boutique.
The origins of Coricancha
There is much debate about the exact origins of the temple of Coricancha. Some historians claim that the construction of the temple dates back to pre-Inca times, asserting that only the remodeling of the temple can be credited to the Inca Pachacutec after his victory over the Chancas in the 15th century.
However, no matter when it was built, the construction of the Cusco temple continues to stand the test of time.
The exacting precision of the mortarless interlocking stones not only exemplifies the imperial power of the Incas, but has also withstood earthquakes over the centuries.
The Coricancha was created with four temples surrounding a central plaza: the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Moon, the Temple of Venus and the Stars, and the Temple of the Rainbow. Outside the enclosed temples was the outer garden, or Sacred Garden of the Sun.
Undoubtedly, the temple dedicated to the Sun God, Inti, was the most important. It was completely covered with gold plates and within its boundaries were statues of gold and silver deities. It is said that the large amount of precious metals in Coricancha made it shine.
However, with the conquest of the Spanish in the 16th century, the temple of Coricancha was destroyed, and all the gold was looted and sent to Spanish royalty.
Then, under Catholic rule, the Convent of Santo Domingo was built on top of it. Its construction took the better part of a century.
Photos of Coricancha
Today, some of the most important features of Cusco’s ancient temple are now overshadowed by the grandiose Convent of Santo Domingo.
A view of the Convent of Santo Domingo from outside Perfectly interlocking stones inside an original Inca room, Perfectly interlocking stones inside an original Inca room.
Interested in visiting the temple of Coricancha and the Convent of Santo Domingo? Let us help you book your train to Machu Picchu with options departing directly from the city of Cusco. Don’t miss out on the adventure of experiencing Peru’s rich history during your customized trip to Machu Picchu!