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Religious Syncretism in Qoricancha
The Catholic Church played a major role in the Spanish Conquest that took place during the first half of the 16th century. Missionaries executed a swift and aggressive evangelization process that imposed Catholicism on the indigenous people, banned the ancient Incan religion, and condemned resistance as heresy. The two traditions settled into a unique form of syncretism when the Indians that converted to Catholicism adapted traditional elements of their Inca religion to the new faith.

Qoricancha Palace is deeply representative of this cultural melding, from its major art works to the smallest details. Qoricancha, which means "gold enclosure" in the Quechua language, was the main Inca temple built in Cusco City during the reign of the Inca Wiracocha around the year 1200 A.D. It is said that only Inca nobility was allowed into this golden temple. Many of the walls were destroyed during the Spanish conquest, and the entire building was modified into a Catholic church according to the Dominican Order. However, the large trapezoidal stones of the original foundation survived the changes, as did some of the ancient walls. The result is a temple of mixed traditions with a curious appearance and a fascinating past. Do not pass up the opportunity to enter the palace and explore the history of syncretism in the Andes!
A Glittering Past
There's no shortage of Inca ruins in the region—after all, that's probably why you're here—but if your schedule in Cusco only permits a visit to one, head to Qorikancha. Once the richest temple in the Inca Empire—in its heyday it was covered in 700 solid gold sheets, and adorned with gold and silver statues—the site is now barren, save for some of the best-preserved stonework in Peru. Wander through the chambers, niches, and courtyards, which now feature a mix of the original 15th-century structure and the subsequent colonial flourishes (after the Spanish conquest of Peru, the site passed into private hands, and then to the Dominicans—whose frescoes adorn the outside courtyard).

Photo by Ben Miller/Flickr.
A Glittering Past Cuzco  Peru

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