Peru: Cusco – Qoricancha & Santo Domingo Church
A logical place to start exploring Cusco is at the Santo Domingo Church, also known as Qoiricancha or the Golden Temple. Cusco was the capital on the Inca Empire and the Qoricancha was the Royal Temple in the very heart of the city. Its walls were covered with sheets of pure gold and pure gold lifelike statues of people and llamas stood in the courtyards. The Spanish described the amount of gold here as “beyond belief” and it was all stripped and plundered over several months and then moved to Lima and melted down. The Qoricancha temple was also the ultimate of the Inca stonework with each large stone meticulously selected and polished and cut to fit the others in LEGO-like interlocking fashion – totally surreal. The Spanish later used the temple as the foundation for their church which actually was destroyed three times by earthquakes (Inca-built structures remained absolutely intact). It’s a bit of a human zoo of tourists in here, but still worth the visit.