Thursday, May 17, 2018

Carpe Diem #1435 Coricancha - The Temple of the Sun

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

Yesterday we had our first encounter with the ancient Inca Empire. In this Empire the Sun was worshipped and in a lot of buildings like e.g. temples we can see that. All the Inca buildings were created with help of Astronomers, they could tell how the building, a city or a temple had to be built according to the mathematics of the Universe.

The Inca, like the religion of Aton in ancient Egypt, was a one god religion, but there were always smaller deities. Every Inca Emperor was seen as God, and so they were the Sun ...

One of the most beautiful temples of the Inca Empire was situated in Cusco, where we were yesterday, and was called "The Temple of The Sun" or "Coricancha". It was the most important temple of the Empire.

remains of Coricancha in Cusco
Let me tell you a little bit more about this important temple:

Coricancha, the Incas' temple of the sun built in the shadows of the Andes. The thin air and harsh, rocky slopes of the Peruvian Andes wouldn’t seem to be a likely locale for the capital of an extensive pre-Columbus empire. Any community seeking to thrive under these conditions would need to be equipped with tremendous ambition – and no small amount of political and mechanical ingenuity.

Luckily for the Incas, they had these in abundance, and were able to tame the harsh landscapes to create the largest empire in South America before the arrival of the Europeans, using a blend of religious belief, political will and clever design. Nowhere is this more evident than at Coricancha – the temple of the sun – which they built as the crown jewel of their capital city of Cusco, and the centrepiece of an empire that revolutionised city planning in South America.


When Pachacútec assumed the Incan throne in 1438, he began to reform the city of Cusco by restructuring the street grid, which remains to this day. The city is said to be designed in the shape of a puma, with Coricancha located in the animal’s tail, and considered the holiest site in Incan mythology.

The location of Coricancha within the city was very important. Placed at the convergence of the four main highways and connected to the four districts of the empire, the temple cemented the symbolic importance of religion, uniting the divergent cultural practices that were observed in the vast territory controlled by the Incas.

Inca priest

As well as housing more than 4,000 priests, the positioning of the temple in relation to the nearby Andes mountains meant that Coricancha functioned as an enormous calendar. Shadows cast by stones placed on the foothills could be seen from the temple, marking out the solstice and equinoxes observed by the Incan empire.

The temple complex consisted of four main chambers, each dedicated to a different deity of the moon, stars, thunder and rainbows. Much of Coricancha was filled with gold, with one chamber containing a giant sun disc, reflecting sunlight that illuminated the rest of the temple. The disc was aligned so that during the summer solstice it illuminated a sacred space where only the emperor himself was allowed to sit.

The Sun disc was aligned so that during the summer solstice it illuminated a sacred space where only the emperor himself was allowed to sit. In this we can see how the Emperor of the Inca  was worshipped as a god.
high in the mountains
the sun shines bright and always
eyes of the Inca

© Chèvrefeuille (senryu)

What a richness ... a temple plated with gold to honor the sun and his human form ... the Emperor of the Inca Empire. 

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until May 24th at noon (CEST). I will try to publish our new weekend-meditation later on.


  1. Kristjaan, I can't find a link on this post.

    1. Sorry I thought I had added it, but I didn't. I have included the linking widget. Thank you for telling me.

  2. I am enjoying reading the inca series, I feel like I am traveling