Travelers with their hearts set on travel to Machu Picchu and Cusco will find the South American nation to be a hub of culture, art and history. While there is a plethora of attractions that vacationers will want to visit during their stay in the Incan capital of Cusco, one stop at the top of the list will have to be the historic temple of Koricancha.

Taken from the Quechua words Quri Kancha, meaning “golden courtyard,” Koricancha was once the most important temple in the Inca Empire. The site was constructed in honor of the sun deity Inti and the creator god Viracocha. Its walls were once covered in lustrous sheets of gold, and its courtyards were lined with golden statues of the Incan pantheon.

The temple was among the casualties of Spanish exploration in the region, and on the site now stands the Cathedral of Santo Domingo — itself a marvelous structure incorporating both Spanish colonial and traditionally Incan elements in its edifice.

Key to the structure's survival is the intricate masonry of the Inca, as the mortarless stone construction has allowed the temple to survive countless earthquakes over the years. Students of Incan history will recognize several other hallmarks of the ancient civilization, including trapezoidal doorways, curved retaining walls and stone carvings unique to the Inca culture.

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