Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cusco, Peru

Cuzco is a city bursting with history. Before the Spanish conquest, it was the capital of the Inca empire and while much of the original architecture was demolished when the conquistadors attempted to transplant their culture onto the Inca people there are still impressive examples of the grandeur the city had during Inca times. In many cases Inca buildings have been incorporated into colonial structures. This provides an interesting juxtaposition of two contemporary but strikingly different architectural styles. The Spanish masonry seems clumsy atop the precise stonework of the Incas. This was a tangible indication of the diverse body of global knowledge lost (or ignored) during the cultural genocide of the colonial era.

The church of Santo Domingo (built on the foundation of Quri kancha Temple)

Quri kancha translates from Quechua to "Golden courtyard". The site was originally named Inti Kancha (Temple of the Sun) and is said to have been one of the most important temples in the Inca Empire. Early Spanish reports claim that its floors and walls were covered in sheets of gold and the courtyard was lined with golden statues. The Spaniards demolished much of Quri Kancha in the 17th century and built the Dominican Priory and the Church of Santo Domingo upon its foundation.

In 1950 a strong earthquake destroyed much of Cuzco's colonial and republican architecture but left the sophisticated Inca architecture relatively unscathed. Collapsed colonial walls in the Dominican Priory and the Church of Santo Domingo revealed Inca walls which were long thought demolished. After the earthquake the local authorities were faced with a dilemma. Should they restore the colonial buildings and hide the Inca architecture, or clear the colonial debris and leave the Inca architecture exposed? The Dominican Priory and the Church of Santo Domingo chose the latter and as a result is perhaps the best example of Inca-Colonial architectural fusion.

Iglesia La Compañía de Jesús

Plaza de Armas

The Cathedral - built on the foundation of the Inca Palace of Viracocha which was demolished during conquest in order to make way for the Cathedral.

Museum of Religious Art:

The stone of 12 angles on a rare occasion when it was not surrounded by tourists.

No comments: