The Inca palace was located on what is now called the Plaza de Armas. The palaces in Cusco were converted, or built over, to transform them into churches, monasteries, convents, or homes for the Spaniards, The stones used for the construction of the churches were harvested from the nearby Sacsayhuaman site. Today, the churches are central characters of the Plaza de Armas and keepers of art and history of the region.
San Blas Cathedral:
Church of San Blas is an understated façade that does not hint at the treasures housed within. The real jewel in the proverbial crown is the ornate pulpit carved from a single cedar stump. The artist, Juan Tomás Tuyro Tupaq, carved the pulpit using a drawing as his guide. His creation is something to ponder. He suffered from leprosy and the pain he must have endured to carve this stunning work of art is a visual testament to, not only his artistry, but his devotion. This may be the very definition of “labor of love” in the visible format.
Temple of the Sun:
The Temple of the Sun (Qurikancha) was the site of the great opulent temple in the Inca Empire. The accounts of the gold statues, ornaments, and plates make an interesting read. All of the gold has long since removed and melted down during the Spanish Conquest. It is still a beautiful place to visit full of history.
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin:
We walked to the Cathedral on the Plaza de Armas. The Cathedral was originally built OVER the Inca temple (Wiracocha) in the 16th and 17th centuries. Interestingly, the Inca temples below the current Cathedral survived earthquakes – the “newer” structures did not fare as well and have been rebuilt. Nevertheless, it is still the centerpiece of the town and is beautiful. Today it houses several works of art attributed to the Cusco School of Art, including the painting of The Last Supper which features a cuy (guinea pig) rather than a lamb because that is what is familiar in the Andes.
Hang in there with me. The hiking gets a little more challenging, and you know I'm going to make you laugh with me. Okay, I'll be honest. You will be laughing AT me not WITH me. Until next week...