South America

and church of Saint Dominic

A brief description.

The Spanish invasion
in Peru. The Inca-city Cuzco.


The Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro (1471/75-26.06.1541) invaded Peru in 1532 and occupied the Inca-city Cuzco in September 1533.

Maria Rostworoski means it was the first Inka, Manco Qhapaq who built the original temple with the name 'Inticancha', Sun Palace. Since 1438 the ninth Inca, Pachacuti Inca Yuganqui reconstructed, enlarged, improved and modernized the most important religious complex of the vast Incan Society, with the name 'Corricancha', Golden Palace.

According to the chronicles, it was one of the most magnificent constructions of the Incan Cusco. In the inner part, the precincts' walls, made of finely polished stone, were entirely covered with gold and silver sheets, idols and the representation of the sun.

After the Spaniards ransacked the temples and emptied them of gold (which they melted down, of course), Francisco Pizarro's half-brother Juan was given the command of Cuzco and the eviscerated Temple of the Sun in 1534. 


The Dominican priory and church.


Juan Pizarro donated the Temple of the Sun to the Dominican Order, represented by Vicente Valverde, O.P. (+11 November 1541), first Bishop of Cuzco-City, since 8 January 1537. But after the fall of Cuzco the allied Inca's attempted an attack on their holy city from February till August 1536, and the city burned down.Only the stone walls of the temples were saved. Juan Pizarro died soon after, though, at the battle at Sacsayhuamán,


The vicar-provincial of the Dominicans in Peru, Juan Olías, O.P. immediately executed the construction of their priory and the Saint Dominic Church over the most important Temple of the Sun, demolishing it almost completely in order to adapt it to its new use. The construction of this priory took several years, until its official consecration in 1633.


An earthquake on March 31, 1650, destroyed  the church and priory. It was practically impossible to inhabit it.  The chronicler Esquivel: "There was no church, cell or cloister left that could serve as a shelter". The reconstruct of the church and the priory started in 1680
under the direction of Fray Francisco Muñoz.


With approbation of Pope Innocent XII (Bul: Aeternae Sapientiae, 20 June 1690) and of the Spanish King (6 October 1690) the University Real y Pontificia Universidad de San Antonio Abad de Cuzco. was founded in this priory on 1st March 1692.


The belfry was constructed during the 1729-1731 period.      

It constitutes one of the few significant constructions that date of the XVIII century.


On May 21st. 1950, another violent earthquake destroyed a large part of the priory and church as well as its tower, leaving uncovered many Incan structures and the interior area of the "Solar Round Building". By that time a strong "Indigenist Movement" suggested the relocation of the church and recovery of the Sun Temple.

Since 1975, the priory and church were reconstructed; at the same time some archaeological digs were performed too.

Inside the church.
The layout comprises three basilica-type aisles, being the central aisle pretty much higher than the other two aisles. The bare hewn stone of its walls is accentuated by the almost total lack of altarpieces, which had been replaced by simple niches in most of the lateral chapels.
In these chapels we will be able to appreciate some images with a sculptural value, such as the Saint Dominic carved in 1698 by the Indigenous master Melchor Guamán Maita.
In the main chapel, also stripped of its altar, it is possible to see a collection of paintings related to the Dominican order that surround the Virgen del Rosario (Virgin of the Rosary) of the Spaniards, main devotion of the church. The pulpit is baroque, structured by wreathed columns and crowned by the image of Saint Vicente Ferrer.

The paintings that cover the space under the choir are also dedicated to this saint preacher. They are totally adjusted to the curves of the arcs or to the pillars' shape. All these canvases were painted by Marcos Zapata or Sapaca Inca (1710-1773). He painted also 50 linen cloths with the Laurentina Litany for the church.

The porch.
The priory's porch has some eye-catching wall paintings with "grotesque" motives that decorate the cloister vaults of the ceiling.

The astounding main cloister.
When you enter to the main cloister you will be able to appreciate one of the largest and most beautiful Renaissance arcades in the entire city. In the middle of the yard, instead of the traditional fountain, there is a rectangular stone tank proceeding from the Incan temple. The main decoration of the convent is constituted by a cycle of paintings about the life of the order's founder, Saint Dominic de Guzmán, carried out by José Espinosa de los Monteros around 1675-79. Many of the characters appear with Spanish-style clothes, according to the prevailing fashion trends in the reign of Philip III.

The sacred temple of the sun.
At two sides of the cloister, the colonial construction has been removed to expose the temples that surrounded the main Indian temple. They are magnificent hewn stone constructions, perforated by niches and trapezoidal openings, where people worshiped the moon, the lightning, the thunder and the rainbow.

The museum.
 It is worth going through the Koricancha esplanade, which has been recently restored, and finishing the visit in the site museum that presents the archaeological findings carried out during the last excavations in the zone. Both in the sacristy and in the old chapter house they have installed exhibition rooms of the Dominican museum of religious art, which gathers furniture, silverware, paintings, images and liturgical ornaments treasured for many centuries by this convent.
The priory has a very valuable art gallery with canvases of the XVII and XVIII century. Likewise, there are remarkable images of saints such as Saint Juan Masías, Saint Martín de Porras, Saint Rosa de Lima, and the Virgin of the Rosary, among others.

In the library of the priory the historic drama ‘Ollantay’(Allanta or Ollanta) in Quechnas language of the Incas is conserved, noted by the Spanish Dominican of Sevilla Diego of Hojeda (1570-1615).

Source: Internet by Travel Consulting, Tourist Operation Management & Electronic Air Tickets Distribution and many other sites.




On the stamp the back of the church of Saint Dominic  on the walls
of the Inca temple
'Inticancha’, Temple of the Sun, in Cuzco.


Peru 1974, Mi 966, Sc C399.





Micaela Puyucahua  Bastidas, born in Tamburco (Peru) in 1745, was a freedom fighter against the Spanish occupiers of Peru with her husband Túpac Amaru II (José Gabriel Condorcan-qui (1743-1781), also freedom fighter and revolutionist. Both were arrested and killed on the Plaza de Armas in Cusco on 18 May 1781.

On this Plaza de Armas the Dominican church of Cusco.


Peru 2006, Mi 2128-29; Sc - .  On order.



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