Temple of the sun and moon

Cusco’s Temple of the Moon, a very mysterious site.

If you want to get to get to the Temple of the Moon, you need to take a dirt road that branches off the Cusco – Pisac highway just beyond the archeological site of Q’enko. It leads up to a field from where you can see the mound of the Temple of the Moon on the other side of the field. Entrance to the Moon Temple is free and is un-governed by the Ministry of Culture (for now). A taxi from Cusco takes 20 minutes and costs about 20 Soles (US$ 7.50 each way). It is recommended to take a taxi there and return to Cusco on foot (takes about 2 hours).

The Temple of the Moon is located on the outskirts of Cusco is a fascinating and mysterious archeological site. Richard Nisbet takes a closer look at the rarely visited attraction and challenges some of the theories surrounding its origins.Cusco’s Temple of the Moon is a big hill with two caves inside it. The caves contain alters, and cracks in the walls let in sunlight and the moonlight that strikes the alters on certain nights. There are carvings in the caves: a snake, a puma.

the moon temple

A hike up to the top of the hill will reveal carvings that seem to have no purpose. (This is something that can be said about many of the stone carvings. It is as if those who did the work were just having fun, but it certainly looks like laborious fun.) The Carvings At the entrance to one of the Temple of the Moon’s caves is a carving that is anachronistic. It looks an awful lot like a member of the elephant family. Could it be a Mammoth or a Mastodon? These creatures haven’t existed in the Western Hemisphere for over twelve thousand years. It begs the question, how old are all the stone carvings in the Temple of the Moon.

Beyond Cusco’s Temple of the Moon is an open area that has a number of Huacas, sacred sites. Huacas can be anything from a tree to a waterfall, but these huacas are carved stone shrines. The remarkable thing about these stone carvings is the difference in weathering

But story books want to tell you that most of the great stone structures of Cusco and the Peruvian Andes were constructed during the time of the Inca king Pachacuti in the mid-1400s AD. That would include Sacsahuaman, Machu Picchu, Pisac and Ollantaytambo, not to mention the temples in Cusco itself. Don’t believe it. The Andean people around Cusco have been working these stones for perhaps thousands of years. The stonemasons were either enormously patient, or had some way of shaping stone that is completely lost to us. Various methods have been suggested: Perhaps there was a plant that could soften stone. Or perhaps they had some way of melting stones with heat. These suggestions may be seem a little far-fetched, but less so than another oft- suggested answer. But It was aliens that did it.

The temple of the sun A.K.A Koricancha.

Koricancha’s construction is believed to have been initiated by the first Inca, by Manco Capac circa in 1200AD, Manco Capac and his wife Mama Ocllo are said to have come from Lake Titicaca and travelled the Andean landscape together until they reached what they thought to be the center of the world, Q’osco, which means belly button in Quechua.

They were also in charge of finding the right geographic location for what would be the most important temple of the kingdom of Cusco, which would would later expand to become the Inca Empire. Koricancha is located on a natural hill that is nestled between two rivers, Shapy-Huatanay and Tullumayo.

Places like this are sacred because they convene near Apus (Gods) such as rivers, rocks and mountains. The temple was initially known as Inticancha, but the name was changed to Koricancha ( kori meaning gold and kancha meaning enclosure) after the restructuring and gold-laden embellishment given to it by the Sapa (Ruling) Inca.

temple moon

According to C.H. Cuadra from the Akita Prefectural University of Japan, “In [Koricancha’s] type of construction, the adjacent stones are carefully shaped and fit snugly against each other without the use of mortar. The Koricancha temple is the most representative structure of the finest stone masonry of the Incas.

The stones used to build Koricancha were quarried 20-30 km from the city of Cusco in the towns of Waqoto and Rumicolca. The construction stones used to build Koricancha include plutonic diorite rocks and extrusive Andean sites as well as softer calcareous rocks. Like with all Inca architecture, Koricancha’s stone structure is brilliantly designed to withstand the motions of the earth’s vibrations.

Koricancha is built with many construction mechanisms used by the Incas, such as the vertical inclination of walls, trapezoidal shape of the structures, irregular shapes and rounded edges. Increased breadth on the bottom coupled with ~ 3-5 degree inclination gives the walls remarkable stability that has withstood centuries of earthquakes, which are common to the area. The staggered and mortar free assemblage of the stones also makes them seismically resistant in strong earthquakes because the stones are able to wiggle in place, thereby releasing the seismic stresses, settle back into position and then lock after earthquakes.

These combined methods make the structures basically earthquake proof. It is not just the precisely worked stone that is impressive but also the keen understanding of stability in structure that amazes a spectrum of artists, architects and seismic engineers or maybe outer space engineers