Some of my favorite art in Peru dives into the country’s history with gold and sunlight using a single photograph.

The Qoricancha is an ancient Inca temple, turned Spanish colonial monastery, turned modern-day museum. You can trace it’s fascinating history through its architecture.

But beyond being a beautiful and historically significant site, it also houses interesting art exhibits featuring local Peruvian artists. The temporary exhibits are on the second story of the covered walkways surrounding the inner courtyard. And while I was there, I was blown away by this:

It’s a nice enough photograph — good lighting, depth of field, and a just barely asymmetrical composition — but what immediately caught my attention was its concept.

The photo is of a girl facing away from the camera looking toward a body of water. The girl’s back has a tan line making out the symbol for gold. Ancient Inca civilization worshipped the sun. In fact the Qoricancha was originally called the Inti Cancha, or Sun Temple. After it was covered in gold sheets, locals began calling it the Qoricancha, or Gold Temple. When conquistadors captured the Inca King, the ransom was paid in large part with the gold from the temple. Conquistadors were obsessed with the Inca gold. They even spent decades looking for a fabled city of gold that was never found.

I wondered who the artist was, but couldn’t find a placard. It’s little discoveries like this that make travel so worthwhile.

Related reading:

These buildings are Incan below and conquistador on top

— Laura Rowley

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Written by Laura Rowley

I am an artist, flight attendant, and travel blogger.

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