The Indigenous Capilla de Cantuña: The Christian Temple of The Sun


  • Kevin Torres-Spicer Cal Poly Pomona


The Cantuña chapel within the St. Francis complex in Quito, Ecuador, was one of the first churches built after the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century. Named after its native builder Cantuña, the chapel strongly relates to the Incan sun deity, Inti. According to common belief, Spanish accounts place the Franciscan complex atop the palace-temple of the Incan ruler, Inti's incarnation.  In this research, I examined vital elements, such as the gilded altarpiece, in Quito's Cantuña Chapel. I argued that the chapel acts as a monument that records Indigenous identities through the Cara, Inca, and Spanish conquests by preserving an aspect of native culture in a material format that transcends time. Most importantly, because the Cantuña chapel remains the least altered viceregal church in the region, it is a valuable testament to the various conquests and religious conversions of the Kingdom of Quito.