Machu Picchu is an Inca citadel of great importance declared as a world heritage site
Lost City – Sacred City – Cradle of the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu Located at 2430 meters above sea level in a place of great beauty, in the middle of a mountain rainforest, the sanctuary of Machu Picchu was probably the architectural achievement the most astonishing of the Inca Empire at its peak. Its walls, terraces and gigantic ramps give the impression of having been carved into the cliffs of the rock, as if they were part of it. The natural setting, located on the eastern slope of the Andes, is part of the upper Amazon basin, which has a wide variety of flora and fauna.
The archaeological area is located on the left bank of the “Vilcanota” river, in the Kusi Chaka ravine, up to the mouth of the “Aobamba” river. In the district of Machu Picchu, province of Urubamba, department of Cusco at 112.5 km. northeast of the city of Cusco in Peru. To get to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, you can choose two routes:
- Via the Inca Trail
- Train to Aguas Calientes and from there by car or on foot until you reach the mountain where the citadel is located.
Machu Picchu, is Quechua term with the meaning of Old Mountain. Today it is universally known, both for its imposing archaeological remains and for its incomparable location, on the edge of an abyss at the bottom of which flow the mighty waters of the “Urubamba” River.
Machu Picchu, more than a citadel, is an architectural complex that lacks only roofs. This complex is called a city, due to the large number of houses which currently number over 200, and at its peak there must have been more. In addition, its design includes squares, temples, roads, stairs, terraces, aqueducts, etc.
The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu includes well differentiated areas, which historians have classified into sectors, for the possible uses that the Incas gave it.
SUPERIOR AGRICULTURAL ZONE
It is the one found on the current access road, from the middle to the top, made up of a series of agricultural terraces. At the top is what most call “The Cemetery” which was in fact a ceremonial agricultural sector, which is planted with endless stones. In this square is a construction called “The Superior Guardians” which is nothing more than a utilitarian construction of the “Wayrana” type (three-walled Inca construction). Then, almost in the middle of the square, there is a carved rock called “La Roca Funeraria” which is given various functions related to funeral rites, but in reality, it was a ceremonial altar of an agricultural character. In the background, you can see several buildings called “Qholqas” or large deposits. Next is a series of agricultural terraces generally referred to as platforms, but many of them are found with a large amount of vegetation.
LOWER AGRICULTURAL ZONE
Located in the lower part of what is the current access road to the citadel. In this area are “Los Guardianes Inferiores”, places that were in fact the homes of farmers. It should also be mentioned that there are agricultural terraces covered with vegetation here. The soil found on these terraces is vegetable humus which was brought from another place and deposited on these terraces.
The religious sector
Composed of four constructions and some special lithics. It is a group of buildings linked to religious functions. This set breaks down as follows:
The main temple
This area is better known as the “Temple of the Sun”. It should be noted that in the Inca period, the sun was not the most important deity, its design is more linked to the concept of light. This construction is made of isodoma blocks with surprising construction and fit. The characteristic is that they are lithic blocks which, as has been observed, those of the lower part are semi-megalithic in character and those of the upper parts are small. The building has several trapezoidal niches arranged in 5-7-5 (5 in each side setting and 7 in the center). Apart from this, in the lower part of the frontal parameter three lithics of considerable dimensions. This block is the ceremonial area of the temple and the two small blocks are secondary elements or accessory tables of the high altar for the placement of the objects which were used for the placement of the objects which were used for the paraphernalia of the performed rites in this place.
The temple of the three windows
Three-walled “Wayrana” type construction, although there is a small difference in the front part, where there is no wall but a stone pillar to support the low beam of the roof. The physical element of the presence of the three windows is directly linked to the symbolic-ideological trilogy of the religion of the Andean world, such as:
- Centella – Lightning – Thunder
- Sun – Moon – Stars
- Puma – Serpent – Condor
That is to say, an element clearly of the symbolic ritual architecture. In addition to the three windows, this place has two trapezoidal blind niches, which brings us to another idea which would be much more linked to the ideological relationship of the memories of the origins. It is therefore this construction linked to the symbolism of the three lands (pashas) or union of the worlds within the Andean ideology. All this for the reason of the existence of the lithic which has the carved stepped sign.
The Priest’s House
A construction of a ritual and utilitarian nature, that is to say as a repository of paraphernalia objects.
The stone of rites or the rock of ceremonies
It is a large block located at the corner of access to the temples of the Plaza de los. It is indicated that this large block was a ritual altar, a sacred rock, in which certain religious rites related to the sector were practiced, such as offerings, sacrifices, etc.
The priests’ room o Temple of the stars
Construction which is in the rear part of the main temple. Its walls are made up of rectangular lithics of the cut stone or rectangular isodoma type. It has 13 trapezoidal niches and a monolithic stone which has 24 angles. Due to these characteristics and also due to the type of construction and its location, it was related to ceremonial rites, although we cannot specify which rites it was dedicated to.
It was an element of astronomical observation and calendar use; At no time was it a sundial, it also had ceremonial and liturgical functions, it is not possible to specify what type of religious activities were carried out in this place, nor the type of deity worshiped.
The sacred rock or earth temple sector
In the Quechua state, there was a double representation of the earth, that is to say two concepts: the first, of the world in the cosmos or of the physical and ideological circular earth called “Teqse Muyo”; and the second, was to carve a rock with the profiles of a mountain, this element represented the concept of the visible and exploitable earth, for which he was a waka. In this way, the sector was directly linked to rites of an agrarian character and rites to the land.
The intellectual district or called the three doors district
According to a logic of social architecture and by the Inca urban planning system, and finally by ethnohistoric and ethnoarchaeological appreciation, we see that these were utilitarian districts, that is to say houses, warehouses, workshops, etc. Therefore, the idea of an exclusive neighborhood for thinkers and intellectuals is discarded.
The sacred rock or temple of condor
We cannot deny this carved rock a ritual function because it was a symbol linked to a totemic element which is a bird (condor or perhaps a “huaman” = eagle or falcon) linked to the trilogy of totemic animals of ideology Andean, utilitarian, because it had to fulfill the functions of a work table.
Schedule and load capacity
The entrance time to the Citadel of Machu Picchu is from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the departure time is until 5:00 p.m. with a capacity of 2,500 visitors per day. Prices can be viewed on the electronic ticket.