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Machu Picchu Mountain

The History of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu Mountain is as it is known today to this citadel of the Inca Empire whose ruins date from 1300 AD. However, “Montaña Vieja”, as its translation indicates, comes from the Quechua native language, an autochthonous language still very present in some communities of the south of the country, where this city is known as Machu Picchu. This citadel still contains the remains of the ancient settlement formed by this town part of the Inca civilization, located east of the depression formed by the mountain systems Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu with the Central Andes in the south of the country. This geographical location on the eastern slope of the Vilcanota mountain range only 80 kilometers from the city of Cuzco, still has many of the remains and stone ruins built on all the slopes of these mountain systems, presenting the different historical periods of the Inca civilization that left its traces and history in the citadel of Machu Picchu.

The construction of the citadel of Machu Picchu is attributed to the great emperor, as well as great Inca statesman, Pachacutec who, during his empire from 1438 to 1471 AD, planned the design of this citadel to tackle the population’s population growth problem. as the exploitation of lands. This demographic situation forced Pachacútec to send a series of exploration teams to secure the subsequent settlements. After the victory in the battle against the Chanca civilization waged in Machu Picchu, the empire of Pachacútec began its expansion, reaching its maximum culmination with the creation of the great city of Cuzco.

Everything indicates that the main reason was both demographic and intellectual expansion, because Pachacútec was well known as a spiritual leader and an excellent leader. The final use of the citadel was strictly reserved for the high Inca nobility and because it was strategically designed to take advantage of its location to the fullest, the citadel knew how to accommodate more than three generations while avoiding access to anyone who does not belonged to the Inca nobility, because there was only a single entrance that was used in their favor to improve the protection measures of the city. The settlement is located between deep valleys surrounded by kilometers of dense jungle, so it could be easily defended in case of attack, but it was also used to prevent the access of lower classes of plebeians. The fact of such a high level of restriction to their access could cause the isolation and the disappearance, after the abandonment of the city, of this important legacy of the Inca civilization.

The Tahuantinsuyo empire is the only one that possesses these colossal architectural wonders that include the world-famous citadels of Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo. Pachacútec chose the exact location of these settlements based on the development of agricultural production and the extraction of mineral deposits because these valleys provide a series of excellent weather conditions for agronomic exploitation as well as a high soil richness suitable for both agronomy as for the extraction in deposits of mineral deposits. The great fertility of the land and the more than excellent environmental conditions with a suitable climate for agricultural production were not the only motivations of Pachacútec for the expansion of the Empire to these unexplored territories where, from its ruins, you can understand a large number of buildings that formed the infrastructure of an entire city: quarries, fields for both cultivation and livestock, urban and religious centers and a communication network consisting of innumerable paths and passages through the mountains; the site of Machu Picchu was designated at the same time with the idea of accommodating the high aristocracy of the Inca Empire, so this citadel presents the works of architecture most prized by the Empire. Another reason for this settlement on the part of the high social class is also centered on the fact that the geographical location of Machu Picchu was extremely important for the religion of civilization, since the system of mountain ranges that shelters Machu Picchu had a great spiritual significance to be considered as the sacred site where the astronomical study of constellations of stars and the sun, stars that represented the deities of the Inca civilization.

The city is completely built in stone and was located at a very high altitude, exactly 2,400 meters above sea level. It was undoubtedly the place of spiritual retreat, rest and meditation center par excellence, explicitly reserved as a place of recreation and sanctuary of the highest spheres of Inca society. But, also, such an impressive urban focus required all the infrastructure of any city, so the slopes of the Vilcanota mountain range included the supply center for the citizens of Machu Picchu, where you can still find an abundant number of plateaus which were designed for agriculture and livestock, as well as hundreds of mining operations.

Although the idea that Machu Picchu has become part of a system of military fortifications has been discarded, it has been recognized on the other hand that Machu Picchu was also designed with the idea of housing a certain number of buildings designed to offer defense measures against possible attacks from other neighboring civilizations with which the Inca Empire maintained several territorial clashes. This unbeatable architectural design could be carried out thanks to the perfect location and final location of the citadel, which took advantage of the unbeatable conditions of camouflage provided by this extreme place surrounded by deep valleys and thick jungle. History confirms that Huayna Pichu was the point of surveillance of the city of Machu Picchu that served him as a watchman before the territorial threats of neighboring civilizations and, later, of the Spanish conquerors. In this way, the city could be prepared to receive the enemy attack, if said enemy were able to find the exact location of the city as well as the access route to it. Therefore, this sanctuary was able to preserve its purpose as a leisure and recreation center as well as a refuge for high society thanks to the fact that it was hidden in the deepest recesses of the Andean jungle.

 

The discovery of the citadel of Machu Picchu

The international community of archaeologists have attributed the discovery of the citadel of Machu Picchu to the American expeditionary and dean of the department of history of Yale University, Hiram Bingham, also recognized as a famous anthropologist, who began his studies of archeology by a mere hobby to the exploration. Thus, on July 24, 1911 was conceived as the day of the archaeological discovery of the citadel of Machu Picchu by Hiram Bingham, although it is still debated whether it has been attributed such honor because the archaeological remains have several inscriptions dating back to of July 14, 1901 where the names engraved on the ruins of these other visitors, whose names are Enrique Palma, Gabino Sánchez and Agustín Lizárraga, are clearly visible.

However, neither the discovery on the part of the expeditionary Hiram Bingham in the year 1911, nor the irrefutable proof that Enrique Palma, Gabino Sánchez and Agustín Lizárraga left record after passing through Machu Picchu in 1901, have been able to demonstrate with certainty that the real discovery of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu has to be granted to the local indigenous population that, through agricultural expansion caused by the exploitation of smallholdings throughout the mountain range system, came to repopulate this geographical area located on the slopes from the Vilcanota mountain range only 80 kilometers from the city of Cuzco.

The chronicles dated from the year 1901 on the stay of Enrique Palma, Gabino Sánchez and Agustín Lizárraga in the citadel of Machu Picchu, narrate the presence of local indigenous population, such as the peasant and indigenous laborer Anacleto Álvarez, who claimed to have worked the lands of the surroundings of the citadel of Machu Picchu for more than 8 years, during which he had been residing in the vicinity of the city while doing agricultural and livestock work in the area. In these stories, the fact that the local indigenous population had been using land for agricultural exploitation for decades and, ironically, did not give much importance to the existence of ruins of past civilizations due to the great abundance of archaeological remains by all the Vilcanota mountain range. The possibility that the area that comprises the city of Machu Picchu was part of the latifundios of Qollapani and Kutija but, due to its mountainous system, the topographical works for the reconnaissance of the land were so inaccurate and were so unfinished. even abandoned, that many of these estates, although they were under the ownership of several landowners, were used as a settlement by the local indigenous population.

It is believed that the northern sector of the city had a high spiritual significance so it was reserved for symbolic buildings where all kinds of sacred rituals were performed while studies were practiced on the different astrological doctrines. Perhaps this location was based on the fact that this sector was located in the north and offered one of the most spectacular views of the landscape, from where you can see both the Huayna Picchu hill and the majestic mountain system in the distance of the horizon.

 

The architecture of Machu Picchu: sectors of the citadel

 The Inca Empire came to perform an extraordinary work of architecture that can still be seen in the ruins of Machu Picchu. The great design and architectural planning of Machu Picchu made possible the fantastic structuring in a series of urban sectors in which the citadel was divided.

Due to the rapid population growth that the empire was experiencing, the city needed to create a series of agricultural complexes as well as cattle ranchers to supply such a vast population. Therefore, the agricultural sector, south of the citadel, was created as an extension of the initial agrarian sector existing internally in the city, which was not an area large enough to supply a growing Inca population. This agrarian sector to the south of Machu Picchu is one of the most fascinating works of architecture because it is formed by an immense number of cultivated fields, organized in turn in terraces of culture, by all the extension of the slopes of the valley. In turn, to allow the transport of agricultural products, a transport network was established consisting of more than 8 roads that allowed communication between the different regions.

The agricultural sector was separated from the main urban sector by the construction of a defensive complex consisting of a wall with a length of more than 400 meters and a moat that runs the entire length of the wall. Initially the pit was created as part of the drainage system of the citadel, although the construction of said wall and pit as well as a fortified main door, has given to understand that the origin was mainly defensive. However, the pit is only part of the geological fault that separates both sectors, which was used for the architectural design of the city.

The interior of the city or urban center was divided in turn into two sectors called Hanan or high sector, and Hurin or low sector, based on the Inca social class of residents of that sector. Both urban sub-sectors are separated from each other by two dividing axes; the main axis consists of a wide plaza built on different levels due to the mountainous slope, while the axis that runs through the complex horizontally from east to west is formed by a main avenue and a series of fountains that supplied the complex with water.

It is believed that the northern sector of the city had a high spiritual significance so it was reserved for symbolic buildings where all kinds of sacred rituals were performed while studies were practiced on the different astrological doctrines. Perhaps this location was based on the fact that this sector was located in the north and offered one of the most spectacular views of the landscape, from where you can see both the Huayna Picchu hill and the majestic mountain system in the distance of the horizon.

 

Sun Temple

The Temple of the Sun is located in the urban sector and can be accessed through a huge gate built with double beams which had a locking mechanism as a measure of protection and security. According to recent anthropological investigations, the exact location of the citadel was chosen to reach the highest possible altitude and thus be able to turn to contemplate the sky more closely. The Inca civilization considered that a position closer to the sun would allow them a better and more suitable location both for their astronomical studies and for their religious rituals.

The location of the most important central building is known as Torreón and coincides exactly with the position with the highest altitude. This is where the center of studies and religious practices was established and where archaeological remains of a gnomonic device for the measurement of solar time were found.

The tower shows an impressive semicircular architectural design, whose flat segment contains the so-called Serpent Gate, while the circular wall shows two windows with a strange trapezoidal shape. The construction was made on a rocky granite rock of the mountain itself, taking advantage of the natural outline of the mountain range; on this rock, an enclosure with 10 meters and a half of wall was raised, by means of irregular blocks of stone polished manually. The door contained all kinds of ornaments and decorations made with encrusted jewels and gold details. Nowadays, the proof of the existence of ornamentation can be seen in the grooves that have remained empty in all the doors and windows of the complex after the looting of the city after its abandonment, although it has also been known that the city had a tragic and disastrous chapter after a great fire in the vicinity.

Under the large rocky massif on which the tower stands, the entrance to a small underground cave was found, which presents an excellent construction work. This underlying chamber is where you can see an extremely delicate work of masonry, because all the walls of the chamber are completely covered with carved stone, so that the theory that it was designed as a crypt to house the mummified corpses of several members of the highest aristocracy of the Inca civilization. In the western part near the temple, a rectangular patio was built where you can see nine cavities that could have been destined as graves due to their similarity to other groupings of common graves.

Through one of the chambers, another building can be accessed which is believed to have been used as a room for the service, since it has a sewer system or drainage system, a room designed as a shed for the local livestock of the area, which was predominantly camelid and, in what looks like an adjacent chamber, you can access a private balcony facing the eastern part of the city.

 

The pyramid of Intihuatana

This incredible pyramidal building is located in the Hanan sector of the urban area. The exact location of the Intihuatana pyramid is located on the slopes of one of the hills that was designed to take a pyramid shape. This was possible after converting the slopes of the hill into leveled embankments forming a structure of terraces and corridors on a polygonal base which takes on the appearance of a pyramid.

Access to this building is through two long staircases located north and south of the building. One of these two staircases is formed by seventy-eight steps, which present an exquisite work of architecture, since the rungs of a good part of the journey are exceptionally carved in only one of the rocky massifs of the hill. This staircase gives way to an open-faced chamber in the shape of a courtyard, whose walls present the same delicate architecture as both stairways.

From this before camera you can reach the top of this building, which is surrounded by buildings that had the greatest value for the citadel due to its spiritual nature and religious significance, very important in the culture of this civilization . The access is made through a huge staircase whose steps are hand-engraved in stone, an excellent construction work because the materials on which the steps have been carved is a huge rocky massif composed of granite. In the center of this chamber you can see one of the most fascinating contraptions that the Inca civilization would have used as a measurement tool for its extensive studies of astronomy. This tool was made in such an extraordinary way that it could have offered an unbeatable technique for the temporary measurement through the methods that were based on the light phenomena, by reading the emissions of lights and shadows coming from the sun, during the different periods summer as are the solstice and the equinox. Said device consists of a quadrangular base thus forming a prismatic body of almost 40 centimeters in height. The southeast-northeast orientation of this prismatic contraption reminds us of its purpose as a solar hour meter because its four vertices represent the cardinal points North, South, East and West, the four directions that make up the system that is used today as Cartesian reference that allows us to interpret the orientation of any point on the globe. Hence, the literary translation of Intihuatana takes us to the concept of Observatory, because the native Quechua language used the term Inti to designate the “solar star”, while Wata means “year”. Intihuatana would therefore be the place designated as the Astronomical Observatory of the city although it also had another function with a more religious meaning, because its location made it the perfect altar for the practice of sacred rituals.

This watch-altar duality is due to the belief in a direct relationship between the Inca deities and astrological phenomena. In fact, the Intihuatana still reveals to us certain constructions and aligned locations that represented the astronomical events, and therefore, the gods of the Inca culture.

 

The Liturgical Sources or the Fountain Staircase

This magnificent construction has received many names throughout history, due to the large number of anthropological studies that have been recognizing and naming the different elements and buildings of the city of Machu Picchu. The “Street of the Fountains”, the “Stairway of the Fountains” or more commonly the “Liturgical Sources” is as it is known this set of water reserve tanks, pumps or “paqchas”, formed by sixteen sources which possessed a high spiritual and sacred meaning because the religious beliefs of the Inca civilization considered the elements of nature as the most important gods dogmatically; hence the great importance of water as one of the most revered deities of the Inca culture and that the city will have many fountains and ponds to worship this deity.

These sources would thus collect the water coming from the innumerable springs located several kilometers inside the mountain system, which channel the water coming from the rain leaks, thus providing one of the most important natural riches of the biosphere and essential for the existence of this civilization.

The water would end in this way in the different channels that go through the inclined terrain and its different terraces. These flat surfaces facilitated the creation of the fountains and some buildings that were destined both for the fundamental use of water as an essential element of nature, as well as for the practice of rituals and religious adoration.

The exact location of the Liturgical Sources was strategically placed, being erected between two of the most important buildings of the city: the buildings of the Temple of the Sun and the Royal Palace. This led to the formation of the “Street of Liturgical Sources” located just between the two buildings.

The set of fountains on the mountainous slope forms what is called the great “Staircase of the Liturgical Sources”, a staircase that contains these sixteen fountains or artificial water ponds, which present a fine work of craftsmanship and masonry when carving on the rock the different channels and sinks that make up this system of water catchment, more commonly known as aqueduct. Likewise, the construction shows a high number of polygonal rock masses whose meaning is believed to be also religious.

The existence of a main source located in front of one of the predominant buildings of the Inca culture known as Wayrana, which makes experts think that this location was used as the spiritual center where the practice of sacred ceremonies and rituals was performed, due to the peculiarity of this type of construction, where only three walls can be found. The Wayrana would therefore have been the spiritual center reserved for the practice of sacred rituals to worship and make offerings to the water god.

Due to the large tourist influx, the water from these springs has been used to supply the tourist and hotel complex located in the area, so that the water has stopped flowing through these channels.

 

The Main Temple of Machu Picchu

Located at the highest point of the city, north of the set of buildings formed around a chamber designated as a courtyard called “Sacred Plaza”, the Templo Mayor Templo Mayor of Machu Picchu is erected in this location for being one of the two buildings with greater spiritual significance for the citadel. This square includes the two most important temples of this city: the Temple of the Three Windows and the Main Temple. The Main Temple maintains an architecture with basically the same similarity in the materials that were used for the construction of both buildings, but nevertheless, the finely carved rock conglomerations of enormous size of the Main Temple present a more polished and linear structure, which is why the anthropological experts are based on the thesis that this was the most important temple of the citadel and it hosted the most important celebrations and sacred rituals of greater spiritual significance for the city.

Experts maintain the theory of a large number of cavities in the walls could have been destined for burials, arriving to locate several sepulchers in quadrangular form. The architecture of the temple is called Wayrana because it has only three of the four usual walls in the constructions of the time. These three walls are built by conglomerates of rectangular blocks of stone with a length of almost 12 meters, a width of about 8 meters and a thickness of almost one meter. In the front of the temple, you can see a small carved rock that could have been the Southern Cross.

Next to the main chamber of the Main Temple of Machu Picchu, you can access an area that could have been used for the priest’s residence because, very close to the last wall, you can find a small structure made of stone that recalls to a small platform, which could have been used as a bed for the priest. For this reason it has been denominated to this small vestry attached to the temple “house of the priest” or “camera of the ornaments”. The complex architecture of the temple, as well as the sacristy house attached to it, presents a fine work with large walls raised with perfect linear blocks of stones but with an unfinished appearance, so the theory that the complex was not reached to build completely. The sacristy, however, presents a finer rigging, perhaps because it was finally built, but still shares the same refined architecture as the other two buildings that reside in the Sacred Plaza.

Due to the passage of time, abandonment and arduous weather conditions, the Main Temple has changed its orientation towards the northeast because the abundant rainfall of the many storms that the area suffers, have come to displace one of the central walls. The experts have studied the area and have considered several possibilities. The theory is maintained that a geological fault crosses the entire area of the mountain range and, in addition, there would be a second fault that would cross the Temple of the Sun. The landslides caused by seismic movements that the area has suffered over time, have The archaeological remains of the place deteriorated very much. However, experts maintain the thesis that the Main Temple worshiped Wiraqocha, the highest invisible Andean god.

 

The Royal Tomb of Machu Picchu

Although this building is not located exactly in the Sacred Plaza, it nevertheless has great importance and is closely linked to the sacred significance that this site possessed for the citadel of Machu Picchu. The Sacred Plaza houses the most important constructions for this civilization, considering from the spiritual and religious point of view, which are the two most important temples of this city: the Temple of the Three Windows and the Main Temple.

The Royal Tomb of Machu Picchu has a character similar to that of the buildings of the Plaza although this mausoleum is located just below it, vertically aligned with the tower of the Temple of the Sun. The tomb shows a structure carved in solid rock that was built to lay the foundations of the tempo and then be able to create the chamber that would house the mausoleum. Several of the expert anthropologists who have studied the different popular histories as well as the different treaties of the time, have confirmed that this mausoleum was built to house the body of the characters belonging to the highest spheres of the aristocracy. Due to this theory and also to the formidable work in the different sizes that are found throughout the chamber, it happened to name this as the Royal Tomb of Machu Picchu, because it housed the body of the highest representative of the nobility, which would be the king himself.

The different engravings carved on all the walls of the Royal Tomb show a sublime work. The engravings extend towards the exterior where, on the right side of the tomb, one can still appreciate the fine works carved in the rock representing all kinds of sacred symbols and even a three-step hemicycle construction that represents the symbol of the Pachamama This symbol was very important for the city and its construction is made in such a way that it diffuses symmetrically with the rock that serves as the base for the Temple of the Sun, leaving both buildings perfectly aligned. This method of building was very characteristic of this civilization, which based its architectural works on the spiritual and religious symbols that the buildings attributed to the city.

The interior architecture of the tomb presents a perfect assembly of carved rocks stacked in perfect symmetry, shaping the different walls of the chamber. The walls of the chamber were built with the purpose of serving as a space for the burial of the different members of the high aristocracy, so it has four niches embedded in the walls as large as the doors. In the highest part of the walls you can see a series of cylinders built in stone that could have served as a support system to support ornamentation for the tomb or the necessary equipment for the tasks of tomb. However, these cylindrical pieces also recall a typical set of sleepers that would hold the foundations of the vault. The stairs of the Royal Tomb present a set of sources connected together that make up a water channel.

 

The Palace of the Princess or Palace of the Ñusta

The complex structure of Inca society defined several social classes that even influenced the aristocratic upper echelons. Hence, not all members of the nobility possessed the same privileges, because these distinctions were granted according to the lineage. The Royal Ayllus therefore represented the blood nobility that would be constituted by the direct descendants of the king and that were denominated as Panacas. This social class comprised the queen or Colla, the married princesses or Pallas, the children of the blood nobility and the Ñustas or princesses not yet espoused.

Machu Picchu has been considered as a sanctuary place for the Inca civilization that, according to the studies of expert anthropologists and historians, could have served to give asylum to the virgin princesses of the empire known as princesses of the sun or Ñustas, after the arrival of the Spanish conquerors . These theories are based on the fact that archaeological excavations have discovered that most of the human remains found in the burial chambers belonged to women.

The Ñusta palace is located in the same architectural complex where the Temple of the Sun is located, so it came to be considered part of the temple and not as a building with its own independent character. However, the experts found a very close relationship between the Ñusta Palace and the Temple of the Sun because the palace was not only a building attached to the Temple of the Sun, but stood out for being a building made through laborious and refined methods of construction, techniques that were reserved only for the most important buildings of the city. The fact of being annexed to the Temple of the Sun has given it many other names with names like Casa de la Ñusta or Claustro de la Ñusta.

The building, clearly, had a very special character for civilization due to the fine work of masonry that can be appreciated simply by observing the entrance that gives way to the camera. The chamber was designed to house the residence of some of the most important members of the aristocracy of the city, so the experts in anthropology, by continuing more thoroughly with their investigations, came to the conclusion that this would undoubtedly have been the place of residence where the priestess was staying, since the priests had a social status within the aristocracy of the very high Inca society. However, the theory that this building would have been designated as the antechamber to host the princesses who would be part of the different rituals and sacrifices of the Inca culture has not been ruled out.

The palace of the Ñusta or Palace of the Princess was built on two floors, built by means of a conglomeration of solid, finely carved rocks to facilitate the settlement of the building and at the same time to show an excellent quality in the construction work. Through a small portico located on the upper level of the palace, you can directly access an antechamber that then communicates with the tower of the Temple of the Sun.

However, it has been deduced over time that this door would have been a window and not a door, due to the similarity with another small quadrilateral window that the palace has, from where you can see the different balconies of Machu Picchu.

 

The Sacred Plaza

The Sacred Plaza has been designated as the political-social center of the urban sector. It is surrounded, or rather, composed of the Main Temple, the Temple of the Three Windows and the Intihuatana (religious symbol represented by an aerolite carved in solid rock), but also seats the House of the Priest and the Temple of the Moon. Surrounded by terraces, these were not intended for cultivation, as you would expect, but were designed to accommodate the large number of attendees present in all the different celebrations and festivities of the city.

On the occasion of these celebrations, the infrastructures of the city present an entire organization where these events are accommodated, through the construction of a series of plazas that would house a large number of tributaries to these rituals and celebrations, some of more important character for the city to be strongly linked to the deities of civilization.

In the citadel of Machu Picchu can be seen two large squares that were intended for the celebration of these ceremonies and rituals, although it should be noted that the most important without doubt was the Sacred Plaza or Main Square of Machu Picchu. Several excavations by the scientific community of anthropology have collected evidence and archaeological remains that have undoubtedly proved that this square was intended to house them different sacred rituals.

The remains of the buildings that can still be seen in its ruins have corroborated that the Inca civilization performed quite often a series of celebrations paying homage to their deities, which were represented by the stars.

The Sacred Plaza was the most important architectural complex for Machu Picchu due to its excellent location, ideal for practicing the different doctrines of culture in an infinity of fields such as astronomy, astrology, topography, geology, mathematics, physics and many other scientific disciplines. However, the practice of all these different scientific doctrines had only one company and all the studies were inspired by the rigorous religious devotion to the different Inca deities. The Sacred Plaza is located in one of the most optimal locations in the valley because experts say that this location was chosen with the purpose of making the most of everything the site offered; its proximity to some of the most important sources of natural resources such as stone quarries, facilitated the creation of both the Sacred Plaza and the buildings that make up this, buildings which had the most polished works of architecture in the city and which could not have been built if the largest quarry in the valley had not been located in the immediate vicinity of the Plaza. Likewise, its high level provided the optimum point for the practice of the different scientific and religious doctrines that this civilization cultivated, so it can be understood that the Sacred Plaza was undoubtedly the astronomical observatory of the city.

 

The Temple of the Three Windows

The Temple of the Three Windows is one of the foundations with the greatest history for the lost sacred city of Machu Picchu. According to popular legends, the city was created to hide the Inca civilization of the Spanish conquerors, so the ideal location for such refuge was undoubtedly where this immense citadel was built.

The stories of the time narrated the difficulty of finding the city of Machu Picchu by strangers outside the hidden accesses in the jungles that led to the citadel. However, the discoveries made by the community of experts in anthropology, based on the comments of natives of the area (who have described in detail both the city and its surroundings), showed that the location of Machu Picchu was well known much earlier that his discovery on July 24, 1911, was attributed to the American expeditionary and dean of the department of history of Yale University, Hiram Bingham, who began his studies in archeology for a mere hobby of exploration. Bingham, due to an error of coordinates, believed to find the Tamputoco or Hill of the Three Windows, sacred place that represents the origin of the Inca civilization.

The area had already been discovered by the various owners and tenants of the numerous smallholdings that cover the area of Machu Picchu, on the slopes of the Vilcanota mountain range only 80 kilometers from the city of Cuzco;

and there is even mention of the existence of this city in the mountains, which was already visited prior to its later discovery. The Temple of the Three Windows still preserves the names engraved in stone of the tenant Agustín Lizárraga and three of his companions Gabino Sánchez, Enrique Palma and Justo Ochoa, engravings that were made on July 14, 1902. Therefore, there is no doubt that the Temple of the Three Windows has contributed to knowing the history of this city enormously.

Apart from the importance of the temple for history, this building is among the most important of Machu Picchu for its close location to one of the points with the greatest spiritual value for civilization, the Main Square, which are located 8 meters away , placing the temple in the eastern part of the square. The temple is located in the lower part of the Urin residential sector.

Formed by only three walls on a rectangular base and covered by a roof made of adobe, the walls were built from large blocks of solid rock carved in polygonal shape that formed a conglomerate of stones perfectly coupled to each other, leaving space for, originally five windows, although today there are only three of them that indicated the exact location of the sunrise. The ceiling is supported by a stone column and the temple houses a stone carved with engravings representing the three levels in which the Inca civilization divided the Andean world: the sky or spirituality (Hanan-Pacha), the earthly surface or the mundane (Kay-Pacha) and the subsoil or inner life (Ukju-Pacha).

 

The Sacred Rock

The meaning of such an important piece for the Inca civilization resides in the very location of the citadel of Machu Picchu. The location of this wonderful city is located east of the depression formed by the mountain systems of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu with the Central Andes in the south of the country, on the eastern slope of the Vilcanota mountain range only 80 kilometers from the city of Cuzco The urban area of Machu Picchu known as Urin houses the most important buildings for the Inca civilization such as the Temple of the Three Windows, the architectural group of the Sacred Rock and the grouping of gardens and courtyards known as Acllawasi.

The experts have shuffled several theories about the meaning of the Sacred Rock and one of them has based its hypothesis of the sight that can be appreciated of the Pumasillo Hill, located in the later face of the valley, sight that owns certain similarity with the form in the that the Sacred Rock was carved; therefore, this theory affirms that the Sacred Rock represents Cerro Pumasillo and its usefulness could well have been oriented to the astrological study, which apparently was performed by the practice of sacred rituals. From here also it is possible to emphasize the importance of the area where is the Sacred Rock, area which represented one of the zones of the most significant city for the civilization by its function like the center to receive the rituals and the most important sacred ceremonies for the citadel.

The Sacred Rock also seems to have a geographical purpose according to the studies done on the area, because the location of the Sacred Rock coincides exactly with the northern part of the city, a site which also locates the portal that opens the way to the interior of the mountain Huayna Picchu to become a narrow path that goes into the mountain. The road also offers a fork in the urban area where the main square of the citadel is located. For both reasons, the experts have strongly supported the idea that the Sacred Rock represents a geographical landmark that marked the signpost of the Machu Picchu portal towards the Huayna Picchu.

This monolith has amazing dimensions reaching a height of 3 meters and is located in an area formed by a rectangular perimeter with two adjacent chambers called “huayranas” which present the peculiarity of having only three pyramid walls. The Sacred Rock sits on a base 7 meters wide, adopting a shape that reminds us of the profile of a feline animal on a solid rock podium that was carved by construction tools called Ollantaytambo (Cantonated rock stones) . The expert community of anthropology has interpreted this base as a feline animal as the representation of the sacred puma of Cerro Pumasillo del Machu Picchu, and hence its theory that both the Sacred Rock and the other constructions of the Main Plaza represent the geographic location of the various geophysical elements of the Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountain systems.

 

The Temple of the Condor

The extraordinary beauty that resides in the Machu Picchu can be appreciated both in its archaeological ruins throughout the valley as well as in its marvelous surroundings that offer the incomparable flora and fauna of this valley of the Andes located in the mountain systems of Machu Picchu and of the Huayna Picchu. From any location of Machu Picchu you can contemplate the impressive aerial show that offers one of the native wonders of these places, the condor, sacred symbol for the Inca civilization which granted him the status of king of the Andes.

In the sector east of the citadel are the most important buildings for the Inca civilization, buildings which are all oriented to the Sun to facilitate measurements of the stars, sector where the Temple of the Condor is, as well as the Temple of the Sun. , the Temple of the Three Windows, the Sacred Rock and the residential complex of gardens and courtyards that served as a monastery for the Virgins of the Sun known as Aqllawasi. South of the Temple of the Condor, is the residential area of the Inca high social class, which communicates with it through a series of patios, which show signs of having been used for the breeding of guinea pigs.

The Temple of the Condor has its location in the south east part of the urban sector of the citadel, which has a peculiarity in its architecture to show a series of irregularities in the architecture of different buildings whose purpose was to merge with the environment, producing a fusion with the profile offered by the surrounding rocks. Many theories of expert anthropologists believe to have explained the location of the Temple of the Condor after the discovery of the rock mass that presents the form of a bird with outstretched wings, a fact that gave to understand to the Inca civilization that this was the settlement designated by its deities for the cult and celebration of sacred rituals, because the reflection of this rock, when illuminated by the sun, projects the figure of a bird.

But in addition to the bird-shaped rock with outstretched wings, studies conducted in the area discovered another representation in stone that resembles the figure of this animal; in this case, this rocky massif was delicately carved to create the bust of the bird, which has come to be considered representing the condor, so that the Inca civilization could complete the representation of this idol to make their offerings in rituals sacred concerning the condor. For the Inca civilization, the figure of the condor was the divine representation of both production and fertility since the narrations of the time narrate that when the condor, moving its wings, groups the clouds that would produce rain that would fertilize the lands.

In the underground part of the temple you can locate the dungeons of Machu Picchu. These dungeons were designated for the imprisonment of prisoners with the peculiarity that they were locked together with wild animals as a method of torture.

 

The Main Square of Machu Picchu

For the Inca civilization, and especially for the course of the life of the city of Machu Picchu, the congregation of its inhabitants in the numerous events, mostly rituals and sacred celebrations as a cult to the Inca divinities, had a very important and transcendental meaning for the Inca society. All these celebrations would take place in centers planned to house the hundreds of citizens who saw the worship of their deities. Also, this civilization granted a special to the organization and structure of both the social class, and the city itself, so that anthropological experts have demonstrated the existence of a direct relationship between the Main Plaza and the structuring of the Inca society. .

Among the various sites which have formed the division of the citadel of Machu Picchu in its different urban sectors and, consequently in its different social classes, the Central or Main Plaza of Machu Picchu counts as one of the most important for hosting the most Transcendental sacred celebrations of the Inca religion, because its enormous dimensions present the ideal location to host this type of multitudinous religious and social ceremonies. The square shows us how the Inca society followed a strict, but at the same time, well structured organization of the city in its different social classes, because this vast space was created to establish the spaces of the city limited to the inhabitants depending on their status quo within the Inca society.

After several studies by the experts of the world anthropology community, it has come to be understood how the Main Plaza played a very important role in the Inca society. This explains the existence of a physical axis that distinguished the various Inca social classes, which were separated from each other not only by the different privileges of each social class, but also by the existence of the urban subsectors that welcomed the different individuals of society. In its two most important sectors. The Main Plaza realizes this socio-structural division of the urban section of the city of Machu Picchu differentiating the two sub urban sectors called Hanan or high sector, which houses buildings with greater religious significance for the city, and Hurin or low sector.

The surroundings of the Central Plaza of Machu Picchu are surrounded by a rocky structure that accommodates a series of terraces from where you can appreciate an excellent view of Huayna Picchu. This is where the construction of the Three Covers is located, which gives way to the Central or Main Square, complex of typical buildings of the Inca civilization called “kanchas”, which all have a symmetrical distribution in their facades and are in turn communicated with each other, which favored the life of the society of the city by offering a space that housed both spaces for residential purposes and for work purposes through different sites and premises.

 

The Funerary Rock

The Inca civilization, as one of the most advanced cities, as well as its iron beliefs, are present in each and every one of the corners of the citadel of Machu Picchu. The worship of the different deities, the worship of the gods by means of sacred rituals, the representation of the different moments of the city in their carvings and images throughout the city, show how Machu Picchu was a sacred site for the Inca civilization, civilization the which saw itself closer to its gods from this sanctuary in the Andes.

Because of this character of sanctuary, Machu Picchu was exclusively built to accommodate the highest classes of the aristocracy within the social hierarchy of the Andean civilization, fact which has been able to explain the continuous celebrations that took place in the citadel with motives both of a religious nature and of a civic or social nature: sacred rituals to increase fertility, prayers to implore the different meteorological phenomena, celebrations for the arrivals of the summer seasons, as well as ceremonies and congregations of the citizens and sacrifices to the different deities Incas

The fact that the Inca civilization exercised the practice of a multitude of doctrines, some of them as important as meteorology, astrology, architecture or even medicine, has been able to be understood thanks to its different constructions, symbols and buildings, all of them always closely related to one of these already mentioned disciplines. The Funerary Rock is one of these symbols so important for this civilization that represents what today is known as the practice of forensic medicine because this civilization practiced the practice of mummification of corpses.

The Funerary Rock, located in the agrarian sector of the city, took its name from the different hypotheses of the expert anthropology community after the multiple discoveries of pits with human remains. The rock has a symbolic character that led to the entrance of the necropolis of the citadel of Machu Picchu. Its proximity to this cemetery gave it the character of an idol, so that the area where it was located could have come to host the celebration of a large number of funeral ceremonies and religious offerings in the city.

The Funerary Rock represents the sanctuary chapel of the city of Machu Picchu. The archaeological findings have been able to explain that the design of the Funerary Rock was made to serve as a chapel because it presents the common elements of this type of buildings. You can see a series of steps that form a small step as well as the existence of a granary reminiscent of the design of a ring.

Due to its funerary character, this construction was designed to accommodate the process of mummification through the procedure of drying embalmed corpses. However, other theories have wanted to explain that the Funeral Rock also had a close relationship with the study of the stars and more particularly of the sun because the light of it affected it during the winter time of the year, a phenomenon that could have formed part of the religious beliefs of this civilization.

 

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