WELCOME MACHU PICCHU, PERU!
It's always nice to meet and greet a new friend as soon as you arrive! Hola, llama!
The Sacred Valley of the Incas, commonly known as the Urubamba Valley, is located in the Andes of Peru and includes the former Inca capital of Cusco (aka Cuzco) and the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. This area of Peru formed the heart of the Inca Empire. Stretching approximately 37 miles, the Urubamba Valley is an area of fertile farmland and Spanish colonial villages including Pisaq (aka Pisac) and Ollantaytambo.
The Inca Empire grew huge in less than 100 years from a small area in south central Peru to a vast region encompassing all of modern day Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and parts of what is now Colombia, Argentina, and Chile. The expansion and development of the Inca into one of the world's great civilizations during such a short time remains one of the mysteries modern science has yet to solve.
The Incas never used the wheel in a practical way, although its use in toys shows that they knew its principle. Its use in engineering may have been impractical due to the lack of strong draft animals, the steep terrain and dense vegetation. How they moved and placed the enormous stones remains uncertain, but the general belief is that they used hundreds of men to push the stones up inclined slopes.
Machu Picchu is an extraordinary stone city along the Inca Trail in Peru and forms one of the most famous historical sites in the world. It is widely believed to have been constructed by the Inca Yupanqui people sometime during the mid-fifteenth century. We will never know for sure exactly who lived up there, but we do know that they were Incas. And we also know that they had retreated in secret to the place called Machu Picchu (which translates to "Old Peak"). We also know that this secret city was never discovered by the Spaniards.
The Inca Empire flourishes in South America.
1438 CE - 1471 CE
Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (aka Pachacutec in Spanish) reigns as the leader of the Inca Empire.
c. 1450 CE
Machu Picchu is founded by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (aka Pachacutec in Spanish)
c. 1510 CE
The Inca abandon the settlement of Machu Picchu.
Pizarro and the Spanish conquistadors arrive in South America.
Machu Picchu is "discovered" on July 24, 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham III
Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.
There are disputes as to whether Bingham was in fact the first to “discover” Machu Picchu as others have claimed to have been there before Bingham including the native Quechua people who led him to the city. However, he is credited with being the official discoverer of Machu Picchu and bringing the city to the attention of the world.
Hailed as one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the world, Machu Picchu was five centuries old when Bingham discovered it. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of what the structures originally looked like. By 1976 thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored with restoration continuing to this day.
Machu Picchu (translated from the indigenous Quechua language means "old peak"). Machu Picchu lies in the southern hemisphere and is approximately 50 miles northwest of the city of Cuzco (aka Cuzco). It sits at the crest of the mountain of its name, Machu Picchu, and the entire site is approximately five square miles in dimension. Machu Picchu's elevation is 7,710 feet which is over 3,300 feet lower than Cuzco and it has a milder climate than the old Inca capital of Cuzco. Having personally experienced a brief, but horrible attack of altitude sickness in Cuzco I can attest to this very,very unpleasant condition. A word of caution: take the time needed to adjust before hitting the Inca highlands. You won't regret it!
he Sun (aka INTIWASI in the Quechua language) was also known as
When the sun of the winter solstice enters through the central window of the Temple of the Sun it falls directly on the large ceremonial stone which seems to be protected by the round structure.
The Temple of the Sun or Intiwasi is shaped like a semi-circle and was built on an existing granite stone. It was shaped to blend with the natural curves of the stone and has a diameter of approximately 35 feet.There is also a cave underneath the Temple of the Sun which formed naturally. And while some believe it was a royal mausoleum, there is no evidence to suggest this is true. However it is likely this cavern was used for some kind of religious reason as there is a stairway carved into a large rock near the entrance.
THE TEMPLE OF THREE WINDOWS
There are many theories as to why this building has three windows most of which come from ancient chronicles written by Spanish conquistadors and prominent natives nobles. Most of these theories seem to contradict each other. Since the Inca did not have a written language we will never know for sure, but I personally love the mystery which adds to Machu Picchu's magic.
THE ROYAL TOMB (AKA THE ROYAL MAUSOLEUM)
The Royal Tomb is located below the Temple of the Sun and is one of the most important tombs in Machu Picchu. Formed by a small natural cave with an opening facing east, the interior of the Royal Tomb is made up of finely carved stones, niches and lithic pegs.* The main feature of the tomb is a large altar with 2 levels and a symbolic stair case carved insitu ** in the natural rock.
** Insitu: situated in the original, natural, or existing place or position. example: the archaeologists were able to date the vase because it was found insitu.
THE STORY REGARDING THE "LOST CITY"
In 1911 Hiram Bingham with his book "Lost City of the Incas"brought to public attention the site of the ruins of the city at the remote forest site then called Espíritu Pampa approximately 81 mile west of Cuzco. Bingham, however, did not realize its significance and believed that Machu Picchu was the fabled "Vilcabamba," the lost city and last refuge of the Incas.
Savoy's discovery disproved Hiram Bingham’s belief that Vilcabamba and Machu Picchu were the same place. Nevertheless, many sources still follow Bingham’s precedent and erroneously label Machu Picchu as the “Lost City of the Incas.”
Here is my suggestion: we could clear up this confusion by simply re-naming Machu Picchu "The Magnificent City (or Citadel) of the Incas" and leave Vilcabamba as the "Lost City of the Incas." What say you?
The mystery and magic of Machu Picchu continues to this day. Many researchers speculate that the Inca Pachacuti (aka Pachacutec)*** built Machu Picchu as monument to his own greatness. Others theorize that Machu Picchu was possibly a summer or royal retreat. Perhaps the city was an agricultural outpost, given the number of terraces, water channels and irrigation canals. Or perhaps an observatory, the summer home of the Inca rulers, or a combination of all? The mystery continues and I love the unknown and magic that is found in Machu Picchu!
***Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, or Pachacutec, or Pachakutiq Inka Yupanki was the ninth Sapa Inca of the Kingdom of Cusco which he transformed into the Inca Empire.
Died: 1471, Cusco, Peru
Successor: Topa Inca Yupanqui
Grandchildren: Huayna Capac
Children: Topa Inca Yupanqui
Parents: Mama Runtucaya, Viracocha Inca
Go to the following link for a wonderful PBS NOVA SPECIAL ON MACHU PICCHU:
Thank you for joining me in our exploration of the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. You may view additional photos in the following album which is as simple as clicking on the album photo. I look forward to hearing from you with your comments, questions, and suggestions. Muchas gracias, Laura
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