Unbelievable… Imagine standing on a pinnacle, 7,000 feet up, gazing down in awe on the most famous Inca ruins, totally surrounded by the majestic ‘Andes’ Mountains.
Yes, we’re at the magical ‘Machu Picchu’, the heart of the Inca Empire. A living testament of man’s harmonious interaction with his natural environment.
The mind boggles. Why is such a structure perched in such steep terrain? What was it’s purpose? And, how did they do it!
At the height of its supremacy and power, Machu Picchu was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire. Its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally into the continuous rock escarpments. The eastern slopes of the Andes encompass the natural beauty of the upper Amazon basin with its rich and diverse flora and fauna.
Machu Picchu, in quechua means “Old Mountain”. The area itself covers 32,500 hectares in some of the most scenic and attractive mountainous territory of the Peruvian Andes. As the last stronghold of the powerful Incas, it’s one of the most important cultural sites in Latin America. In 1983 Unesco designated Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site, describing it as “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization”
The natural beauty and accuracy of the stonework is breathtaking. It’s one of the world’s great examples of the use of a natural raw material to provide outstanding design and building that is totally appropriate to the surroundings. As we stroll through the many temples, altars, terraces, fountains and chambers, all displaying intricate stonework, we get a clearer picture of what the Inca world must have been like.
The Incan built structures have been called the “Lost Cities”, as they were unknown until their discovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Archaeologists estimate that approximately 1200 people could have lived in the area, though many theorize that it was most likely a retreat for Royal Incan rulers. Due to it’s isolation from the rest of Peru, living in the area full time would have required travelling great distances just to reach the nearest village.
The structures are separated into three areas – agricultural, urban, and religious – and are arranged so that the function of the buildings matches the form of their surroundings a kind of Feng Shui if you like. The agricultural terracing and aqueducts take advantage of the natural slopes; the lower areas contain buildings occupied by farmers and teachers, and the most important religious areas are located at the crest of the hill, overlooking the lush Urubamba Valley thousands of feet below.
Climbing our way to Machu Picchu was unforgettable. The early morning approach to the Sun Gate, and glancing out through the mist from the Funerary Rock Hut over all the temples, fields, terraces, and baths seemed to take us back in time to Incan times…
An awe inspiring place that we will return to again and again, a must see when in Peru. Machu Picchu is amazing; it pulls people in like a magnet.
By train: You can get by train directly by the San Pedro station (Cusco) traveling to the Aguas Calientes station. Time of the trip is 3 to 4 hours (112 Km), then you have to take the bus to go to this most mystical, magical place.
By foot – INCA TRAIL: The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is rated among the ten best trekking trails in the world because of its striking beauty, ancient Inca ruins and diverse contrast in climate/ecological zones. This route has very diverse terrains, from high desert plateau to tropical Andean rainforest and takes 4 days.
It’s well worth the effort.
Gallery Machu Picchu
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