Machu Picchu in Peru is an ancient Inca city and world heritage site on top of a mountain range 2,450m above sea level.
The name “Machu Picchu” comes from the Quechua language and means “old mountain.” The settlement is also often called “the city among the clouds” or “the city in the sky.” Not far from the city is the cliff of Huayna Picchu, which means “young mountain. According to legend, this cliff is a guardian frozen in stone. Indeed, from a certain angle, the outline of Huayna Picchu resembles the profile of an Indian looking up into the sky.
The city consists of several hundred structures and has a clear structure. On the southeast side are palaces, noblemen’s houses, and temples. One of the most unusual buildings is the Temple of the Condor, which got its name because of the stone, the outline of which resembles a bird’s head with a beak. The stone probably served as a sacrificial altar, as the “beak” is bordered with a trough. There is a hypothesis that the condor was an Incan sacred bird, personifying the element of air and freedom. Two small rocks behind the sacrificial stone symbolize the wings.
Where is Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is a world famous Inca city lost in Peru. To get there you must first take a flight to Peru to the capital Lima. Then you will need to make a short hop on a plane to Cuzco. Tourists can then take the train to the settlement of Aguas Calientes from a train station called “Poroy” or another station in the Sacred Valley. This is the settlement closest to the cherished destination. The next step is to buy a bus ticket to Machu Picchu. In terms of cost, this route is the most expensive.
If tourists want to save money, they need to take a bus from Cusco to Urubamba. There you can take another bus to Oyantaytambo. In the evening, the train to Aguas Calientes leaves from this location. The total travel time exceeds 6 hours.
As a result, the trip will be quite tedious. Moreover, from Aguas Calientes, you should take a bus up into the mountains. But it doesn’t take you more than a quarter of an hour to get to the wonderful and mysterious Inca city.
If you’re not used to getting anywhere by train, you can take a direct train to Aguas-Calientes. However, the cost of the ticket may be too high for some.
The sacred city of the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu, is the pride of modern Peru and one of the main attractions of Peru and Latin America. It is also known as the “lost city of the Incas”, because the modern world learned about it only in 1911, thanks to the expedition of the American professor Hiram Bingham.
The ancient architectural complex occupies the territory of more than 30 thousand hectares and is rightfully considered a masterpiece of Indian architecture.
The city is located in a surprisingly picturesque place – among unapproachable cliffs, at an altitude of more than 2000 meters above the Urubamba River valley.
It is still unclear why the Incas created the city in such a hard-to-reach place. Perhaps the reason is that these lands are not only famous for their natural beauty, but they are also considered a mystical place with a powerful positive energy. Perhaps the cliff tops were the best way to make astronomical observations and brought the Indians closer to the Sun, which they worshipped as the supreme deity.
The Great Sacred Square separated the nobility’s area from the commoners’ houses, shops, workshops, and the cemetery, which was in the Burial Rock. In the southern sector of the city were the houses of the peasants with outbuildings and pens for livestock. The Incas built the roofs of their houses with wooden beams connected by vines and covered them with thatch on top.
The main temple of Machu Picchu is located on the west side of the city. Behind it is a hill with artificial terraces and a long staircase that leads to one of the most enigmatic sights in the architectural complex, the Intiwatana Stone, also known as the “stone of the sun.” It is a huge polygonal stone carved from a granite monolith on top of a cliff. The stone is believed to have been used by the priests in the “binding of the sun” ritual, a symbolic act performed annually on the winter solstice.
Purpose of the city
Numerous studies by scientists-historians have never brought them to a consensus on the purpose of the city of Machu Picchu. And now there are several hypotheses which never became an axiom.
According to the first theory, the city was the homeland and the last Inca stronghold during their fight against the conquistadors. But only later it became known that the final resting place of the mysterious ancient people was the city of Espiritu Pampa.
The temple built for the Solar Maidens was the name of Machu Picchu for a long time. Scholars have suggested that it was founded for the women’s religious order, worshipping them. Many years ago, the American George Eaton discovered a huge number of female skeletal remains at the excavations of the city. But the assumption made turned out to be false, and it turned out only in 2000. Then were carried out more detailed study of the bones. It turned out that the female population did not prevail in the city.
Some scientists consider this mysterious city to be the residence of the ruler of the Incas of the 15th century. We are talking about the emperor Pachacuti. The hypothesis arose at the end of the twentieth century because of a Spanish document, but no one has been able to confirm it exactly.
In 1991, the American Reinhard (a famous archaeologist) drew attention to the fact that the city was built on top of a mountain, at the foot of which flows the turbulent Urubamba River. As a result, he concluded that the city in question was of sacred importance to the Incas. Reinhardt suggested that Machu Picchu united Heaven and Earth, was a kind of “sacred beginning” for the ancient people, symbolized eternity, a detail of the mythological landscape. But such thoughts are very long and, according to other anthropologists and archaeologists, have nothing to do with the real purpose of Machu Picchu.
And one more theory from 2009. An Italian astrophysicist expressed his opinion that the city was a common pilgrimage site, and that was its main purpose.
To date, none of the above hypotheses has no real background and no confirmation of the data. Therefore the purpose of the mysterious city of the ancient Incas remains unclear.
Where did the inhabitants go?
It is also not possible to answer this question unequivocally. For too long people have been trying to unravel the mysteries of the beautiful “heavenly” city. It now seems that some thread of reality has been lost forever to numerous researchers and scientists.
Some believe that the inhabitants died of a smallpox epidemic. Others tell of an attack by savage tribes. But this seems improbable, because no traces of their presence have been found. There is also no destruction on the territory of the city.
Another hypothesis is the desecration of the city, after which the inhabitants hastily left it. It is believed that violence was committed against the priestess of the Sun. The Incas believed that they were not allowed to be in the desecrated territory and left in an unknown direction.
Perhaps the onslaught of ruthless Spanish conquerors forced the natives to leave the sacred lands, forever losing their high status. But again we do not know in what direction the Incas went and what became of them after they left Machu Picchu.
Perhaps another mystery, of the mysterious city of the disappeared inhabitants, will remain forever unsolved. But scientists never stop looking for answers.
The disappearance of the Inca gold.
Thousands of expeditions from around the world have been unsuccessfully trying to find the famous Inca gold. It is believed that the conquistadors-conquerors of the ancient people took for the gods and lavished their unearthly treasures. When the last Inca ruler was executed, the Spaniards hid the gold and took some of it out of the city. But the search continues, and the treasure remains undiscovered.
There are several interesting versions, each of which has not been confirmed. Some believe that the bullion was found in Germany by the Nazis in the thirties. Others point to the Vatican, claiming that it was the Catholic Church that seized the treasure.
Others suggest that the gold was somehow inconceivably taken to Poland by the last of the Incas. But all these versions are unreliable, because no one has ever found the amazing treasure. Gold hunters continue to visit the abandoned city of Machu Picchu. Some believe that the bulk of the gold and rests in its lands – and there can be no other. Some scholars even cite historical evidence that the Spaniards took only a small part of the amazing treasures from the Inca territory.
It is only worth noting that the ancient Inca city has not been fully explored. It is possible that it still harbors unprecedented riddles that you want to unravel. Thousands of brave souls come here to find answers to the most tricky historical questions, closely intertwined with the present.
The heyday of the Inca Empire was the second half of the 15th century. In the 15th century AD 30 the city was suddenly deserted. It is known for certain that the city was not among the settlements destroyed during the invasion of the Spanish conquistadors, so it remains a mystery why the holy city deserted.
There are many different hypotheses. Among the possible causes are a smallpox epidemic or the desecration of sacred sites. Most likely, the “city in the sky” lost its significance after the fall of the empire and therefore was abandoned by the inhabitants. Be that as it may, the hope remains with the researchers that one day this mystery will be solved.
Panorama of the city
In 1532, all of its inhabitants mysteriously disappeared. Machu Picchu is a small town – there are no more than 200 structures.