“Lost city”, “the last refuge of an ancient civilization”, “city in the clouds” – as soon as they do not call Machu Picchu, the ancient city of the Incas in Peru.Relatively well preserved after the destruction of the Spanish colonialists, it has become one of the centers of world tourism and an inexhaustible source of interest for scientists from all over the world. Located at an altitude of almost 2,500 meters above sea level, Machu Picchu is in no hurry to reveal its secrets, and therefore is especially attractive for travelers.
Machu Picchu – history of discovery
Machu Picchu was founded in the middle of the 15th century on the top of a cliff, at the foot of which the Urubamba River flows. The city, the river and the valley stretching along it were sacred to the Incas, but contemporaries were able to learn about this only in the XX century.
In 1911, H. Bingham, a historian from Yale University , went on an expedition to the Andes. It is interesting that he was looking for another ancient city of the Incas – Vilcabambu, and found Machu Picchu by a happy coincidence.
Staying overnight with one of the Indian families, he got into a conversation with a local boy. For a symbolic reward of 1 sol, he not only told him about the ruins of the old city, but also escorted him to the right place. Seeing the ancient ruins, Bingham immediately realized that he had made a great discovery. From that moment, numerous expeditions began to the ancient city of the Incas, where scientists from all over the world carried out work.
Interesting fact! Officially H. Bingham is considered the “discoverer” of Machu Picchu, but other people had been there before him. Confirmation, for example, is a text left on the ruins, dated 1902 and signed by Augustine Lizarraga.
Features of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu has been abandoned for over 400 years. Of course, the winds and rains “battered” it a little, but did not completely destroy it. Contemporaries have something to be surprised at in the lost city of the Incas.
City planning and architecture
There are about 200 structures in the ancient city . These are temples, outbuildings, residential buildings, the space between which is cut by more than a hundred stairs. To their surprise, scientists discovered in Machu Picchu an irrigation system quite developed for its time with many canals and hundreds of small terraces for growing cultivated plants.
Archaeologists divide the city into 3 large areas:
- Sacred – various temples are located here.
- Popular – a residential area for the lower class of the population.
- District of Priests and Aristocracy – the residences of the wealthy population and the so-called “wise people” are located here.
Religious Center Machu Picchu – Sacred Square . It is from there that you can climb to the top of the cliff, where the Intihuatana stone stands. Scientists suggest that this place served as a solar observatory for the Incas.
Interesting fact! The Incas showed miracles of architectural thought, so there is practically not a single unused meter left in the city. All buildings and engineering systems are precisely and organically inscribed in the complex relief of the rock.
The main feature of most of the buildings in the ancient city of Machu Picchu is the absence of any binding composition between the stones . They are so well hewn and fitted to each other that it is impossible to insert a knife blade between them. This construction technology (polygonal masonry) made buildings earthquake-resistant, which is especially important for Peru.
There are also houses with a cement layer in Machu Picchu, but these are poorer dwellings and less resistant to earthquakes.
The main temples of the ancient city of the Incas
There are many religious buildings in Machu Picchu. They are well preserved, as they used the best stones and the perfect construction technology at that time.
Sun Temple . One of the most magnificent buildings in the city. It has a semicircular shape with several trapezoidal windows. Inside there is a stone block of complex shape, the purpose of which is still debated. It is called both a sacrificial altar and a kind of astronomical device.
Abode of the Sun Virgins . It is an isolated underground chamber located directly under the Intihuatana rock. Presumably there lived girls who served the main deity of the Incas.
Temple of the Three Windows . The windows are trapezoidal, facing east. On either side of them are two blind windows in the form of niches. The purpose of the structure has not been reliably determined. It can be both a place of worship for ancestors, and a symbol of several levels of human consciousness.
Of particular interest is the Condor Temple , named so for its visual resemblance to the bird of the same name. The wings are the ends of the rocks, the head is a large stone of the corresponding shape at the entrance. There is a version that this is a sacrificial stone, since there is a drain on it. Presumably for blood.
Flora and fauna
The ruins of the ancient city are quite picturesque. The entire territory is covered with numerous representatives of flora. The dimensions of some of them are surprising.
In Machu Picchu, tourists are greeted by majestic coral trees, alder, thyroid palm. Also, about 400 species of begonias and orchids grow in the city .
The variety of animals and birds on a small section of the cliff is amazing. These are llamas, white-tailed deer, alpacas, Andean bears, rock cockerel.
Most animals are rather shy, but alpacas often do not mind taking pictures with tourists as a souvenir.
Machu Picchu – tourism center
Stunning landscapes, unsolved mysteries and stunning architecture attract thousands of tourists to the ancient city of Machu Picchu.
Interesting fact! The lost city of the Incas is recognized as a new wonder of the world and is under the protection of UNESCO. In order to preserve the ancient city in 2011, a restriction was imposed on its visit – no more than 800 people a day.
The cities closest to Machu Picchu and convenient for the location of tourists are Aguas Calientes and Cusco. It is from here that most of the tourist routes to the lost city of the Incas begin. Directly at Machu Picchu is the only 5-star hotel with an above average price tag.
To admire the beautiful scenery, it is worth preparing for the difficult climb up the cliff. The most favorable conditions for a trip are in April-October. This is a dry season with fairly comfortable temperatures. During the rainy season (November-March), the weather at the foot of the cliff and at its top varies significantly, the number of cloudy days with precipitation reaches 12-15 days a month.
You can climb not only to the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu, but also to the neighboring mountain – Huayna Picchu . The average cost of a 2-day tour of lost places is $ 500.
Machu Picchu is called the pearl of Peru for a reason. This is a fabulous place that can amaze seasoned travelers and skeptics. Everything is collected in one place – beautiful landscapes, interesting flora and fauna, unusual architecture, secrets of an ancient civilization. The high cost of the trip is more than compensated for by impressions and vivid memories.