MACHU    PICCHU

The lost City of The Incas

 

Hanging from the clouds, the citadel of Machu Picchu unknown to the Spanish conquerors of the Incas- remained hidden from the outside world until discovered by explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911.

 

Excavations supported by the National Geographic Society and Yale University drew back the green veil of jungle to reveal the most spectacular remnant of the Incas vast empire ever found intact.  Scores of sparkling granite shrines, fountains lodgings, and steep stairways encrust the saddle between pinnacles some 2,000 feet above the Amazon-bound Urubamba River in Peru.

  Here the "Sons of the Sun," as the Inca lords called themselves, worshiped their host of gods, including the mighty

 Inti, who personified the sun itself.  A sacred rock is called the "hitching post of the sun," reflecting a tradition that worshipers once tethered the god to it, lesthe stray too far from their domain.

   Bingham speculated that a remnant of Inca nobility took refuge here after the Spaniards dismembered their realm in the 1500's.  Later investigators concluded that it was a military garrison.   In any case, sustaining the mountaintop aerie without an empire apparently proved impossible.  Its occupants eventually melted away into the jungle, which concealed Machu Picchu from outsiders' eyes for nearly four centuries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Its spectacular setting on a high precipice between steep mountain peaks has made it one the most famous archaeological monuments in the world.

 

     Machu Picchu, situated about 111 Km (69 mi) northwest of Cuzco, Peru , is an ancient Inca town overlooking the Urubamba Valley. The City, built atop a mountain in the Peruvian Andes, had been forgotten for more than three centuries, when it was discovered by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911. Known to the Incas as Vilcapampa, the once-fortified city, was never found by the Spanish .

 

 

The ruins are located about 2400m. above the sea level on the eastern slopes of the Andes, near the edge of the warm humid Montaņa region . The abandoned site was covered with dense vegetation and remained essentially unknown until its discovery in 1911.

 

 

Machu Picchu is best known for its architecture, which combines fine stone buildings with extensive agriculture terraces, creating the appearance of a settlement literally carved out of the mountainsides. The style of its buildings and pottery as well as its careful planning suggest that the town was built under the supervision of the Inca State, which was centered at Cuzco. Perhaps the most famous feature of the site is a carved natural stone, known as "Intihuatana", enclosed by curved walls of dressed stone with trapezoidal windows. The stone and its complex of surrounding walls are probably related to the sun religion of the Inca as well as to their veneration of certain natural stones.

 

 

 

 

 

"Intihuatana"  Looking in every direction from the large, carved Intihuatana stone ( The Solar clock )  in the midst of the ruins, one sees mountains that connect with vital forces on earth and in the sky: The highest summit of the sacred Pumasillo Range (20,591 ft ) coincides with the place of the setting sun at the December solstice. This was a particularly important astronomical event for the worshiping Inca, who performed major ceremonies at that time ( the onset of the rainy season ) for rain and fertility. The summit of San Miguel mountain, at the equinox setting point, has a ceremonial platform containing a sacred rock set upright in its center.  The sun rises at both equinoxes from behind the sacred mountain Veronica ( 18891 ft ).  Huayna Picchu (2,800 m. ),  the hill that dominates Machu Picchu, has rock carvings that indicate it too had religious significance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The location of Machu Picchu allows for a combination of sacred geography and astronomical alignments that is perhaps unequaled in the Andes. For years the first reaction of visitors to this overhelming site has been, " Why here ? " But  a careful study demostrates that the setting was suffused with significance, drawn from the juxtaposition of powerful mountains and constellations, giving Machu Picchu special ceremonial power. For example, at its highest point during the rainy season, the Southern Cross is exactly above Salcantay (20,574 ft ) . The Southern Cross and constellations near it are all linked with concepts of rain and fertility, of utmost importance to the Inca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bingham speculated that a remnant of Inca nobility took refuge here after the Spaniards dismembered their realm in the 1500's.  Later investigators concluded that it was a military garrison.   In any case, sustaining the mountaintop aerie without an empire apparently proved impossible.  Its occupants eventually melted away into the jungle, which concealed Machu Picchu from outsiders' eyes for nearly four centuries.

 

 

 

 

    Machu Picchu's setting combines sacred mountains, water flow, and celestial phenomena, especially sun passage, with an economically and politically strategic position between Cuzco and forested lowlands. Whatever other roles it played, Machu Picchu was certainly a sacred geographic center.

 

 

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chuquihuara@hotmail.com

 

IINCA EMPIRE

CONQUEST OF  PARADISE

THE  PRIZE

CUZCO

MACHUPICCHU

TRUJILLO

DISCOVERING   SIPAN

PUNO

LAKE TITICACA

IQUITOS

THE  AMAZON RIVER

PERUVIAN FACTS

WHAT'S A POOR COUNTRY TO DO?

MACHUPICCHU SYMPHONY

Chris