"The Lost City of the Incas."
Machu Picchu is the best known of the Inca ruins, as it is recognized worldwide yet it is not mentioned in any of the writings of the Spanish Conquistadors. It is believed to have been constructed around the mid-15th century and was "rediscovered " by American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911. The guided tour of this fascinating place was an awe-inspiring experience. We visited the Main Square, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows, the Circular Towers, the Sacred Sun Dial and Burial Grounds.
The following describes our journey from Cusco to Machu Picchu, and our adventures in The Lost City of the Incas.
"Early in the morning, transfer to the train station to take the train to Machu Picchu and the village of Aguas Calientes. There, a bus waits to take you to the actual site of the "Lost City of the Incas. Your guide will take you throughout the vast ruins during two and a half hours. "
There I am, with our baggage, early in the AM as required, but seemingly alone!
Well, at least now there are a few more lost souls eyeing an already overflowing and totally inadequate luggage thingamajig.
Finally at the rail station and mass confusion! Wonder where our luggage ended up?
Judy poses with one of the other tourists. It seems no one worries about standing on the track, or selling stuff while standing on the track. It could be because the only destination from this station is Machu Picchu and the trains run infrequently!
Success!!! We found our seats and are on our way to Aguas Calientes, the town just below Machu Picchu where we are to stay.
At left we are served a very nice snack and beverage to assuage the tensions of departure by the attractive stewardess.
This is a view through the front window of the bus that travels from Aguas Calientes up to the Machu Picchu site. It is a mostly a one lane gravel road, with no safety railings. If, as in the picture, you meet one of the buses coming down, it becomes a contest of wills that eventually resolves itself when one of the drivers backs up to a wider road section!
A view showing just how rugged (and awe inspiring) the terrain is in the area around the site.
I obtained the following information from Wikipedia, the on-line Encyclopedia:
" It is thought that Machu Picchu was built by the Sapa Inca Pachacuti, starting in about 1440, and was inhabited until the Spanish conquest of Peru in 1532. Archaeological evidence (together with recent work on early colonial documents) shows that Machu Picchu was not a conventional city, but a country retreat town for Inca nobility (similar to the Roman villas). The site has a large palace and temples dedicated to Inca deities around a courtyard, with other buildings for support staff. It is estimated that a maximum of only about 750 people resided in Machu Picchu at any one time, and probably only a small fraction of that number lived in the town during the rainy season and when none of the nobility were visiting. Probably the site was chosen for its unique location and geological features. It is said that the silhouette of the mountain range behind Machu Picchu represents the face of the Inca looking upward towards the sky, with the largest peak, Huayna Picchu (meaning Young Peak), representing his nose. The peak is also known as the 'hitching post of the sun.'"
"All of the construction in Machu Picchu uses the classic Inca architectural style of polished drystone walls of regular shape. The Incas were masters of this technique, called ashlar, in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar. Many junctions are so perfect that not even a knife fits between the stones."
"The Incas never used the wheel in any practical manner. How they moved and placed enormous blocks of stones is a mystery, although the general belief is that they used hundreds of men to push the stones up inclined planes. The Incas did not leave any documentation about that process because they did not employ writing. The space is composed of 140 constructions including temples, sanctuaries, parks and residences. There are more than one hundred flights of stone steps often completely carved in a single block of granite and a great number of water fountains, interconnected by channels and water-drainages perforated in the rock, designed for the original irrigation system. Evidence has been found to suggest that the irrigation system was used to carry water from a holy spring, to each of the houses in turn, the order being dictated by the perceived holiness of the inhabitants. It is suspected that this holy spring was at least a factor in the Inca's decision to build the city in such a remote location and could hint at the city's true purpose."
Again a view at left demonstrating the incredible precision of the Inca builders.
You can't slip a credit card between the stones as they are crafted so perfectly!!!
At right the guide and I rest on a low rock fence behind which is a vertical drop of at least 150 feet!!! Fortunately by this time, my vertigo sensations had evaporated due to consistent overload.
The Intihuatana ("tie the sun" shown below) is believed to have been designed as an astronomic clock by the Incas, while some have speculated about the site's possible astrological role
How is this for a vertical challenge? Gives a new meaning to the expression, "Drop in some time."
At right are two 'bowls' that had the archaeologists stymied for a long time. It turns out that the Incas constructed these for astronomical observation. How? They filled them with water and employed them as mirrors to view the heavenly constellations without the discomfort of having to look up!
Here we have the stylized stone statue representing the head of a Condor. A view from farther back showed the artist's clever use of the original landscape to represent the wings.
The Incas were masters at integrating their construction with natural formations
Unfortunately, it isn't possible to fully represent the Machu Picchu experience on these pages. When you first arrive, there is a moment which defies description as you gaze on this long lost treasure. I was overcome with awe, reverence, and a deep appreciation of its mystique, unique in humankind's history.
Also, as an engineer, I could only marvel at the quality and precision of the Inca construction especially knowing the limitations imposed by their tools. Hmmm, limitations?
While at Machu Picchu we stayed in the town of Aguas Calientes at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. What a fabulous resort to compliment our visit to Machu Picchu! Our charming suite was inviting and spacious as can be seen in the following photos.
The doors led on to a gorgeous, private patio. A nice touch is the fireplace for the cool nights.
All the comforts of home ... and more! The bathroom was huge including a monstrous shower that one could enjoy for hours!!!
Here I am relaxing on our patio. It sure was great to have this comfortable suite to relax in after a long day of ... climbing and climbing and climbing ....
This is one of the main buildings housing the dining room, the bar and the library and reading lounge complete with free Internet access.
Also, bowls of a variety of fruit were placed throughout the building.
A view of the lounge, dining room and outdoor patio with the rushing river in the background.
The hotel hosted conducted tours through the gardens and forests in the surrounding area. At left is a photo Judy took of me on the Orchid Walk. I'm using a magnifying glass to get close up and intimate with a gorgeous red orchid. Do you see my reflection in the lens?
A scene from the adjacent tourist town of Aguas Calientes. A quaint little place in a manufactured sense as can be seen in the numerous fast food restaurants, pizza parlors, and tourist shops.
I'm the one on the right!
And finally, the train back to Cusco. We were entertained on the trip by an enjoyable fashion show hosted by the steward and stewardess and sponsored by a Cusco clothing retailer.
I guess I've just about run out of superlatives, but please accept our comments without reservation. We are not exaggerating! Everyone should have the opportunity to make the trek to Machu Picchu. Its a unique experience never to be forgotten!
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