Machu Picchu: Lost City of the Incas

“Suddenly I found myself confronted with the walls of ruined houses built of the finest quality of Inca stone work. It was hard to see them for they were partly covered with trees and moss, the growth of centuries, but in the dense shadow, hiding in bamboo thickets and tangled vines, appeared here and there walls of white granite ashlars carefully cut and exquisitely fitted together. . . .  Dimly I began to realize that this wall and its adjoining semicircular temple over the cave were as fine as the finest stonework in the world. It fairly took my breath away. What could this place be?”

My group as we arrived at Machu Picchu.

Spanish conquistadors never found this “Lost City of the Incas”, leaving it for Hiram Bingham to “discover” in 1911, 400 years after it was abandoned. After all these years, it was covered with heavy vegetation, and needed much reconstruction. Some of the buildings are original, but much has been restored to give tourists a good idea of what this amazing city looked like in the time of the Incas. We call it Machu Picchu because that is the name of the mountain beside it, but the name of the actual city is unknown.

The city is divided into two main sectors: agricultural and urban. Agricultural can be identified anywhere there are terraces (and there are many of them!). The urban is the rest, with all the buildings. The urban part has further divisions, one of which is the sacred/religious sector (our guide identified this a its own third sector). You can see this sacred part on the left side of the above picture. Terraces can be seen at the bottom right of the picture.

Temple of the Sun with agricultural terraces in the background.
The Temple of the Sun was the most sacred temple at Machu Picchu. The sun was a great deity for the Incas. The windows were placed such that the winter solstice could be identified by the way the sun shone through the window and onto the ceremonial stone. Notice the construction of the windows – larger at the bottom, smaller at the top. 

Sun Temple

One website ( says: At the top, surrounded by elite buildings, is the Intihuatana stone, whose name means where the sun is tied. This is a ceremonial place that can be translated as Inti = sun and wata = year. It was a place dedicated to the study of the sun’s movements throughout the year, and where solstices and equinoxes were determined. Numerous studies demonstrate that the intihuatanas were used as reference points to determine the magnetic North. At any rate, it was a ritual place of great religious importance.

We thought this would be a good place to sacrifice Kerri with a hiking pole.

Sacrificing Kerri.

Agricultural Terraces
These Incas were smart people, creating a city that has survived being covered with dense rainforest for 4 centuries. The foundation and construction of the terraces and buildings allowed for proper drainage and sturdy buildings. The terraces have several layers – rock, soils (I don’t remember exactly) – that protect them and have allowed them to last so long.

Notice the careful vs. the not-so-careful
lining up of stones.
The sacred rooms were constructed with more care. You can see, in the above picture, where the religious room ends and a “normal” room begins. The below picture shows Kerri standing in a sacred doorway. These were distinguished from normal doorways because they had two levels (for lack of a better word) – the outer and inner.

Kerri in a sacred doorway
View from the top of the city.
After some more exploring and learning, Kerri, Pat, and I ventured up, up, and up some more (as if we hadn’t hiked enough already) in search of the Inca Bridge. We walked somewhere in the greenery of the picture below.

Some nice views on the way:

A good 15 minutes later, and we’re at the Inca Bridge:

It’s a pretty steep drop down:

I needed a picture of myself standing “super close”  to the edge:

After 4 days of hiking, we finally arrived at, learned about, and explored our final destination: Machu Picchu city. There’s only so much one can see, learn, and do before it’s time to take a break and relax. So that’s what we did. A bus took us to the nearby town of Aguascalientes, where we explored the town, had some yummy lunch, and relaxed in the hot springs.

One thought on “Machu Picchu: Lost City of the Incas

  1. Pingback: Liebster Award | Waterblogged

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