Abandoned by the Incas shortly before the Spanish conquest of the Inca capital city of Qosqo (Cuzco) in 1533, Machu Picchu is one of the few Incan masterworks that did not suffer excessive alterations in the intervening centuries before its “scientific” discovery by Yale University professor Hiram Bingham in 1911.
[A note to our readers: CLICK on any photograph in any blog post and it will be displayed in a larger size; expand the borders of your browser window to enlarge the window and enable the photograph to be displayed at full size.]
This hillside Inca Temple is now believed to have been a way station for pilgrims on the way to Machu Picchu, after their descent from the Sun Gate (see our previous blog post).
Three was a very important number in the Incan culture and in their vision of the cosmos. “Their concept of time was not linear, but rather circular and/or cyclical. Therefore, what was behind served to name the future and vice versa. As much for time, as for space, there were: 1. Kay — the present and here, 2. Qhepa — the future and behind, and 3. Naupa — the past and up ahead. In turn, they divided the universe into three interrelated environments: 1. Hanaq Pacha — the Upper World or place where the Gods have their abode in, 2. Kay Pacha — The World of Here and of the present, where human beings live and which, in turn, could also be the point of union or t’inkuy, between the other two levels., and 3. Ukhu Pacha, the Inner and/or Subterranean World, where the ancestors and the force of fertility dwell.” — Presenting Peru & Machupicchu by Peruvian guide Saydi Maria Negron Romero.
The Peruvians, aware that Machu Picchu is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, in order to help preserve it, now limits the number of daily foreign visitors to 2,500. Access to climbing Huayna Picchu, with its spectacular views of Machu Picchu, is even more restricted — a group of 200 (maximum) departing daily at 7 a.m and another 200 at 10 a.m.
The last section of the Inca Trail entering Machu Picchu is well paved with stones, on a terrace next to a stone retaining wall, affording excellent views of the site.
According to Saydi Maria Negron Romero, “Machupicchu was erected in relation to the Sun and its trajectory through the firmament. Each space built is oriented in order to receive the greatest amount of solar light and heat, during more hours per day, and every day of the year. The city’s distribution goes from East to West and from North to South, as it connects with a sacred landscape, in which snow-capped mountains can be seen in the distance, as well as other nearby ones that coincide with the four cardinal directions.”
The Temple of the Sun had no roof as it was also an astronomical observatory and was used to predict the passing of the Sun through the zenith.