A first view of Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail’s Sun Gate (part 2)

Panoramic view of Machu Picchu, Peru, from the Inca Trail, descending into the valley from the Sun Gate

Panoramic view of Machu Picchu, Peru, from the Inca Trail, descending into the valley from the Sun Gate

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.

 

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Ruins of an Inca Temple for pilgrim's offerings, along the Inca Trail as it descends into Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, Peru

Ruins of an Inca Temple for pilgrim’s offerings, along the Inca Trail as it descends into Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, Peru

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).

The three tiered holy stone at the pilgrim's temple along the Inca Trail as it descends into Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, Peru

The three tiered holy stone at the pilgrim’s temple along the Inca Trail as it descends into Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate, Peru

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 Inca Trail offers a magnificent view of Machu Picchu, with Huayna Picchu mountain behind it (notice the hiking steps carved near the top) as you hike down from the Sun Gate, Peru

The Inca Trail offers a magnificent view of Machu Picchu, with Huayna Picchu mountain behind it (notice the hiking steps carved near the top) as you hike down from the Sun Gate, Peru

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.

A close up view of the hiking steps carved near the top of Huayna Picchu mountain, adjacent to Machu Picchu, Peru

A close up view of the hiking steps carved near the top of Huayna Picchu mountain, adjacent to Machu Picchu, Peru

 

From the Inca Trail, a close-up view of Machu Picchu, Peru

From the Inca Trail, a close-up view of Machu Picchu, Peru

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.

The last section of the Inca Trail, arriving at Machu Picchu, Peru, after descending from the Sun Gate (near the crest of the hill, barely visible in the clouds, upper left)

The last section of the Inca Trail, arriving at Machu Picchu, Peru, after descending from the Sun Gate (near the crest of the hill, barely visible in the clouds, upper left)

 

The Upper and Lower Urban Sectors of Machu Picchu, Peru; note that the layout of Machu Picchu is similar to the layout of the Inca capital city, Qosqo (Cuzco)

The Upper and Lower Urban Sectors of Machu Picchu, Peru; note that the layout of Machu Picchu is similar to the layout of the Inca capital city, Qosqo (Cuzco)

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.”

Temple of the Sun in the Upper Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

Temple of the Sun in the Upper Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

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.

Closeup of terraced buildings in the Upper Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

Closeup of terraced buildings in the Upper Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

 

Closeup of terraced buildings in the Lower Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

Closeup of terraced buildings in the Lower Urban Sector of Machu Picchu, Peru

 

6 thoughts on “A first view of Machu Picchu from the Inca Trail’s Sun Gate (part 2)

  1. Rich, Terrific pictures! Thanks. Did you take them?

    I am one of the few Americans to have visited Cuzco but not Machu Picchu. It was 1968 or ’69, and I was visiting Peace Corps Volunteers.

    –Paul

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    • Yes, this is my travel and photography blog, so all photographs are made by me (unless otherwise noted, as in the case of an historical photograph used with credit to the photographer or source).
      Cuzco alone has quite a bit of history, both as the Inca capital city and then a major Peruvian Spanish outpost. It has doubled or tripled in size over the past 30 years since Machu Picchu became the popular tourist destination that it is, with a large part of the local economy now supporting tourism.

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  2. Rich, Machu Picchu is a magical place. Spent a New Years eve at a small rooftop restaurant in Agua Calientes ( maybe 6 tables open air) with 3 Inca Shaman sitting on a sofa behind us. The restaurant owner told us that for $50 we could ride up to Machu Picchu in the van with the 3 shaman for the New Year’s celebration at midnight. Unfortunately, Celeste was sick and getting the shakes. Lost a great opportunity. We are on the road again too. Currently in India for two weeks. A chance to reciprocate for your great blog. Check us out on our WordPress blog at tomandceleste.com. Adios, Happy Holidays to you and Robin. Tom and Celeste

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