Peru - Machu Picchu

August 2006


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Machu Picchu's strategic location is evident in this classic view with sugarloaf shaped Wayna Picchu mountain keeping a watch on the sacred city.

Mountains around Machu Picchu form two semi-circles, interrupted by the sacred Rio Vilcanota. A representation of this is carved in the Intihuatana.

The Incas constructed ceremonial platforms on the mountaintops of each of the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu.

The main gate at Machu Picchu controlled access to the most important religious sites of the city.

This stone, called an Intihuatana or hitching post of the sun, was damaged during the filming of a Cusqueña beer commercial!

In front of the Temple of Three Windows sits a stone carved as half a Chikana whose shadow creates the complete Inca star.

The area of Machu Picchu known as the royal enclosures near the Torreon was a "gated community".

Within the royal enclosures is a building originally called a jail but is more likely to be for Inca mummies who were brought out during festivals.

The area east of the main plaza has been called the Industrial Sector or Mortar District but still contains important temples and residences.

Condors are believed to carry the spirits of the dead to the afterworld; this temple was built into outcroppings reminiscent of the giant wingspan.

Below the Torreon (or sun temple of Machu Picchu) is an amazing structure originally dubbed the Princess Grave, though no remains were found here.

The far eastern edge of the city is connected by steep stairs connecting terraces where many graves were found. Archeologists are still excavating.

On the pyramidal observation tower, an Andean Caracara (raptor) proudly surveys the available prey (perhaps a tiny tourist or two?).

Llamas still reside at Machu Picchu and keep the grass neatly trimmed.

The second morning of our visit to Machu Picchu the weather was much improved and our views new and exciting.

Imperial Inca stonework abounds at Machu Picchu. Note here that the stone on the lower left is carved to match the corner with the stone above.

The stones, outcroppings and hillsides of Machu Picchu are continuously shifting. This expansion gauge helps preservationists to measure this.

Labyrinths of residences inside compounds characterise the Three Doorways and Mortar Districts.

Homes and temples of Machu Picchu were built into and incorporated natural rock formations.

At Machu Picchu a few buildings have been restored to demonstrate how straw roofs were lashed to stone protuberances seen throughout the city.

Steep terracing high above the valley characterises the south agricultural zone.

We weren't sure if this llama was happy with our curiosity or whether he was just about to spit at us.

Climbing Wayna Picchu (young mountain) is not difficult but it does require care as handholds are few.

The Guardhouse on Wayna Picchu commands an uninterrupted view of the city and its approaches.

The Guard House also commands a view of the Urubamba Valley below.

Terraces on Wayna Picchu are so narrow it is assumed they were designed for erosion control and not cultivation.