Machu Picchu is a city of mystery. A city used only for 100 years and then abandoned during the times of the Spanish conquest, yet never discovered by the conquistadores. It was finally “discovered” in 1911 by American explorer Hiram Bingham when a local man led him to the ruin. It is an Incan ruin set at the top of a ridge in the Andes Mountain outside of Cusco, Peru.
People describe Machu Picchu as a religious site, a royal court, and/or a defensive location. Many say that it was created for the Emperor and his 1000 person royal entourage. My guide said that Bingham originally thought it was the lost city that the last Incan Emperor retreated to during the time of Spanish conquest. However, archaeologists now know that the site was most likely the royal court of the Emperor, Pacha Curi.
Any way you look at it, Machu Picchu proves that the Incas had military and religious power in the area. A few things my guide said that were really interesting to me were in regards to food, water, and the stone work in Machu Picchu.
Q: How did the Incas provide people in Machu Picchu with enough food for a year?
A: They created terraces. On those terraces they grew tons of corn and potatoes each year.
Q: Machu Picchu receives about six feet of rain each year. How did the Incas manage all that rain while perched atop the mountain?
A: There are tons of drains in the city to manage the many inches of water that the city gets each year. There are also terraces all along the mountain to prevent the city from slowly sliding down the hill during the heavy rains. There are also 16 fountains in the city fed by a natural spring in the mountain. This is just the right amount of drinking water for the population of Machu Picchu.
Q: Where did all the stones come from and how are they still standing?
A: Our guide said that the stones were cut on site. The city is built with granite blocks cut by hand. The blocks are set so close together that not even a knife’s edge can fit between them. They were shaped so precisely that the walls are still standing without any use of concrete to bind them together. The lack of some type of mortar allows the walls to withstand the many earthquakes, landslides, and torrential rain that the area receives.
I just loved every minute of the 6 hours I spent there! Click on the photos below for a better view.