Machu Picchu, the jewel of Inca architecture, is one of the wonders of the world. Because it expresses the ability of man to build in harmony with the imposing scenery that surrounds it.
In order to help you get the most out of your visit to the citadel, we have put together a list of our favourite things to do in Machu Picchu. You may not get time to see them all, but hopefully you’ll be able to tick off quite a few!
ANDENES OR TERRACES
Terraces destined to the agricultural production, constructed on the skirts of the hills, slopes and at the edge of precipices. They were built to get different products, as well as to avoid land erosion.
KÁLLANKAS AND THE GREAT KÁLLANKA, OR THE INN OR ENCLOSURE OF THE TEN DOORS
Wide enclosures with eight doors oriented to the Inka Trail. It is said that they had two functions: one that they were lodgings, and the other that they were factories for the production of textiles, ceramic, etc. The Grat Kállanka in Machu Picchu was lodging for the servants of important personages that used to arrive to the citadel. At the moment those that arrive at the Sanctuary through the Inka Trail do it by this sector. Another version indicates that it served as lodging to soldiers and chaskis.
GUARD HOUSE OR WATCHTOWER
Pirka style building with 3 big windows, located in the highest point of Machu Picchu. From here we get a panoramic view of the citadel and two of its accesses: the one of Inti Punku and the Drawbridge. This building was used for controlling the main entrance of the Sanctuary.
Pillar like stones of different sizes and pebbles together with offerings taken by visitors to Machu Picchu. They are brought here from far away places. We can see people trekking the trail and in a species of rite carrying stones or ice blocks towards the Sanctuary or from this to their towns where they deposit them as a symbol of gratefulness, faith and service.
FUNERAL ROCK OR ALTAR
Bingham found a cemetery and to the flank of it, a granite rock similar to a table, finely worked. It is assumed, that it was used for mummifying/embalming bodies; in it’s northern side there is a hoop whose purpose is still discussed, being accepted the one that it could have been to fasten a llama that was going to be sacrified, this rock could have been a altar for the accomplishment of sacrifices and offering that the important personages made when they arrived there.
QOLQAS (STOREHOUSES OR GUARD HOUSES)
The Qolqas; built in a number of seven, used as storehouses to keep products and tools of work. They have ventilation windows. Bingham called them house of the guardians due to each one of them are on different terraces. The smallest one is on the highest part and largest one is in the lowest part.
THE DRY MEAT
Dividing line between the agricultural and urban sectors, it is a geological fault the the Incas took advantage to drain pluvial waters from the terraces.
It is the entrance following the Inca Trail. It is next to the stairway that runs parallel to the Dry Moat. It is possible to appreciate two different styles in its construction. A first on the base with stones of regular size, worked and fitted together with amazing precision, and the second, on the upper part, small and not well worked stones as the first ones. On the top of the lintel there is a stone ring and to the sides of the door we can observe small boxes like litic hinges.
SUPERIOR SET OF ENCLOSURES OR QOLQA FOR OFFERINGS AND K’ALLANKA FOR VISITORS.
The first name corresponds to the name appointed by Bingham; it is a set of buildings considered houses which are joined by corridors. They are two story houses and their doors and windows face to the east. Another version identifies them as Qolqas for Offerings; that is to say, storehouses that served to keep offerings from important visitors or from the retinue that took presents before resting after entering to the Sanctuary. The K’allankas are enclosures near the Main Entrance, resting places for the selected retinues (supported by anthropologist Alfredo Valencia and Ing. Kennet Wright).
THE QUARRY OF MACHU PICCHU
Place where there are a great jumble of rocks, some unfinished. Carlos Kalafatovich V. in his book Compendium of Geology of Machu Picchu states that: “this chaos is the result of the accumulation of old landscape, as they are seen in front of the Main Temple and in the way towards Wayna Picchu. These stone blocks without a doubt had been used by the Inka stonecutters”.
TEMPLE OF THE SUN AND THE WINDOW OF THE SERPENTS
The temple is a beautiful construction built on a huge rock; It has the shape of a tower with a similar semicircular flank seen in the Qoricancha – Cusco for which Bingham called it that way. In its interior there is an altar and window facing north calle Window of the Serpents. It has some holes and a stairway sign on its low part. These orifices had incrustation of precious stones and adornments with several sacred symbols. It is quite similar to the Temple of the Sun in Cusco, “The Qoricancha”.
To the east of the tower thay are two small windows with four protuberances, one in each corner and oriented towards the entrance so they could get solar light at summer and winter solstices respectively. The altar was used solely when the ray of the sun got through the windows settling in their surface, that is to say, only during solstices. Also, in the interior, on the wall, there are finely worked niches and they were used to display liturgical ornaments. In this temple, almost intimate, ceremonies of meditation, purification and spiritual initiation were made.
REAL TOMB OR TOMB OF THE INCA
In this place, vestiges that could really give indications of being a tomb were not found. In some other grottos very similar to this one, they found mummies. There is some suspicion that this construction could have lodged the bodies of some several important personages of Machu Picchu, that after finding out about the spanish invaders, the settlers would have gathered and transferred the ornaments and mummies to other secret places. It is possible that Mr. Bingham took, in 74 boxes, cultural elements that could have given us light about the matter, although in the last editions of his written work (where he corrected, eliminated and in others added data and references), talks about the findings of very special burial remains that suggested him it could have been the tomb of the most important personage in Machu Picchu, reason why it took this name.
This places is underneath the Temple of the Sun. Its interior is designed and constructed carefully with worked stones, one of them keeps the shape of a stairway which symbolically suggests the way to the spirituality, to the Hanan Pacha (Heaven) ; to the inner part there is another lithic stepped piece that represents the Pacha Mama (Mother Earth), according to the Andean cosmology they represent the three worlds: the one of the death, the other of the alive and the third one of the immortal (Gods).