The Inca Definitely Left Their Mark (Index this page)
- Machu Picchu
- The Sacred Valley of the Inca
- Pisac Ruins
- Puca Pucara
- Moras and Moray
“Machu Picchu has a powerful presence; a sense of mystery that clings to the buildings and makes your hair stand up on your neck as you walk amongst living quarters that seem to have been so recently abandoned”…Michael Pallin, BBC.
See “Michael Pallin in Macchu Picchu,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2YBVlgqqco&feature=relmfu
Many questions remain unanswered about Mach Picchu (Elevation: (7,970 ft/2,430m). Who built this amazing place? Why was it built? Why in such a remote place? How on earth was this accomplished?
Located high above the Urubamba River on a rather isolated mountain top, Machu Picchu’s construction likely dates back to the height of the Inca Empire, circa 1450AD. In 1977 the site was declared as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, now in league with The Great Wall of China and the Egyptian Pyramids.
In 1983 UNESCO describing Machu Picchu as “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization” and designated it a World Heritage Site
The city is build of massive boulders that were hauled across great distances. The
engineering genius of the whole is astounding. The walls are virtually earthquake resistant and the miles and miles of terraces suggest a self-sustaining enclave. The 140 structures consist of temples, sanctuaries, parks, and residences (they once had thatched roofs). Other engineering marvels include hundreds of flights of stone steps (many carved from a single block of granite), water fountains, water drains and irrigation ditches.
To get a glimpse into the Inca world check out Michael Pallin, Travels to the Mountains to Meet the Inca http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB2GTVt4Fdg
A city of contrasts, (elevation: 11,024 ft/3360m. Population: 328,0000), often referred to as the ‘Archaeological Capital of the Americas,’ Cusco is the stepping-off point for our Inca Trail, Machu Picchu adventures, and our other explorations of mind boggling ruins. In Cusco we have the first exposure to the Inca skills at building earthquake resistant, mortar free granite block walls that defy comprehension; even today. It is easy to become seduced by the sights and sounds of the city, its surroundings and colorful history. In 1534 Francisco Pizarro, with his Spanish Conquistadores, added this Andean capital to the treasures of King Charles V of Spain…changing the city, its way of life, and its place in history for ever.
Our arrival in Cusco immediately exposes us to altitude and a noticeable shift in breathing. Clearly, prior to embarking on the Inca Trail we must allow our bodies to adjust to the rarified air. Fortunately Cusco and its surroundings harbor treasures like Plaza de Armas (Square of the Warrior), magnificent churches and breath taking landscapes. Nearby we will explore the Inca Ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Puca Pucara and Tambomachay. Also in close proximity are the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the Indian market at Pisac, and the villages of Ollantaytambo and Chinchero (higher up in the mountains). Yes, there is a lot to see and do; also cultures to be experienced and absorbed as we allow the chemistry in our bodies to adapt to altitude.
The Sacred Valley of the Inca
The lush and fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas follows the Urubamba River. Its moderate climate and fertile plains make it an agricultural mecca that supplies the city of Cusco with fresh produce like corn, fruits and other vegetables. It is also used as the supply route to the tropical lowlands and Amazonian jungle region.
Pisac, a pretty little village in the Sacred Valley is a favorite tourist attraction – especially the big Indian market on Sunday, and smaller ones on both Tuesday and Thursday. It is also visited for its numerous small handicraft shops and the beautiful ruins above.
The ruins are set high above a valley of fields, farming terraces, and the stonework of the magnificent Inca citadel. The ‘Sun Temple’ is in the upper part of the ruins and some proclaim, “It is is equal of anything at Machu Picchu.” More ruins, mostly unexcavated, dot the hillside above….truly an explorer’s paradise.
This magnificent Inca fortress, overlooking the city of Cusco, played a significant role in the siege of the city during the Spaniard invasion. The scale and beauty of the ruin are truly astounding.
In Inca lore the Puma plays an important part, and it is believed that Sacsayhuaman was constructed to represent the head of the cat, with Cusco being the body. Its age is uncertain and likely dates to the period of the founding of the Inca Empire….early 13th Century
The massive fortress walls, over 450 yards long, are constructed of huge boulders,
expertly carved to fit together seamlessly. The largest chunk towers 26 feet (8.5 m) in hight and is said to weigh in excess of 300 ton. In the photo you will notice the precision with which the blocks have been shaped and perfectly placed, to the point of me not being able to even insert the thin blade of a knife. Every engineering mind asks the same question, “How could they possibly have accomplished this?” It really boggles the imagination!
Ollantaytambo, an attractive little town of the Sacred Valley is located at the base of spectacular Inca Ruins that were being built to protect the entrance to the lower Urubamba Valley. Steep rock terraces lead to the temple and to some indications of how the Inca stone masons worked their craft. What is equally amazing to every practical
mind is the fact that the construction boulders are not native to this location and had to be hauled from a quarry high on the other side of the river.
UnfortunatelyThe arrival of the Spaniards interrupted construction and this prevented the completion of this magical site.
Chinchero is a small Andean Indian village that provides beautiful views of the Sacred
Valley and snow capped peaks beyonf. Its major claims are its mud brick walls (adobe), traditional dress and its amazingly colorful Sunday market – more natural than that at Pisac. A massive stone wall, with ten trapezoidal niches is situated in the main plaza; a remnant from Inca times. Here you will also find an adobe colonial church (early seventeenth century) which was built on the foundation of an ancient Inca structure (temple or palace).
Puca Pucara is located in the Archaeological Park of Sacsayhuaman just to the north of Cusco. The ruins offers impressive views of the Cusco Valley and glaciers to the south. Speculation is the complex was used by Emperor Pachacútec as an out of town lodge. Several underground chambers and a narrow stream, between a granite walls are created in the old Inca style.
Kenko is one of the largest holy places (also called huacas) in the region. Indications are it was a site where sacrifices and mummification took place.
Tambomachay is also known as Tambo de la Caverna, literally meaning collective housing
(Tambo). Mach’ay in Quechua means resting place. The site was constructed from sculpted boulders, and hosts vaulted areas in trapizoidal form, flowing aqueducts, created long ago by the Incas craftsmen, buildings and a circular watchtower.
(Right: Note water flow toward lower left)
MORAS AND MORAY
The best way to describe this wonderful creation at Moray is to say, “Go see http://www.panoramio.com/photo/10163976.”
This Inca site, with its beautiful terracing will take your breath away. It was most likely used for religious and farming purposes. Ingenious design, unbelievable craftsmanship and stunning beauty hardly describe this amazing construction. Don’t take my word for it; seeing is believing – or is it?