Get more out of your visit to Machu Picchu
Our top Five Places to Appreciate inside Machu Picchu.
TEMPLE OF THE SUN
The circular design of the temple of the sun is a unique feature within the buildings of Machu Picchu. The granite stones used in the temples walls are of a design known as the imperial style. There are three windows within the walls that are believed to mark important times in the suns yearly journey across the horizon, hence the name temple of the sun. The summer solstice is one such time that is commemorated.
Possibly the final resting tomb of the great Incan leader Pachacutec. The sanctuary of Machu Picchu was constructed mostly during the rule of Pachacutec. The temple of the sun is generally cited as the likely place for Pachacutecs final resting place. A gold statue of the prestigious Incan ruler is believed to have possibly been placed there. The site would be a fitting resting place for the bones of the most prestigious leaders of the Incan empire.
The Intiwatana rock is a ceremonial carved rock that was carved from the landscapes natural features. Unlike many other temples and sites the hitching post of the sun was carved from a natural rock formation. The function of Intiwatana has been the subject of much debate. It occupies an elevated posistion within the sanctuary of Machu Picchu itself.
Of general consensus is the fact that the winter solstice can be measured by the angle of the sun on this date. The stone carving was done with a 13 degree tilt in a Northernly direction, a fact highly unlikely to not be intentional given the Incan high levels of craftsmanship. The stones ‘hitching of the sun’ on the solstice and debated alignments at other times of the year indicate great ritual significance being placed upon the stone. The exact meanings of the different levels and carvings are never likely to be fully explained.
The fact that the rock bears no signs of destruction at the hands of the conquistadors is a clear indicator that the Spanish did not make it to Machu Picchu. In other places where similar Intiwatana stones were discovered the Spanish systematically destroyed them. This lack of destruction is yet another reason to appreciate the rarity of Machu Picchu and its unique contribution to our understanding of this ancient civilization.
Located in the northern area of Machu Picchu just before the climb to Huayna Picchu, the sacred rock has a striking appearance. At 3 meters tall and resting on a large 7 meter base the sacred rock was carved and placed in position in front of the sacred mountains. The rock has long been connected with providing healing energy and spiritual significance for many visitors.
The giant stones carved shape clearly resembles the Pumasillo mountain that can be seen in the distance when you face the rock. The exact significance of the Incas contextual connection have been lost over time. Whilst some claim this to be mere coincidence the knowledge we have of the Incan adoration for sacred mountains indicates a deep spiritual significance. The small ritual space just in front of the rock adds to the likelihood of past adoration of the rock and mountains.
TEMPLE OF THE THREE WINDOWS
The temple is over ten meters long by 4 meters wide and contains some of the largest individually carved stones transported into place here in Machu Picchu. The three trapezoidal windows of this temple are orientated facing the mountain top of Huayna Picchu. Inside the temple are traditional niches that served as locations to place ceremonial offerings.
The true significance of the temple is one of great speculation. Some attribute the three windows to signify the three founder brothers of the Incan empire. Others are quick to point out the sacred trilogy of three worlds associated with Andean cultures of the upper,middle and lower world. Better understanding has been hindered by the actions of Hiram Bingham when he excavated the site.
The site was found to contain a number of pottery works when Hiram Bingham first got here. Pottery and Tragically for our historical curiosity he shipped them off to Yale and we have no exact idea of what objects were found where.
TEMPLE OF THE CONDOR
The temple of the condor is a great testimony to the In an stone masons ability to carve natural rock formations into their own world view. The wings of the condor are carved into the natural rock formations . The condors head and neck extend downwards on to the floor probably acting as a ceremonial sacrificial altar.
The sacrificial aspect of the altar is further reinforced with the discovery of mummified remains found in a small cave below the condors wings.