Monday, October 16, 2006

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu
Originally uploaded by Henrik & Barbara.
Reaching Machu Picchu city was the climax of the 4-day hike on the Inca Trail and it made the meeting with the Incas an unforgettable experience. Machu Picchu is a whole city, containing lookout posts, urban & agricultural sectors, temples and royal buildings which all together demonstrate the ultimate of the Incas capabilities.

Here is a few of the details about Machu Picchu and the Incas, we were most fascinated by:

Choice of location
The location of Machu Picchu on the top of a high steep mountain covered in dense rain forest and surrounded by the river Urubamba running at the foot of the mountain, the Incas demonstrated a great surplus in order to create such a great society under those conditions.

Humbleness and respect for the nature
The sun temple in the centre of the site used to be covered with gold and gem stones on the walls, and twice a year (the June 22nd and December 22nd) the morning sun shines perfectly through the windows on the “alter” in the middle of the building. For the Incas, gold was the sweat of the sun, which is why they covered the temple of the sun with gold. Likewise they covered the temple of the Moon with silver; believing silver was the tears of the moon. They also built temples to the rainbow, lightning and thunder and 16 fountains used only for worshipping the water. They shaped buildings from the bare rocks to demonstrate a harmony with the nature.

Animals were highly valued and respected. They had quotes on hunting the animals.
Many cities were formed in shapes of the animals most important to them: The condor, Llamas, Puma etc. Buildings were inspired by the animals too. At Machu Picchu you find the Condor temple shaped as a gigantic condor carved in the rock of the Machu Picchu Mountain. Within the condor there are several niches where the Incas were buried in order for them to fly freely into the second life. (The condor symbolizes freedom and independence). The Machu Picchu site itself is shaped as a gigantic condor. Other sites include buildings with the shape of a snake or a big paw of a puma.

Astronomical skills
The astronomical buildings and carved stones show their great understanding of the path of the sun and stars. One stone “Intihuatana” shows precisely the date of the two equinoxes. In addition to this, the stone is shaped to match the mountains surrounding it.
They developed at least two different calendar systems, one following the earth’s rotation around the sun, and another, following the rotation of the moon around the earth.

Architectural and engineering skills.
They were able to build structures that have withstood several big earthquakes, earthquakes that have destroyed several Spanish colonial buildings. They build with an indescribable precision, where enormous rocks fit together perfectly without using mortar or other binding material.

Their agricultural skills
Agriculture was a science where they developed techniques to adjust the plants and crops to grow in different altitudes, using the terraces. Through their high agricultural skills they improved the environment for plants and crops for example to get a better taste.

Their Greatness!
Their ability to build up an empire stretching from Colombia to Chile with a complex infrastructure of cobbled trails and one common language: “Quechua”.

For us, Machu Picchu showed all this and much more. For us it was a perfect finale to the last couple of weeks we have spend learning about the Incas. We do not know half of their abilities or culture yet though. Nobody does, - so much is still undiscovered or have so far been impossible to decipher of the found remains.
When we parted from there Henrik already stated that one day he will return. We both will – one of us will probably take the train though :-D

From Machu Picchu, we went to the city at the foot of the mountain “Agua Calientes” (“Warm water”). Agua Calientes was a good place to rest after the hard days on the trail. With the thermal pools to loosen the hard muscles, we enjoyed a time of peace and recreation before continuing on the journey.


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