-We arrived by train in Aguas Calientes, the nearest town to Machu Picchu, on Wednesday afternoon. We were scheduled to visit Machu Picchu on Thursday morning. But we just could not wait to see the ruins, so we bought a ticket to go up see it right away. Oh my what a site to see!!!!! (Pun intended :))) ) Words cannot express how amazing this place is. But we are going to try........
Mahcu Picchu is in a much more dramatic place than we have visited thus far. It is high in the steep mountains with lush vegetation due to humidity from the nearby Amazon basin. This site is very well-preserved because the Quechua hid it from the Spanish to keep it from being destroyed. Thus, it remained relatively unknown to the outside world until 1910 when rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, who was lead there by a ten-year old boy. Bingham then made the existence of Machu Picchu well-known through hundreds of pictures and several archaeological expeditions.
It is a multifunctional city that was mainly used as a retreat for astronomers and a administrative center. About 500 - 800 people lived there at any one time. Astronomers were important in the local culture. They used the stars and the movement of the sun to govern planting, harvests, and even locations of cities.
We spent hours exploring and learning about the different buildings and their functions. Yes, there were lots of steps! Too many to count!! Oh, and llamas were grazing in the open areas. They walked right by us on the path. Can you spot the chinchilla on the steps in one photo?
The top center photo is the Temple of the Sun. The windows are oriented to capture the sun at specific times. Do you see the two bumps in the wall to the right of the window bottom? Archaeologists believe the window was originally above them and had to be relocated to the left. Oops!
Notice the differences in the stonework of the temple and the wall below it? Think about why they are different and post your ideas.