Machu Picchu is considered as one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of South American civilization with the ancient Inca city which is situated between the crest of two mountains along the Peruvian Andes at more than 2,400 meters above sea level. Remaining of an ancient culture consisting of alcoves, terraces, plazas, and temples makes this ancient city the premiere archaeological site of South America. When you come to there, a city like a dream makes you suprise. Because the inhabitants of the place and the priests and Inca royalty made the existence of the city possible in the 1400s.
Machu Picchu was said to be a citadel whose impregnable position is made possible by the steep canyon walls that lies beyond the edge of the city. The only access to the city is by way of narrow ridges that have to pass over the mountains before getting into the ancient site. Another access point is by way of bridges made from felled logs. The logs cross a narrow chasm and could be withdrawn anytime if security of the citadel warrants it.
While the normal tourist route is just within the confines of the city, it is possible to revisit these choke points in order to appreciate how invulnerable Machu Picchu was to the standards of warfare that existed then. Tourists who posses the requisite Type T personality can take a 20 minute long trail that is officially off-limits to most visitors. In fact a sign that says prohibido el paso marks the end of the normal tourist trail. Past this sign, the trail snakes all the way down and become insanely narrow. Midway along this trail, those who have made it this far will come across the narrow chasm that was once bridged by tree trunks and could be withdrawn anytime by the Inca guards who were assigned there.
Like the ancient pyramids of Egypt, the stone blocks that are used to construct the buildings of Machu Picchu are surely to create statements of incredulity. The Inca at the 1400s did not possess iron tools although they had knowledge of making bronze implements. Large teams of laborers dragged these blocks from adjacent quarries. They used the ridges and ramps to position them on their present locations. Archaeological finds give us a clue on how the Inca must have reduced the rocks to manageable sizes. Quarrymen inserted bronze chisels into cracks and fissures that occur naturally in the stone. Heat was applied to the metal and this helped split the boulders into workable sizes. Each rock was painstakingly chosen so that when these are finally put in place, the gap between rocks is so narrow that even a razor blade wouldn’t fit between them.
The location of Machu Picchu gives us hints into its creation. The mountains where the ancient city is located were considered sacred by the Inca. The position of the sun during equinox could be estimated using the natural landmarks present in the vicinity. At the center of the city is a pyramidal mount called the Intihuatna and on top of it stands an obelisk. Inca priest believed that the sun has to be lassoed and hitched to the obelisk after each winter solstice so that it wouldn’t continue on its present course and leave the city in darkness. Intihuatna in the dialect of the Inca means “hitching post of the sun”. The sun is sacred to the Inca and is one of their deities. The view east and west of the city presents a vista that gives Inca priests wide opportunities to observe the sun.
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