Machu Picchu Highlights
There are many things to see and do when at Machu Picchu, so we have created a list of the best Machu Picchu highlights for you to read up on!
7,000 feet above sea level and nestled on a small hilltop between the Andean Mountain Range, the majestic city soars above the Urubamba Valley below. The Incan built structure has been deemed the ‘Lost City’, not commonly known until its relatively recent revealing to the world in 1911 by the famous Yale University explorer Hiram Bingham. Archaeologists estimate that approximately 1200 people may have lived around the area of Machu Picchu, and although a superb example of an Incan settlement, it was not considered to the most important Incan site.
The ruins of Machu Picchu are divided into two main sections known as the Urban and Agricultural Sectors, divided by a wall. The Agricultural Sector is further subdivided into Upper and Lower sectors, while the Urban Sector is split into East and West sectors, separated by wide plazas. Below we have listed some of the most important attractions of the citadel which are a must visit for all visitors.
The Caretakers Hut
This is found before the main gate and consists of a three-walled building with windows, from which the urban and agricultural areas can be seen, as well as all the surroundings. It is an ideal place to start your tour of Machu Picchu as all of the site is easily visible from here, and is ideal to take great picture postcard photos.
Start your tour here!!
We recommend that you start your tour here! The Caretakers hut is one of the best Machu Picchu highlights and hut affords great views of the whole of Machu Picchu, and will give you a good idea of how the site is arranged. It’s also a great place to take photos of you and your friends!
The Temple of the Sun
Also known as the ‘Terreon’ this semicircular tower like temple is one of Machu Picchu finest examples of the finest Inca stone work in the area. It’s carved steps and smoothly joined smooth blocks fit perfectly into a natural large boulder which served as some sort of alter for special ceremonies. A window off this temple provides views of both the June solstice sunrise and the constellation of The Pleiades which rises over the nearby peak of Huayna Picchu.
The Royal Tomb
Below The Temple of the Sun is a small cave, and although no graves or human remains have ever been found it is known as The Royal Tomb. In fact it probably represented access to the spiritual heart of the mountains, possibly where the Incan hierarchy carried out important ceremonies throughout the year.
The Three Windowed Temple
In the Sacred Plaza towards the center of Machu Picchu is another important Incan temple named after its three eastern facing windows. Dominating the southeastern edge of the plaza this attractive temple has three unusually large windows looking into the mountains beyond the Urubamba River. The plaza is flanked by temples and located relatively high in a central spot. It was most likely the most important religious place where all the important rituals and ceremonies took place.
Intihuatana / Solar Clock
Intihuatana meaning hitching post of the sun is considered to be some sort of solar observatory or astronomical calendar, which the Incas used to mark important times of the year. At midday on March 21st and September 21st, the sun stands almost directly above the pillar, creating no shadow at all. It was considered that on these two equinoxes (not summer and winter solstice) the Incas would hold special ceremonies or make sacrifices to the earth.
This is one of the most famous mountain in the site of Machu Picchu, and beholds incredible views for those brave enough to make the 40 minute climb to the top. Huayna Picchu meaning Young Peak stands 380 meters (1,180ft) higher than Machu Picchu and offers visitors another change to see some impressive Incan terraces, temples and housing on route to the very top. Note that entrance to Huayna Picchu is limited to 500 people per day, and those wishing to make the short hike must register at the earliest opportunity to avoid disappointment.
See our latest Peru Article about the change in entrance rules for Huayna Picchu. IMPORTANT STUFF!
Limited Entrance to Huayna Picchu!!
Entrance rules to Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu have now changed! Follow the link above to read more about entrance rules. For all the latest information about Machu Picchu and other tourist attractions in Peru, take some time to read the other pages in our comprehensive Guide to Peru.
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