|Travel and tourism throughout Latin America.|
|Machu Picchu, Peru|
mysterious Incan city high in the Peruvian mountains was masterfully
built, thrived for a hundred years, and then was abandoned.
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While some believe Machu Picchu was a normal working city, others theorize that it served as a place for rest and relaxation for the leaders of the Incas.Walking through Machu Picchu it is easy to see the care and thought that went into planning and building the city. Terraces offering sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains, graceful gardens and noble temples abound here. Why, then, was it completely abandoned by its residents? Scholars have presented theories ranging from illness to drought, but no one can say for certain.
While its citizens left Machu Picchu behind sometime in the 1500s, and some locals knew of it, it wasn't until 1911 that westerners became aware of the town standing in silence. It is unique in that Spanish conquistadors never learned of it, so that the type of religious temples and monuments that were destroyed in other cities remained intact in Machu Picchu. Today it is South America's most popular tourist attraction and has been named a World Heritage Site.
Guides are generally easy to find at the site, and can point out and explain some of the more interesting and important sights.
Temple of the Sun
The Inca worshipped the sun as a god, and designed this circular structure so that two window were aligned with the sunrise on the summer and winter soltstices.
The Inca employed their considerable knowledge of astronomy when constructing Intihuatana, also known as "the hitching post of the sun." It is a carved rock that experts believe was intended to be a type of calendar or clock. Intihuatana is placed so that on September 21 and March 21, the sun stands directly above it at midday and does not cast a shadow. Incans believed that the sun was hitching itself to the rock at those times, and stopping its movement across the sky.
In the heyday of the Inca, no Incan village was built without first dedicating a sacred rock.
The way to Funerary Rock is a set of stairs. You will most likely arrive weary, but pleased at the magnificent views of the area. Experts believe that this is the spot where the Incan nobility was mummified. From here you can see the beginnings of the Inca trail, leading from Machu Picchu to the once great Incan city, Cusco.
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