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Attractions in Machu Picchu Surroundings
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XVI Century

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MACHU PICCHU MACHU PICCHU MACHU PICCHU

Machu Picchu is surrounded by some archaeological sites, so it is possible to go along some short walkways close to the pre-Hispanic city. It is highly recommended to visit the Intipuncu, the "Templo de la Luna" (Moon Temple) and the "Puente Levadizo" (Drawbridge).

To go to these places, it is necessary to have enough time and be acquainted with the area, since the surrounding precipices and the poor condition of some Inca pathways make the route slightly unsafe, especially during the rainy season.

HUAYNA PICCHU

Huayna Picchu consists of a spur which is part of the mountain. Its foot is washed by the waters of the Urubamba river. The mountain, whose Quechua name means "young mountain" or "needle mountain", is located opposite Machu Picchu.

Waynapijchu served as a look-out post, communications station and place of worship.

On top of the mountain there are huge blocks of finely carved stones, which are slightly sloping, this area once serving as a worship or temple area.
From the top, one may admire the breathtaking view of the Main Square of Machu Picchu, located 400 meters below, as well as the dizzying drop of Urubamba canyon with its infinite shades of green, and the whitish snow-capped peaks.

Access from Machu Picchu takes almost an hour along a trail of almost vertical zigzagging stairways, bordered by dizzying precipices. If you get properly acclimatized to the height, and want to ascend the Huayna Picchu, you should go north of Machu Picchu mountain, where both the sacred city and Huayna Picchu, the highest hill, are located.

Huayna Picchu, also known as Waynapicchu, rises to a height of 2,667 meters and its top covers an area of approximately 2,000 square meters. It was explored for the first time by an expedition from Yale University that found around a dozen settlements. The most significant of these was the one discovered by Hiram Bingham, who called the site "The Great Cavern", later renamed as The Moon Temple.

Getting to this location takes about 2 ½ hours and excursions only leave till 1 p.m. To go on these, tourists are required to register in the hut placed at the beginning of the path.

Location
The Wayna Picchu, which is generally chosen as a backdrop in classical paintings of Machu Picchu, is located north of the sacred city.

On its highest peaks there are terraces, built to prevent the loss of soil due to "washing" of hillsides during the rainy season, and for using as gardens. It is possible to reach the mountain top along a series of long stone stairways located on the left side of the mountain. The ascent takes about an hour at a slow pace. It is not exactly dangerous - however, anyone wishing to embark on this venture should be extremely careful, since any slight mistake or stumble could be fatal. At the top, there is a stunning panoramic view of the Inca City.

There are also numerous terraces on the edge of the abyss, formerly used to grow spices, which may have been considered holy. There also remain some ruins of an unfinished or partially shattered temple. On the north flank, we find the so called "Templo de la Luna" (Moon Temple), which is built over a geological flaw.

The path
The track to Waynapijchu begins at the back of the "Sacred Rock" at the northern tip of the city. The lower part of the pathway is located in the gorge which connects both parts of the mountain.

The path, which is nearly two meters wide, has no handrails and its edges fall precipitously to a deep gorge. The vertiginous pathway makes a zigzag ascent up the western flank of the "needle mountain". A little higher up, this pathway narrows to one pace width, and the hillside slopes steeply, making this path unsuitable for heart patients.

Halfway up, there is another path which ends at the Moon Temple. The historian from Cuzco, Victor Angeles, says: "There is a steel cable placed around a meter above ground level, intended to serve as a handrail for apprehensive visitors. There have been some accidents and, in every case, the most difficult thing was finding the corpses afterwards".

Building the hillsides
On top of Huayna Picchu, there are numerous constructions, such as terraces, small buildings, carved rocks, passageways and tunnels, which are all really well-finished. Along the pathway to the top there are various archaeological remains dotted over the hillside.

Huayna Picchu surroundings
Other buildings and constructions are evidence of Inca presence on Huayna Picchu. In front of the Moon Temple, there are various platforms which are over 50 meters long by 2 meters high and are connected by stone stairways. There are also individual two-story buildings, called "canchas", and several groups of platforms and buildings. In short, it could be said that the mountain is divided into eight different archaeological sites.

THE TEMPLE OF THE MOON

The magnificent and extraordinary artistic skill of the Incas is really amazing. The Moon Temple is one more instance of their incredibly sophisticated constructions. Although the site is really small, it amazes one with the perfection of its chisel work.

This archaeological site is located halfway up to Waynapijchu, on its northern flank. Its builders carved a great temple inside a cave, with niches and fake doors inserted in the stones, with an enormous 8 meter high by 6 meter wide entrance. Its finish is really delicate and it is remarkably located. Its features make theorists believe that it must have been a royal tomb, place of worship and look-out post.

The premises are rectangular with the rocks of the mountains as walls. Its three doors are 1.60 meters high (in the front) and 1.00 m high (at the sides). Inside, there are six trapezoidal niches. The "temple", strictly speaking, consists of a major platform supporting a building which is raised 5 meters above the ground, with an 8 meter-high entrance. To the left, there are five new trapezoidal niches with a double jamb, composing one of the most delicate works of masonry in the area of Machu Picchu.

INTIPUNKU OR GATE OF THE SUN

Following the path leading to Machu Picchu to the south-east, approximately 1 ½ miles away, tourists can reach the so called Intipunku or Intipuncu, which stands for "Gate of the Sun". It was originally a fortress of the sacred city, reached through the still-accessible "inti ñan" or "royal path". It is interesting to note the presence of altars or resting stones, which could have had a liturgical purpose, since Bingham called the facades, which were built at intervals, "ritual stations". Intipuncu is an important archaeological site with floating rooms and paths, consisting of lozas (flat slabs of rock) emerging as projections from the mountainsides.

THE DRAWBRIDGE

This singular drawbridge is part of one of the most dangerous trails in the city. The trail begins in the "Building with Ten Windows" to the south of the citadel.

It is a narrow path daringly located on the flanks of a granite mountain. The 1 ½ mile pathway is abruptly interrupted after a hairpin bend, giving way to a precipice, spanned by a narrow drawbridge made of logs.

The wooden bridge is anchored in a fissure in the stone pathway. Thus, the logs are easily removable in case of danger. The bridge and the path were built taking proper safety measures into account.


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