It is evident that the Machu Picchu was a carefully planned construction, meticulously designed to harmonize with its natural surroundings. This site is the result of a blend of unique experiences, where the work of human beings marvelously integrates with the work of nature.
The uneven topography was cleverly transformed into terraces with agricultural and urban functions. The landscape embraces at least two dozen rocks forming a big "mock-up" representing the surrounding landscape.
To the north, opposite the citadel, lies Huayna Picchu hill, also called Huaynapicchu or Waynapicchu; to the south, we find the Cutija; the Putucusi is located towards the east, and the Ccollipani valley, to the west. The mighty Urubamba river flows east, closely flanked by Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. The citadel stands 400 m above the river. The breathtaking beauty of Machu Picchu enhances its archaeological importance.
With the Huayna Picchu in the background, the ruins are
divided into four sectors:
we find what probably constituted the main religious
area, comprising what Hiram Bingham, its re-discoverer, called "Plaza
Sagrada" (Holy Square), the "Templo de las Tres Ventanas" (Three-windowed
Temple), the "Templo Sagrado" (Holy Temple), the "Mansión Sacerdotal"
(Priests' Mansion), and the "Intihuatana", a typical Inca carved
stone building, which had religious significance. The "Intihuatana"
("place where the sun is tied up") is a solar observatory, enabling
people to calculate the seasons and the passage of time by means
of shadows cast.
- To the north-east,
we come across most of the
residences, which are truly spacious.
- To the south-west,
we find perfectly built dwellings
and the "Torreón" (Tower) - this cluster could probably be considered
the center of city life.
- The lower section of Machu Picchu,
the south-east, consists of humble residences separated from each
other by narrow alleys and numerous terraces or platforms used for
farming, which are connected by a complex system of artificial canals
for irrigation. The stairways in this area have a perfect finish.
In the lower section of the platforms, we can find the cemetery.
The Monumental Mausoleum comprises a stone building with a vaulted
interior and carved walls, which was used for rites and sacrifices.
Inside the citadel, there was a section used as a prison, in which severely harsh punishments were meted out to prisoners trapped inside niches in the stone.
In the room section, there was an area destined for the nobility, which consisted of houses located in series on top of a slope. The Amautas' rooms (sages) had reddish walls, whereas the Ñustas (princesses) slept in rooms with a trapeze shape.
During Inca times, people could enter Machu Picchu along a pathway, currently known as the Inca Trail, which connects Cusco with Machu Picchu and where the localities of Patallacta, Huallabamba, Runku Rakay, Sayacmarca, Phuyu Pata Marca and Huiñay Huayna lie. In the area, travelers can appreciate the still-existing typically Inca ruins.
From Machu Picchu, tourists can go for an exciting walk to the top of the Huayna Picchu along a horseshoe-shaped path on the edge of a precipice. The Huayna Picchu, located to the north-west of the citadel, offers a view of dazzling beauty, giving the impression of being close to the Gods and Goddesses that accompanied the Incas in the past. On the way, visitors will find pleasure in the natural caves, carved caverns, terraces and steep stairways, which were carved in stone by the Incas.
The stone carvings, the tombstones and the mausoleum at the side of the path further enhance the beauty of the whole picture. On top, there are some semi-circular walls and platforms.