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URBAN SECTOR

THE FOUNTAIN STREET AND THE MAIN TEMPLE

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MACHU PICCHU MACHU PICCHU MACHU PICCHU

Agricultural Sector
Urban Sector
  • The City's Main
         Gateway
  • The Sun Temple
  • The Intiwatana
  • The Fountain Street
  • The Main Temple
  • Royal Mausoleum
  • The Ņusta's Palace
  • The Sacred Plaza
  • The Three Windowed
         Temple
  • The Dry Moat
  • The Prison
  • Industrial Sector
  • The District of the
         Three Identical
         Doorways
  • The Sacred Monolith
  • The Upper and Lower
         Cemeteries
  • Towards the south, across the Dry Moat, we find the Urban Sector. Between the Sun Temple and the Royal Palace lies the "Fountain Street".

    This offers a series of 16 Liturgical Pools, water sources better known in the region as paqchas. This sequence of fountains or reservoirs is supplied with water from a spring one kilometer away, letting the water flow gently down to different levels.

    In Inca society, water was always considered to be a special deity. Consequently, there were special fountains and reservoirs for its worship. The main fountain was located in front of a simple three-walled building known in Inca architecture as a Wayrana, a ceremonial center where the Willaq Uma (High Priest) carried out different ceremonies in worship of water.

    The only reason that water does not flow down these courses today is because the tourist hotel is using it. Originally, water was brought from springs located behind Machu Picchu mountain.


    THE MAIN TEMPLE

    This is located north of the Sacred Plaza, very close to the Three-Windowed Temple. It is 11 m long by 8 m wide. It is a wayrana -type temple, meaning that it has only three walls built with rectangular stones.

    In the temple are seven trapeze-shaped niches on the central wall and five on each side wall.

    Behind the Main Temple there is a small room known as the Chamber of Ornaments. Due to its situation, it must have been closely linked in function to the temple. At the bottom of the back wall there is a low platform, like a stone seat or bed, that to Western eyes has merited the name of "the sacristy" of the Main Temple.

    Today, looking towards the northeast, one can see that the central wall of the temple has been moved. Archaeological digs have shown that the movements were due to rainwater seepage, although some geologists suggest the real reason is a minor geological fault existing at that point. They also indicate the presence of a similar fault under the Sun Temple.

    The deity worshipped in this main temple remains unknown. However, historians claim it may have been Wiraqocha, the invisible chief Andean god. Facing this temple there is a small outcrop of stone carving that some authors claim represents the Southern Cross, although this has not been proved.

    ROYAL MAUSOLEUM OR ROYAL TOMB

    Under the Sun Temple there is a small, interesting cave known as the Royal Tomb. The cave is roofed by an enormous sloping slab of stone which supports part of the Sun Temple. This was the place where the mummies of the Inca's ancestors and the high imperial dignitaries were kept, worshipped and offered tributes.

    Although it was thus named by Bingham, who thought that it had contained the mummy of a Cusco noble or possibly of an Inca, he wrote that nothing was found in the tomb. This is another contradiction of his since, why should he then suppose it had been a tomb?

    The logical thing would be for the Inca to be buried under his father's temple. No doubt, the small cave was connected with Ukju Pacha (the underworld) and the cult of the dead. On the side wall there are two large, trapeze-shaped niches with stone beams, and two small niches on the back wall.

    On the ground there is a carving representing the three levels of the Andean Religious World. In Inca society all corpses were mummified in a fetal position, with the only difference that nobles' mummies were kept in the temples, whereas those of ordinary people were buried or kept in cemeteries.

    THE PALACE OF THE ŅUSTA

    Within the Sun Temple complex, there is also a building known by some authors as the Cloister of the Ņusta (princess). Due to its location in the complex, it must have been closely connected with the Temple, and was possibly the home of the Willaq Uma (High Priest).

    THE SACRED PLAZA

    West of the quarry is found the Sacred or Main Plaza of Machu Picchu, which is the biggest one. It is at the northwest of the complex, at the foot of the Intiwatana. It was the site of the popular ceremonies and, perhaps also, of the Inti Raymi or Sun Festivity, just like the Plaza Mayor (Main Plaza) of Cusco. Near this plaza there are terraces that were apparently not used for crop growing. It is thought that they were simply built to harmonize the rough profile of Machu Picchu, and afford flat ground for people to attend public spectacles, or for planting flowers, or for some other obscure purpose unknown to the scholars.

    THE THREE-WINDOWED TEMPLE

    Facing this, some 8 meters in front of the Sacred Plaza, at the extreme north of the complex, lies the Three-Windowed Temple. Here there is also a great, partially carved stone which must have been its central column; nowadays some guides describe it as a sacrificial altar.

    It consists of only three walls and an adobe roof. Its stones are polygonal. It was probably of comparatively lesser importance than the Main Temple.

    The evidence shows this temple originally had five windows, the two currently non-existing windows were added to the wall after the Temple had been built. In the central part of the front wall there is one stone column as a support for the roof, while on the western side there is a carved stone with figures representing the three levels of the Andean World: the Hanan-Pacha (the sky, or spirituality), the Kay-Pacha (surface of the world, or materialism) and the Ukju-Pacha (underworld, or inner life).

    This temple's existence persuaded Bingham that he had found the Tamputoco, a mythical place that historians indicate as the origin of the Inca civilization. However, this hypothesis is only a part of the legend. The Main Temple has a room with two windows sided by "drystane" pirka walls, now called the Priests' House.

    It is on the east of the Main Plaza. It has a rectangular ground plan. Its name is derived from its typical trapeze-shaped windows. Returning to Bingham's hypothesis, the Three-Windowed Temple would be apparently a symbolic representation of the Tamputoco or "Three Window Hill" from which, according to the myth of the Ayar Brothers, the Incas emerged on the day of creation.

    THE DRY MOAT

    Between the agricultural and urban sectors lies a great Dry Moat, that served to protect the Citadel of Machu Picchu. As mentioned, the Citadel was the place of residence of the Inca and his panaca, the royal family, the nobility, the priests, etc. Thus the need of safety precautions for wartime, such as the Moat, is simply a reflection of Inca architectural planning concerns.





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