Machu Picchu – Stonework

Machu Picchu - Stonework

Machu Picchu – Stonework

The central buildings of Machu Picchu use the classical Inca architectural style of polished dry-stone walls of regular shape. The Incas were masters of this technique, called ashlar, in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar. Many junctions in the central city are so perfect that it is said not even a blade of grass fits between the stones.

Machu Picchu – Gate View

Machu Picchu - Gate View

Machu Picchu – Gate View

The Incas built the estate around 1450, but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham.

Machu Picchu – Ruins of an Inca City

Machu Picchu - Ruins of an Inca City

Machu Picchu – Ruins of an Inca City

Machu Picchu was built around 1450, at the height of the Inca Empire. The construction of Machu Picchu appears to date from the period of the two great Incas, Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui (1438-71) and Tupac Inca Yupanqui (1472-93). It was abandoned just over 100 years later, in 1572 as a belated result of the Spanish Conquest.

Machu Picchu – The Remnants of a Civilization

Machu Picchu - The Remnants of a Civilization

Machu Picchu – The Remnants of a Civilization

Machu Picchu, located in Peru, is a 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 meters (7,970 ft.) above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley which is 80 kilometers (50 mi) northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Often referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas”, it is perhaps the most familiar icon of Inca civilization.

Peru – Fertile Land in Sacred Valley Highlands

Peru - Fertile Land in Sacred Valley Highlands

Peru – Fertile Land in Sacred Valley Highlands

The Sacred Valley was appreciated by the Incas due to its special geographical and climatic qualities. It was one of the empire’s main points for the extraction of natural wealth, and one of the most important areas for maize production in Peru

Peru – Ollantaytambo Terraces

Peru - Ollantaytambo Fortress Ruins

Peru – Ollantaytambo Fortress Ruins

The valleys along Ollantaytambo are covered by an extensive set of agricultural terraces that permitted farming on otherwise unusable terrain; they also allowed the Incas to take advantage of the different ecological zones created by variations in altitude. Terraces at Ollantaytambo were built to a higher standard than common Inca agricultural terraces, for instance, they have higher walls made of cut stones instead of rough field stones.

Peru – Ollantaytambo

Peru - Ollantaytambo

Peru – Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern  Peru some 60 kilometers northwest of the city of Cusco. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, built the town and a ceremonial center.

Peru - Ollantaytambo Closeup

Peru – Ollantaytambo Closeup

A close up of the mountains reveals a face resemblance and two protected storage chambers for grain and supplies

Inca Version of Milky Way Constellations – Qorikancha

Inca Version of Milky Way Constellations, Qorikancha

Inca Version of Milky Way Constellations, Qorikancha

The stars in the sky were very important to the religion of the Inca. Like many other cultures, the Inca grouped the stars into constellations. They saw many animals and other things from their daily lives when they looked to the stars. Qorikancha has this large mural that depicted the various constellations as the Incans saw and named them.

Qorikancha – The Center of the Ceque System of the Incas

Qorikancha - The center of the Ceque System of the Incas

Qorikancha – The center of the Ceque System of the Incas

One interesting aspect of the Inca civilization is the Ceque System, a series of lines connecting shrines in a distinct physical pattern around the principal cities of the Inca world – here Qorikancha is at the center. The ceque system broke Cusco into four sections, corresponding to the four royal roads (and four political divisions) of the Inca. Shrines were connected by the ceques, so that as you journeyed along the line, you would visit the shrines in order.

Cusco Qorikancha

Cusco Qorikancha

Cusco Qorikancha

Qorikancha was the most important temple in the Inca Empire, dedicated primarily to Inti, the Sun God. It was one of the most revered temples of the capital city of Cusco. The Spanish colonists built the Church of Santo Domingo on the site, demolishing the temple and using its foundations for the cathedral.

 

Churches of Cusco, Peru

Churches of Cusco

Churches of Cusco

Walking the streets of Cuzco, Peru one is reminded of the dominance of the Spaniards over the Incas in the early 1500’s. Being the capital of the Inca Empire, conquest of Cusco was the triumph of the Spanish. In celebration of their success, and to convert Incas to Catholicism, a number of churches were built throughout Cusco.

 

Cusco – Plaza de Armas (Main Square)

Cusco - Plaza de Armas (Main Square)

Cusco – Plaza de Armas (Main Square)

Known as the “Square of the warrior” in the Inca era, this plaza has been the scene of several important events in the history of this city. The Spanish built stone arcades around the plaza which endure to this day. The main cathedral and the Church of La Compañía both open directly onto the plaza.