Friday, September 27, 2013

Photos:  The City of the Mist: Machu Picchu

Our morning began early in the town of Aguas Calientes, the closest point of access to Macchu Picchu.  We travelled by bus to the entrance gates a bit before first light.

Slowly the incredible steep mountains below Machu Picchu emerged from the morning clouds.   The site was selected by the Incas because of its position relative to sacred landscape features such as its mountains that are purported to be in alignment with key astronomical events.

As it often does in Machu Picchu, it was raining lightly, but we were prepared.  Me with rain jacket and rain pants.

In the early morning, much of Machu Picchu was playing peek-a-boo with us... clouds would move aside to grant us a brief vista..then return.  This is my photo approaching the watchman's cottage that offers a view of the entire city below

By 9 AM the rain stopped and the great extent of the city emerged. 
The Incas built the city around 1450, but abandoned it a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest

The site is roughly divided into an urban sector and an agricultural sector, as well as the upper town and the lower town. The temples are part of the upper town, the warehouses the lower

The city lay lost and forgotten until an American historian - Hiram Bingham made a number of forays  into the mountains and jungles and followed leads until he found it in 1911. The image of Indiana Jones was based on Bingham

By 10:30 the warm bright sun came out a allow us to experience yet another face of Machu Picchu
Unfortunately at about the same time, tour buses connecting with the day trippers from Cusco started arriving  - and we had to share our mystical Machu Picchu with a lot of other folks...

Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls.

Trazoidal stone doors

What feet, what loads have passed up and down these steps...

Each stone was done perfectly that no gaps - not even room for a playing card to be pushed between - and the work was done with the aid of no mortar!

One of the resident llamas who tends the grass

 Machu Picchu is a model of city planning - function and beauty integrated, systems for urban agriculture, movement of people, and water and waste management all considered in the city design.

Some houses have been rethatched to show how they would have appeared in Inca times

Vast systems of terraces permitted food products to be produced close to the community.  Not only the terrace walls but also the soil had to be imported.  Rain water was plentiful

The Intihuatana stone is one of many ritual stones in South America. These stones are arranged to point directly at the sun during the winter solstice.

In the late afternoon - the mist was returning to claim the city again