Posted in Geography, History, Nature

Around the World: Machu Picchu at a Glance

Machu Picchu, Peru

*~*This post marks the first in a series titled “Around the World”, with every post highlighting a certain region, country or place in the world, with a special emphasis on that area’s unique contributions to human civilization. Comments and feedback are always appreciated!

Machu Picchu

Sometimes the most random information is the most interesting, so today I thought we’d begin this series with a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the South American country of Peru. Peru lies on the northwestern coast of South America, and borders Bolivia, Brazil and Colombia, as well as Ecuador and Chile to its north and south, respectively.

“Old Mountain”

One of the new seven wonders of the world, behold: Machu Picchu. This ancient city, whose name literally means “old mountain”, is named for one of the mountains within it. The other mountain in the area is known as “Huayna Picchu”, or “young mountain”. The citadel was a residential palace and ceremonial center of the Inca civilization, and built during the reign of King Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui in the mid-15th century. (The name Pachacuti means “cataclysm”, a name the king gave himself) But the verdict of its actual use is debated by archaeologists to this day.

Hillside at Machu Picchu

The Citadel

There are about 150 buildings within the Machu Picchu complex, most of which are made of granite. The stones of granite are fit so tightly together that it is said even a blade of grass cannot fit between the stones. A style of architecture which is now a hallmark of the Incas. Pretty amazing, considering the builders didn’t use wheels or working animals for assistance, the altitude at the site is nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, and the area is heavily wooded. Most likely workers pushed the huge blocks of stone up inclined planes, but in any case, this is a feat to be admired. Just look at how mesmerized this llama is by the site.

Llama overlooking Machu Picchu. Such a cutie! Source: Schuyler Shepherd via Wikimedia Commons.

He’s fixated.

Construction was such that the buildings look to be a part of the mountains, with trapezoidal doors and thatched roofs a common theme throughout.

One of Machu Picchu’s primary uses is thought to be as an astronomical observatory, and the massive tower known as the Torreón, or Temple of the Sun, may have been used as such (pictured below). The Incas were also deeply interested in the position and movement of the sun, which they tracked using the monthly calendar. The other buildings in the citadel were used as residences, temples, storage houses and altars.

Temple of the Sun

Machu Picchu’s amazing, but is still vulnerable to various natural disasters. For years, it had been protected from enemy threats due to its location in a mountainous, densely vegetated area. Which explains why it was mistakenly thought to be a lost city later rediscovered.

In any case, the Incas provided us with a spectacular achievement which will be admired for generations to come.

Stay inspired,

Curious x Nature

Sources: About.Com, The New York Times,, National Geographic, The Macchu PIcchu Gateway
Photos: Flickr, Wikimedia Commons (links embedded)

5 thoughts on “Around the World: Machu Picchu at a Glance

  1. That is truly amazing! I like how they construction looks like it is a part of the mountain! It looks kind of like a stair case! Was there a purpose in that?

    Yet another very interesting blog! Thanks for your insights! I am looking forward to the next post in this serious!

    1. Thank you, RedTulip! I think they chose the site for their citadel to defend themselves from any enemy threats. So they had to work with the terrain therein.

      Or maybe they just thought it was just a really beautiful landscape to live in. Can’t blame them there! 😉

  2. I never knew a small town like this exist what a wonderfull idea to get to know the world. It’s amazing in that era how they had the technology to build something like this. Thanks for providing us the helpful information.

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