Bonus Blog: Machu Picchu

Of all the sites we talked about this semester, I found Machu Picchu to be the most captivating. Machu Picchu is located on the Andes Mountains (one of the highest and longest stretch of mountains in the world). Climate in the Andes mountains varies from region to region, and higher altitudes are often cooler (some areas having snow at the peak) with lower atmospheric pressure and humidity. It is interesting to note that the Andean people were able to transform the steep slopes into farmland by terracing. They can plant maize, beans, quinoa and potatoes which would not have survived without the terraces due to erosion during heavy rain seasons. Terraces also help to support buildings and are therefore important to Machu Picchu’s longevity.

The architecture and stonework of Machu Picchu is simply breathtaking. Some people believe it was constructed by aliens due to its complexity. I was curious to know why the builders of Machu Picchu decided to construct the city on top of the Andes Mountains. It must have been a challenging task, given that there was risk of soil instability and possible landslides. For them to have built a structure that has lasted over the years, it is possible that they spent a lot of time preparing the site and building a strong foundation. Engineers today support the idea that Machu Picchu was built on one of the most difficult sites.

One major reason why Machu Picchu was constructed on the Andes Mountains is its proximity to the surrounding sacred landscape, especially the mountains. For example, the triangular peak Putucusi, Huayna Picchu on the north and Mount Yanantin are all considered holy mountains where the Inca people prayed. Also, the city was surrounded by rivers on both sides. It is speculated that the Inca knew the exact measurements of the mountain spring before they began building, because “the canal was just the right size for the spring yield.” Evidently, Machu Picchu was strategically positioned to serve as a royal estate for the emperor and as a symbol of conquest and power to the Andean people.

In 1994, a golden bracelet was found at the bottom of the excavation. It is the only gold that has been discovered at Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a lot of people visit the place every year.  Some interesting places to visit include the Caretaker’s Hut, the Temple of the Sun, and the Royal Tomb.