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Machu Picchu Aerial View

Machu Picchu Aerial View

Satellite view of the Inca city of Machu Picchu

Although we can have a magnificent aerial view of the City of Machu Picchu, from the top of Huayna Picchu, there are things you can only do with current technology, through this satellite image we can see the perspective the creation of Inca engineers who worked exclusively for the sight of their gods, where the perimeter of the capital of the Inca Empire, forms the silhouette of the largest bird that inhabits the Andes, the condor. The main gods for the Inca civilization, were the sun, moon, stars and animals as the condor, the puma and the snake.

It is already pretty amazing, like a stone city of such proportions on top of an inaccessible mountain was built, without having discovered the wheel and without the means of construction and observation, with which we have now.

Satellite View of Machu Picchu

The architect Enrique Guzman, more than 20 years ago, bought a small scale replica of Machu Picchu in the National Museum. What he could see at that time, marked the research would start years later: “Inca City was shaped bird“. Thus began a simple inquiry that then will sustain in his master’s thesis for the National University of Engineering (UNI). I was fascinated by the way in which this city is rooted Inca mountain of Machu Picchu in the Vilcanota Valley.

Give out a point of archaeological or historical, gave a view from space architecture, and the volumetric occupation. He found what he imagined for years, the original perimeter of the Inca city of Machu Picchu, was shaped like a bird, apparently flying towards to the Uña Huayna Picchu. Guzman argues that the disposition structures, streets and squares views in a global form towards this hill. In the Inca Cosmology there are major apus and minor apus, who talk among themselves. Therefore, the City is facing the Uña Huayna Picchu, and this in turn is in line with the Salkantay, the elder apu.

Guzman said that, analyzing the volumetric occupation and urban occupation,
all cities are built with a point at which they are targeted and in the case of Machu Picchu, was built towards the Uña Huayna Picchu. But the architect mentions a different interpretation of the origin of the name of the city. According to him, Machu Picchu no means “old mountain” but rather “old bird“. He says the word “Picchu” would come from the Quechua “Pichiu” which means bird or poultry, for this is based on the book of Grammar and Art the general language of Peru, of Fray Diego González Holguín 1607.

This relation between Machu Picchu and its structures, has also been studied by the American researcher Johan Reinhard. He argues that Machu Picchu is located just south of Mount Salkantay, but you can not spot it from the Inca City. Both Reinhard like Guzman believe that the hills surrounding the city Inca, talk with the Apu Salkantay.

Guzmán also postulated that the Incas, had wanted to give the shape of animals to other cities (as part of their worldview). He analyzed another city built by Pachacutec, Ollantaytambo. Which general disposition of buildings, spaces and platforms also have the shape of a bird, also it ensures that the bird was one of the favorite animals of the Inca.

Not only Machu Picchu is shaped like a sacred animal to the Incas, a view from space, we would see that the Archaeological Capital of America and Navel of the World Cusco, has the form of a silhouette in Puma. The reason for the forms that had given them have always intrigued researchers. In the early 60s, archaeologists Manuel Chavez Ballon and John Rowe, they said the city of Cusco was in the shape of a puma crouched in attack. Idea supported, years later, the historian Maria Rostworowski.

But are not the only ones in Peru are amazing views from the sky, like the “Nazca Lines” that seem to be made by aliens, the question is how they did it?, these images without satellites or anything like that seems to be works of people who dominated the gravity?. So far no one has a clear idea of how the silhouettes of these animals were in such inaccessible areas like Machu Picchu Mountain, without the help of satellite views or other technology that would allow them to see from the sky and large scale.


When you think of Machu Picchu, one of the first names that comes to our minds is Hiram Bingham, but few people know who Agustín Lizárraga is, one of the unrecognized discovers of the Sanctuary.

While the rediscovery of the citadel is attributed to the American historian Hiram Bingham, there are sources that indicate that Agustin Lizarraga, a tenant of Cusco homelands came to the ruins nine years before the historian. According to Hiram Bingham, Lizarraga would have left an inscription on one of the walls of the Temple of the Three Windows. This registration would have been subsequently deleted.

Lizarraga’s story and his visits to the ancient Inca ruins are what attracted the attention of Hiram Bingham, who was in the area investigating and looking for the last holdouts of the Inca’s in Vilcabamba. Bingham, very interested in these rumors, began the search for these ruins, and finally reached Machu Picchu from Cusco in company Melchor Arriaga and a sergeant of the Peruvian Civil War on July 1911. There, the Bingham would encountered the Recharte and Alvarez families, who had settled in the platforms just south of the ruins. It was finally a child of the family who guided Bingham to the “urban area” of the ruins, which was covered by thick undergrowth.

Immediately, Bingham understood the enormous historical value of the ruins discovered and contacted Yale University, the National Geographic Society and the Peruvian government, requesting sponsorship to start the studies in the Inca archaeological site.

The archaeological work was carried out from 1912 to 1915. In this period, they managed to clear the weeds that outrigger the Citadel and the Inca tombs were excavated being found beyond the city walls. In 1913, National Geographic magazine published an extensive article about Machu Picchu and the ongoing research being done, thus revealing the Inca structure to an international audience for the first time.

With the passing of the years, the importance of tourism to the citadel of Machu Picchu has grown, first nationally and then internationally, becoming a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983. Machu Picchu was designated one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 and is Peru’s most visited attraction and South America’s most famous ruins, welcoming hundreds of thousands of people a year. In recent years, the Peruvian government has taken steps to protect the ruins and prevent erosion of the mountainside.

Natural Resources Management

The internal drainage system of the Machu Picchu terraces consisted of three layers: a first of mulch, a second of sand and a third of gravel. These layers allowed the water sucked by the terraces not to flood the platforms, run down the slope through the levels and be quickly absorbed without generating landslides that could put in danger the city and its inhabitants.

On the other hand, not only the rains watered these crops, because in the vicinity of the city is the Urubamba River. Through a system of 130 pipes and drainage sources, the Incas were able to direct the fluid from the canal, which allowed them to supply a large part of the city with water.

Engineer and Paleohydrologist Kenneth Wright spent 15 years studying the drainage system of Machu Picchu and highlighted the work done by the Incas. According to his research, 60% of the water available for the Incas came from the rains in the area which reached 2,000 mm annually. This implied that the engineers had to devise a way for the water not to accumulate on the summit and go down the mountain without causing landslides.

In addition to the drains and sources mentioned above, the ruins of Machu Picchu were strategically built on a layer of granite that allowed rainwater to move to the terraces and platforms.


The valley, running generally west to east, is understood to include everything along the Urubamba River between the town and Inca ruins at Písac and Machu Picchu, 100 kilometres (62 mi) distant. [2] The Sacred Valley has elevations above sea level along the river ranging from 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) at Pisac to 2,050 metres (6,730 ft) at the Urubamba River below the citadel of Machu Picchu. On both sides of the river, the mountains rise to much higher elevations, especially to the south where two prominent mountains overlook the valley: Sahuasiray, 5,818 metres (19,088 ft) and Veronica, 5,893 metres (19,334 ft) in elevation. The intensely cultivated valley floor is about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) wide on average. Side valleys and agricultural terraces (andenes) expand the cultivatable area. [3]

The valley was formed by the Urubamba river, also known as the Vilcanota River, Willkanuta River (Aymara, "house of the sun") or Willkamayu (Quechua). The latter, in Quechua, the still spoken lingua franca of the Inca Empire, means the sacred river. It is fed by numerous tributaries which descend through adjoining valleys and gorges, and contains numerous archaeological remains and villages. The Sacred Valley was the most important area for maize production in the heartland of the Inca Empire and access through the valley to tropical areas facilitated the import of products such as coca leaf and chile peppers to Cuzco. [4]

The climate of Urubamba is typical of the valley. Precipitation, concentrated in the months of October through April, totals 527 millimetres (20.7 in) annually and monthly average temperatures range between 15.4 °C (59.7 °F) in November, the warmest month, to 12.2 °C (54.0 °F) in July, the coldest month. [5] The Incas built extensive irrigation works throughout the valley to counter deficiencies and seasonality in precipitation. [6]

The early Incas lived in the Cuzco area. [7] By conquest or diplomacy, during the period 1000 to 1400 CE, the Inca achieved administrative control over the various ethnic groups living in or near the Sacred Valley. [8]

The attraction of the Sacred Valley to the Inca, in addition to its proximity to Cuzco, was probably that it was lower in elevation and therefore warmer than any other nearby area. The lower elevation permitted maize to be grown in the Sacred Valley. Maize was a prestige crop for the Incas, especially to make chicha, a fermented maize drink the Incas and their subjects consumed in large quantities at their many ceremonial feasts and religious festivals. [9]

Chicha has had a long historical significance. In times of warfare, the Incas would take the decapitated skull of their enemies and turn it into a drinking vessel for Chicha. This ceremonial process of drinking Chicha from the head of a foe symbolized the successful transformation from the disorder of warfare to the order of the Incan Empire. [10]

Large scale maize production in the Sacred Valley was apparently facilitated by varieties bred in nearby Moray, either a governmental crop laboratory [11] or a seedling nursery of the Incas. [12]

The Inca customarily divided conquered lands into three more-or-less equal parts. One part was for the emperor (the Sapa Inca), one part for the religious establishment, and one part for the communities of farmers themselves. In the 1400s, the Sacred Valley became an area of royal estates and country homes. Once a royal estate was created by an emperor it continued to be owned by descendants of the emperor after his death. [13] The estate of the emperor Yawar Waqaq (c. 1380) was located at Paullu and Lamay (a few kilometers downstream from Pisac) Huchuy Qosqo, the estate of the emperor Viracocha Inca (c. 1410–1438), overlooks the Sacred Valley the estate of Pachacuti (1438–1471) was at Pisac and the sparse ruins of Quispiguanca. the estate of the emperor Huayna Capac (1493–1527), are in the town of Urubamba. [14] Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for Pachacuti. [15]

Agricultural terraces, called andenes, were built up hillsides flanking the valley floor and are today the most visible and widespread signs of the Inca civilization in the Sacred Valley. [16]

In 1537, the Inca Emperor Manco Inca Yupanqui fought and won the Battle of Ollantaytambo against a Spanish army headed by Hernando Pizarro. Nevertheless, Manco soon withdrew from the Sacred Valley and the area came under the control of the Spanish colonialists. [17]

Oral histories in the Quechua language suggest that the ancient Inca married Pachamama (Mother Earth) and produced human offspring. The Incas are renowned for their precision in stone masonry. Architecture was a means of bringing order to untamed areas and people of the Andes region. Machu Picchu, located in the Sacred Valley, is an example of the Incas adapting building strategies that acknowledge the topography of the area. While other Pre-Columbian cultures constructed man-made mountains, the Incas emphasized the natural forms of the topography around them. The Sacred Rock, located in the Sacred Valley, is an example of stone that draws attention to the horizon of the mountain range. [18]

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The Puma (Uturunku)

This animal is one of the strongest in the Inca believes, he’s the one who lead us to an emotional journey through the courage, one of the characteristics more outstanding of this animal.

The Puma show us how attack fear, a feeling so ancient and innate to the human being, since the fear of die is one of the first concerns since the dawn of humankind. The city of Cusco was designed as Puma shape, because this way the city has no fear when intruders could attack the city.


The method based on Bayesian analysis described in this paper is the first attempt to use it to estimate the chronology of archaeological sites of Llaqta of Machu Picchu, Chachabamba, and Choqesuysuy. The proposed model suggests that Llaqta of Machu Picchu and Chachabamba were established around the same time period. On the other hand, the modeled chronology of Choqesuysuy suggests that it may have been built earlier than Llaqta of Machu Picchu and Chachabamba.

Because the investigated sites are in the area of the ITCZ, which may shift with even slight climatic changes, it will be necessary to investigate the impact of any such climatic events during periods of the sites’ occupation. This would result in appropriate correction of the relevant Northern, Southern or mixed 14 C calibration curves.

This analysis was based on samples from three sites and for obvious reasons more comparative material from different contexts is needed. However, based on the results of the current research, corrections to the chronology of Machu Picchu region for the first half of the 15th century are indicated.

Another important finding is that the Llaqta of Machu Picchu may have been preceded by other Inca installations in the area, specifically as indicated in our model by the site of Choqesuysuy.

This conclusion has additional support in the analysis of certain representations of rock art in the area that show that the site had a ceremonial importance several centuries before the occupation of this territory by the Incas (Astete et al. Reference Astete, Bastante and Echevarría López 2016, reinterpreted by Orefici Reference Orefici 2017).


Huayna Picchu may be visited throughout the year, but the number of daily visitors allowed on Huayna Picchu is restricted to 400. There are two times that visitors may enter the Huayna Picchu Trail entrance between 7:00–8:00 AM and another from 10:00–11:00 AM. The 400 permitted hikers are split evenly between the two entrance times. [6]

A steep and, at times, exposed pathway leads to the summit. Some portions are slippery and steel cables (a via ferrata) provide some support during the one-hour climb. The ascent is more challenging between November and April because the path up the mountain becomes slippery in the rainy season. Better conditions for climbing can be expected during the dry season, which runs from May to September. There are two trails in varying length that visitors can take to hike to the summit. The shorter trail takes approximately 45–60 minutes to reach the top, which the longer trail takes approximately 3 hours to the summit.

From the summit, a second trail leads down to the Gran Caverna and what is known as the Temple of the Moon. [7] These natural caves, on the northern face of the mountain, are lower than the starting point of the trail. The return path from the caves completes a loop around the mountain where it rejoins the main trail.

What is the Machu Picchu altitude?

What many travelers don’t initially know is that Machu Picchu is significantly lower in altitude than Cusco, even though only about 50 miles (80 kilometers) separates them.

Altitude Machu Picchu: 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above the sea level

Here, at a lower altitude in a more tropical region where the highlands meet the Amazon, the weather is more temperate than in Cusco.

Weather Machu Picchu: Generally warm and humid during the day and cool during the night. Temperatures range between 52 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit (11 and 27 degrees Celsius). This zone is normally rainy (1955 mm), especially between November and March.