Machu Picchu also known as 'Old Mountain' was built by Incan Emperor Pachacutec in the 15th century. It was built in the clouds on a mountain known as Macha Picchu. It is a symbol of community and dedication. The city was built around 1450. This city lies deep in the Amazon jungle, above the Urubamba River and halfway up the Andes Plateau. This settlement lies 7710 ft above sea level.
Machu Picchu is one of the most important archaeological places of South America. Later on it was abandoned by the Incas due to outbreak of small pox and the Spanish invasion. This city remained lost for more than 3 centuries. It was rediscovered in 1911. UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site in 1983 describing it as an 'absolute masterpiece of architecture'.
There are different tales about Machu Picchu history. Some say that it was the mausoleum of Pachacutec since there were remains of the building with gold. Others believed that it may have been used as an observatory, some theorists says that it was built to control the economy of conquered territories. The silhouette of the mountain range looks like the face, looking at the sky and the largest peak Huayna Picchu looks like the nose. There may have been a maximum of 750 people living at one time in the city.
The city is divided into 3 distinct areas: agricultural, religious and urban. The structures are arranged in such a way that each building performs the function of the area. The area where there are natural slopes is used for agriculture, where crops like corn, cocoa and orchids and other decorative plants were grown.
The city was also divided into 3 distinct districts. First was the Sacred District where the religious places occupied the crest of the hill, the Room of 3 windows and the Intihuatana were also located. The city had a famous solar clock known as intihuatana, 'the hitching post of the sun', by which exact dates of the 2 equinoxes and other important celestial events could be forecast.
Machu Picchu was made of stone column rising from a stone block. It is said that when winter would be nearing the priests would perform ceremonies to tie the sun to the stone to prevent it from disappearing completely. The second one was the Popular District where the farmers and ordinary working class people lived. Storage buildings and houses were also located here.
The third was the Nobility Area where the houses of wise men were characterized by reddish walls and the houses of princesses had trapezoid-shaped rooms.
In 1981 around 325 sq.kms area surrounding Machu Picchu was declared as a Historical sanctuary landscaped with flora and fauna.
Tourists describe the journey to Machu Picchu as pure magic. The greenery surrounding the place fills in a complete sense of tranquility and peace. A must-see place for those who visit Peru.
The Machu Picchu was constructed out of polished dry stone walls. The stones were fitted together tightly without the use of mortar. Hundreds of men had to be used to push up the stones. The specialty of Machu Picchu is that the 100 flight of steps were carved out of a single block of granite. The city was well connected by irrigation and drainage systems and the irrigation system was used to supply water to all the houses from a spring.
The network of roads of Inca joined at Cuzco, the capital of Inca. From here the mountain roads led to the city of Machu Picchu and the coastal roads led to the other parts of the city.
The growing number of tourists has proved a real threat to the ancient heritage. Proposals for construction of luxury hotels and cable cars were vetoed by environmentalists and archaeologists citing it as further destruction of the place. The heart of Machu Picchu the sun dial or Intihuatana was destroyed when a crane which was filming some advertisement crashed on it thus losing one of the most valuable treasures whose loss is irreplaceable.
There has been a controversy about the moving of artifacts to the Yale University which the Peruvian officials are demanding back. Now there is an agreement wherein Peru will retain the title of the artifacts but Yale will share rights with Peru over the research of items and it will remain in the University for Part of research procedure.
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