From the Sacred Valley, we took a train to the town of Aguas Calientes (Hot Water). We were getting closer to Machu Picchu! It was a 2 hour ride.
From Aguas Calientes, we boarded a bus that took us the rest of the way to the entrance of Machu Picchu. The bus drove up narrow switch-back roads. It took 20 minutes.
We had to show our entrance tickets with our passports to enter Machu Picchu.
Peruvians do not like to give credit for the discovery of Machu Picchu to Hiram Bingham. They like to point out that Machu Picchu was being used secretly by a local farmer at the time. Hiram Bingham was a North American. He was a history professor and an explorer. He knew there was rumored to be a lost city of the Incas, hidden beneath jungle forest. He first came upon part of Machu Picchu in July 1911.
Because of Hiram Bingham’s expeditions to Machu Picchu, the world came to know this mystical lost city. In fact, most of what we know today about Machu Picchu is what Hiram Bingham and other historians speculated based on their studies of what they found there.
Machu Picchu was built on terraces or planes. Part of this city was for agriculture and the other part was for rural living.
It may have been a city for Inca nobility. There were not many tombs in Machu Picchu and only the skeletal remains of one hundred and seventy-three persons were found there.
Out of those remains, one hundred and fifty were women which is interesting. They may have been especially chosen to be sun princesses. The Incas worshipped the sun as well as other natural elements such as the earth and water.
Hiram Bingham believed this (above) was a sun temple because it was constructed much like the sun temple in Cusco.
Directly below the sun temple was a tomb for royalty.
According to Hiram’s records, no silver or gold artifacts were unearthed in Machu Picchu, but scholars question that since the Spanish conquistadors never touched this city (having never discovered it) and they raided other Inca sites specifically for these precious metals.
Hiram Bingham did find ceramic, wood, stone, metallic and bronze artifacts however. Many of these, including mummies, were taken to Yale University for further study and research.
Yale kept the borrowed artifacts for years longer than they should have, but eventually returned them to Peru.
Incas may have believed that rock was a living thing and could change to human form.
With all of the sudden drop offs, I would not recommend bringing very young children to Machu Picchu, although this is exactly what we did back in 2005 when Marcus was 3-years old! What were we thinking?
It’s a lot of fun to explore. Notice the trapezoid windows. The Incas loved the trapezoid shape.
After hours of exploring Machu Picchu (and we only explored a third of it), we returned to Aguas Calientes by bus where we enjoyed lunch at one of the many restaurants there.
Aguas Calientes is a charming little town.
This statue is very symbolic. The condor represents the sky. The puma crouched behind the Inca warrior represents the earth.
And on the other side of the statue is a representation of the underworld.
This concludes my series on the Andean Culture. I hope you enjoyed what I shared from our family vacation to Cusco and Machu Picchu.