Sunday, July 29, 2012

Climbing Machu Picchu

 My last big adventure in Peru was a couple days in Machu Picchu.  It was one of those things I'd wanted to do forever and it was rapidly getting out of my reach.  The history here is so complex and in some ways still a complete mystery.

Hiram Bingman is the official discoverer of the ruins.

 Even though the natives knew the ruins were there, officially the first white man who saw them couldn't believe what he'd found.  The ruins were covered in vines and trees.  It took years to clear the stones and start trying to understand what was found.

 The Inca built this incredible complex high up in the Andes mountains to worship the sun.  They did it without the wheel, without any advanced tools.

 Now thousands of tourists climb these incredible stone stairs to marvel what was built hundreds of years ago.

Because the terrain is so steep, soil was hauled in and placed between rows of stones to create terraced gardens.  These gardens fed a population that numbered in the thousands.  All of the stones and dirt was hauled in by hand.

During the peak of the Inca civilization thousands lived in this complex at the top of the mountains.  The complex included homes, temples, storehouses and layer after layer of gardens.  The stones that are the most dressed were used in the temple and the residence of the king.

The complex contained a spring with irrigation channels providing water to the king's residence and other prominent buildings.

The king's residence contained a bathroom with running water.

The temple of the sun was the most detailed and beautiful in the complex.

The ruins are so impressive and awesome that it's hard to comprehend how much knowledge was used to build it.

An amphitheater was built with stone that had properties that amplified a voice.  Someone speaking in the center of the arena could be heard by everyone. 

Standing in the complex, the taller peak behind me.

The homes spread out all over the mountain were often two stories.  The stones weren't dressed as perfectly as the king's residence and the temple.

The Inca thought that the condor was a magnificent bird.  One of the stone arrangements resemble the condor.

Lamas still roam the ruins, not afraid of the humans at all.

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