Machu Picchu

In the summer of 1911, an American archaeologist, Khairem Bingham, accompanied by Indian guides, undertook an expedition to the remote and inaccessible area of Central Peru. After going through a difficult and long journey, the expedition reached the edge of the jungle-covered mountain basin at the foot of the Machu Picchu mountain. From what Bingham saw, his breath caught: his feet lay fabulously beautiful ancient city Machu Picchu...

After going through a difficult and long journey, the expedition reached the edge of the jungle-covered mountain basin at the foot of the Machu Picchu mountain

Against the background of virgin greenery, dozens of stone buildings of Machu Picchu towered: an observatory, temples, houses. Since the opening of the New World, no white man has stepped here.

Machu Picchu is called the "eighth wonder of the world", "the main miracle of South America". Undoubtedly, this city is the most fantastic creation of the Inca and, in general, all Indian architecture. He came to us in its original form - undefeated, untouched, exactly as it was once built by the "sons of the Sun". Machu Picchu surpasses not only all other Indian cities of America, but in general all ancient cities on other continents of our planet.

The famous Cuban archaeologist A. Nunez Jimenez wrote: "The builders who conceived and built Machu Picchu demonstrated high art to achieve the unity of architectural structures with their surrounding nature". On Machu Picchu, the mountains and palaces merge into a single whole, like the river bed with its waters or the trunk of a tree - with foliage and branches.

The pointed teeth, crowning the pointed complex of Intiuatana - the main fortress tower of Machu Picchu, seem to be part of the mountain itself, merging in perspective with the conical vertex of Wine-Picchu, which serves as the base. Stone terraces or ridges are shaped in strict accordance with the bends of steep, almost sheer rocks, and the thousand-year-old stones of the Indian-built walls of Machu Picchu leave the feeling that they are an organic part of these mountains themselves. The natural landscape and architecture of Machu Picchu are inseparable, forming a single whole. Mighty in its pristine grandeur of peaked mountain peaks, towering like giant towers or pagodas, gives an aesthetic start to the idea of erecting this fortress of exceptional value".

Machu Picchu (this is the name of this city by H. Bingham, its present Indian name is unknown) is located 120 km east of Cuzco, in a wild, sparsely populated region, on the banks of the swift river Urubamba. This city was founded by Inca Pachacuti (1438-1471). In the first centuries of its existence, Machu Picchu was a secondary city, and its heyday began only after the Spaniards occupied Cusco and conquered much of the territory of the Inca Empire. Thus, the lost in the mountains Machu Picchu became the last city of the Incas. Here once the great Inca state ended its days.

No Spaniard has ever been able to see this "eagle's nest". But life in the city of Machu Picchu gradually faded. A splinter of the great empire, he could not exist, having been conserved for some time. The population was inexorably declining, Machu Picchu was encircled more and more by impenetrable forests, and finally the day came when the last inhabitant of the city died. And when four hundred years later Khairem Bingham again discovered the lost city of Machu Picchu, which never became the prey of the conquistadors, he found here only a few dozen skeletons. Almost all of them were feminine.

Machu Picchu - the embodiment of the bold genius of the Inca architects, who managed to build this large city in such a difficult and isolated place even for our time. All the buildings of the city of Machu Picchu are located at different heights. In order to connect them with each other, it was necessary to build more than a hundred stone stairs.

In all the buildings of Machu Picchu, without exception, cyclopean masonry was used-that is, without the use of any cementing solutions. This is one of the most archaic methods of masonry, characteristic of virtually all civilizations, standing at a low level of technical development. Huge blocks are held only by their own weight, and often the slope of the rock on which the building stands is 30-40 degrees. In some places, for better grip, these stones on the outside are slightly convex, and where they come into contact with each other, they are flat. One can only wonder how much effort and time the Inca had to spend in order to drag huge blocks of stone from quarries to construction sites without the use of appropriate devices and vehicles, without wheeled vehicles, using only the muscular strength of man.

The center of Machu Picchu was the so-called acropolis - a sacred site, where the stone masses of Intiuatana - the solar observatory, the temple of the Sun - are the only sanctuary of the supreme god of the Incas that has survived to this day. Here, by tradition, is the palace of the high priest - Villaca Umu. In the eastern part of the acropolis of Machu Picchu stands the Temple of Three Windows, built of huge stone blocks. What kind of deity he was dedicated to remains unknown. Its current name of the sanctuary was due to three large windows in the form of a trapezoid.

The so-called Royal Quarter in Machu Picchu (in the Quechua language - "Inkauasi") is built, judging by the architectural style, at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries. In the same years, apparently, was built and the so-called Torreon - a temple-fortress, something like a tower of a semi-circular shape, different from other fortress structures of the Incas. The tower grows straight out of the rock, which is undoubtedly very revered by the inhabitants of the city: it has carved many small altars.

To the south of Torreon in Machu Picchu is the so-called Palace of the Princess. At the time of the Incas, he appears to have been the residence of the coyi, the queen of the Incas. Perhaps he lived in one of the daughters of the reigning Inca. The Inca itself, according to some researchers, lived in the so-called Royal Palace, located nearby and consisting of two buildings. However, the presence of the Inca and his court in Machu Picchu remains unproven.

The third quarter of Machu Picchu, the largest, consists of unpretentious residential buildings, which were apparently inhabited by servants of the rulers. In many places Machu Picchu is surrounded by powerful ramparts. Behind them is a quarter of artisans. Even further beyond the city was located "a place of shame", as archaeologist Ermann Busse called it. Here, on a high cliff, is a large building, in which, judging by everything, judges, prison guards and executioners were located. Below you can see something like a city prison. In the rock, many hooks were cut down, to which chained prisoners were chained.

From the "prison" begins the path to the cave mausoleums of Machu Picchu. Another discoverer of Machu Picchu, Khairim Bingham, discovered and studied here a number of caves where burials were made. Judging by the thoroughness of the finishes, the mummies of the deceased lords of the city of Machu Picchu, and perhaps even the lords of the empire, could have rested here - they could be brought here from the Cuzco looted by the Spaniards.

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