Machu Picchu, which means "old peak" — one of the most unique cities. Sandwiched between the two peaks and edged peaked crown forested high mountains, it is situated at an altitude of 2280 m on a steep slope above the valley of the "River of the Sun" and is buried in the Urubamba white clouds and dense fog.
Why did the Incas decided to settle in this remote place high in the Andes, is still unclear. Of the settlements along the roads of the empire, manages the territories endowed with complete autonomy. Perhaps, Machu Picchu was built for the same, but the exceptional geographical location, is best suited to conduct astronomical observations, soon made his preference. The Incas believed that the most beautiful scenery, a gift of nature, endowed with supernatural powers. In this respect, Machu Picchu was the ideal, and even mystical place where heaven and earth meet. Perhaps it and chose to be as close to the Sun and hourly serve their supreme deity.
For a long time it was thought that people inhabited this area long before the Inca megalithic stone structures and walls were the creations of Representatives prehistoric civilization. The most courageous scientists attribute authorship alien buildings architect. However, modern researchers have found that the city was built by the Inca ruler Pachacuti Yupankui in 1450. Machu Picchu could well be the second summer residence of the emperor and his court, as the capital of Cuzco climate was much hotter. In 1533, Cusco was conquered by the Spaniards led by Francisco Pizarro in 1572 and fell the last capital of the Inca Vilcabamba. Between these two dates depopulated and Machu Picchu, but what was the specific reason, no one knows.
Researchers reject the hypothesis of invasion: no signs of violence or destruction, they have found. There is an assumption that people squinted smallpox epidemic. And perhaps, the residents left the city as punishment for dishonor inflicted on one of the sacred virgins of the sun. According to Gartsilasa de Vega, the son of the Inca princess and a Spanish aristocrat, violence against the holy virgin was punishable by death, the perpetrator, all his relatives, neighbors and even entire communities. in addition to the desecration was impossible to even live animals. However that may be, but the researchers did not lose confidence that one day will be able to unravel the secret.
Machu Picchu is often called the lost city of the Incas. It took a little time to ensure that the jungle swallowed houses, temples and walls. The city fell into the 300-year slumber, until quite by accident was not discovered American Hiram Bingham, organize archaeological expeditions to South America. In one of his trips he met the Indian, who showed him the city lost in the woods. Scientist, convinced that he had found Vilcabamba, back here in a year, with the support of the National Geographic Society and the Government of Peru. Members of the expedition managed to clear vegetation from the building area and artificial terraces of Machu Picchu. Studies H. Bingham opened a secret life in the ancient city, but so far our knowledge of this amazing place is very limited.
Sacred Stones and the highest skill of processing
To get to the fortress city of Machu Picchu was not easy. Security was a major concern of its inhabitants. Led to him one of the paved roads, part of an extensive road network, encircling the entire territory of the Incas from the coast to the Andes. The closer to the mountains, the more dangerous it becomes way: in many places, a narrow road that could move only one person was along frightful precipices and cliffs. On one side of the village was thrown lift bridge over the abyss, on the other hand, the south-east, not protected by steep cliffs, high walls were built of five meters and one meter wide. In all the surrounding hills stood sentinel tower.
Many buildings of Machu Picchu is partially carved in the rock, partly built of expertly fitted stones. All sorts of bumps and hollows ancient Peruvians adapted under construction needs: the mountains and the rocks of old was their embodiment of the ancestors, so they never tried to modify. Magical significance and had a stone that was mined in the area. There too were the masters of the hut, architects, experienced builders and ordinary workers.
Perhaps the fact that many stones were venerated as sacred by the Incas, it is possible to explain such a thorough adjustment blocks. After all, between some of them and you can not stick your blade! It is true that the highest degree of treatment differed only in the stones, which went to the construction of churches and homes of the rich and noble citizens. It is known that the Inca blocks with polished bronze and stone tools, and sometimes rubbing them together as long as they are ideally not touch each other. Local artists were able to make stone-guard and faceted stones, nails, which gave the structure stability. Another feature of the Inca architecture — trapezoidal window and door openings, which are often overlapped multi-ton monoliths.
Machu Picchu was divided into three sectors. In one a royal residence houses of the nobility and temples. Most Sacred space separates this area from the quarter to average citizens, workshops, stalls and cemetery, arranged in Funeral rock. Below, in the southern part of the city was home to farmers and pantries corral. Gable roofs of their homes Incas covered with straw, which is laid on wooden beams, and they fastened to the stone pillars with vines. Several such buildings scientists tried to reconstruct. The results of their work can see modern tourists.
In the south and west of Machu Picchu were built step agricultural terraces, protected by walls of rough-processed stones. They were called "Andenes" (hence the name of the Andes mountain range.) Such an arrangement facilitated irrigation land and prevented the undermining of the soil. Andenes filled with fertile soil, imported from the Urubamba Valley. It grew corn, potatoes, herbs and flowers. However, for food thousand population of Machu Picchu some terraces clearly lacking. Within a radius of five kilometers from the city found a lot of places to be used exclusively for farming and ranching. Peasants who lived there were people of "second class" — representatives of disparate ancient tribes that once displaced from their lands by the Incas.
Between themselves for the city, which also is on different levels, connected the extensive network of stone steps cut into the rock. A high level of engineering and the art of building and different water system. Water was supplied to the city from the mountain springs to the artificially created channels. Plumbing ancient nation today has the same effect as 500 years ago.
Sacred temples of Machu Picchu
It so happens that most Inca city is famous for its unusual churches. The sanctum sanctorum of Machu Picchu — the highest point of the city, Intiuatana — "a place favored by the sun." The heart of it is a ritual rock resembling a sundial. With the help of priests determined the time of day was calculated months and years. Stone Altar played a special role in the ceremony of the symbolic tying of the sun, which was performed in order to light returned to Machu Picchu for the next year. Placate the deity could sacrifice all sorts — perhaps it was not only animals, but also children.
Temple of the Condor is very unusual, so called because of the stone, which follows the shape of a bird's head and beak. Behind him, two towering cliffs, symbolizing the wings. It must have been an unusual stone also served the altar, as the "beak" edged groove, which probably had to drain the blood of the victims. Perhaps, this temple was associated with the cult of the condor, who was the personification of freedom for the Inca, and air.
Undisputed masterpiece of architecture of the Incas — Temple of the Sun. Built on the rocks, he resembles a condor nest. Hence the priests could conduct astronomical observations, for example to determine the exact position of the sun, which was important for the mystical rituals. Semicircular wall of the temple hides huge granite pedestal with a lot of potholes, like an altar, and probably served as the altar. On its surface, the summer solstice at sunrise always comes the light.
At the foot of the rock on which erected a temple of the Sun, is the entrance to the cave is perhaps the mummy tomb for some noble person. The Incas believed that the soul remains attached to the body for as long as it was not touched by corruption. Therefore, the number of dead from the nobility and clergy were mummified. By the way, the Inca mummy does not like the classic Egyptian. In the east of the city limits has been detected ritual stone with three steps. One marks the sky, home of the gods, the second — the land, the third — the underworld where all life returns. This stone was laid of the dead, and then exposed to sunlight during the day and cold winds at night there is their natural mummification.
Appointment of the many temples of Machu Picchu is unknown. For example, what deity temple was dedicated three windows, scientists have not yet figured out, though, and found that was considered the Incas, the windows of the building were infinite.
New puzzles and excavations have brought the so-called Hall of mortars. At its center are the stones with holes carved into them, in the time to fill with water. Due to the special arrangement of windows and focus sunlight this room could be used for astronomical research, such important calculations terms of agricultural work. It is also possible that these wells are used for the manufacture of paints priestesses of crushed plants and minerals for murals tissue and blood vessels. Locals offer an explanation: in their view, water-filled mortar — two wide eyes, looking to the sun and the sky.
Today Machu Picchu — a popular tourist destination. Many seek here to witness the unparalleled art of building of the Incas. But many causes here and the legend of El Dorado — the mythical country, rich in gold and precious stones. Gold and silver are the Incas called Tears of the Sun and the Moon, these metals were sacred to them. Quite a different attitude towards them showed Europeans. The first Spanish conquistadors seized Cuzco, found there are so many gold objects, which is about six months melted into ingots and sent to the mother country (this has caused unprecedented in the history of the depreciation of gold: it is several times cheaper).
Having exhausted the supply of the Incas, the Spaniards launched another campaign to find the treasure, believing the statement to the effect that they are hidden near Cusco in difficult mountainous terrain. Machu Picchu due to its location has long identified with this fabulous edge. And, despite the fact that production of precious metals in it were found, it is still nicknamed the Golden City of the Incas. But even without such an impressive history alone, lost in the mountains of Machu Picchu could be considered one of the most mysterious cities. It is doubtful whether this plan will be able to contend with him to another corner of the planet.