Machu Picchu

This Quechua word loosely translates as the ‘Hitching Post of the Sun’ and refers to the carved rock pillar, often mistakenly called a sundial, at the top of the Intihuatana hill. The Inca astronomers were able to predict the solstices using the angles of this pillar. Thus, they were able to claim control over the return of the lengthening summer days. Its exact use remains unclear, but its elegant simplicity and high craftwork make it a highlight.

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Nearby Machu Picchu attractions

1. Central Plaza

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The plaza separates the ceremonial sector from the residential and industrial areas.

2. Sacristy

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Behind and connected to the Principal Temple lies this famous small building. It has many well-carved niches, perhaps used for the storage of ceremonial…

3. Principal Temple

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The ‘temple’ derives its name from the massive solidity and perfection of its construction. The damage to the rear right corner is the result of the…

4. Temple of the Three Windows

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Important buildings flank the remaining three sides of the Sacred Plaza. The Temple of the Three Windows features huge trapezoidal windows that give the…

6. Sacred Plaza

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Climbing the stairs above the ceremonial baths, there is a flat area of jumbled rocks, once used as a quarry. Turn right at the top of the stairs and walk…

7. Prison Group

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At the lower end of this area is the Prison Group, a labyrinthine complex of cells, niches and passageways, positioned both under and above the ground.

8. Temple of the Condor

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This ‘temple’ is named for a carving of the head of a condor with rock outcrops as outstretched wings. It is considered the centerpiece of the Prison…