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Machu Picchu


The
Machu Picchu archaeological complex is located in the department of Cusco, in the Urubamba province and district of Machu picchu. It is perched on the eastern slopes of the Vilcanota mountain range, a chain of mountains curtailed by the Apurimac and Urubamba Rivers. At latitude 13º7' South and longitude 72035' West of the Greenwich Meridian, Machu Picchu is located at a height of 2,350 meters above sea level (main square).

CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT
It is located in a subtropical zone, or dense wood, the reason why the climate is mild, warm and damp, with an average year-round temperature of 130C during the day. One can perceive two distinct seasons during the year: the rainy season from November to March, which is a time of heavy rains. Visitors are advised to dress accordingly during this season. The dry season from April to October brings on higher temperatures.

FLORA AND FAUNA
Both are abundant and varied. Typical plant life in the historic reserve of
Machu Picchu includes pisonayes, q'eofias, alisos, puya palm trees, ferns and more than 90 species of orchids.

The fauna in the reserve includes the spectacled bear, cock-of-the-rocks or "tunqui", tankas, wildcats and an impressive variety of butterflies and insects unique in the region.

The lie of the land, the natural surroundings and the strategic location of Machupicchu lend this monument a fusion of beauty, harmony and balance between the work of the ancient Peruvians and the whims of nature.

HISTORY
One cannot pinpoint the first to populate these lands, as it was a time of occupation rather than foundations.
Machu Picchu was visited by explorers well before Hiram Bingham, although with little success. These included Antonio Raymondi, the Count of Sartiges and Charles Wiener. Other visits included one in July 1909 by the Santander brothers, whose inscription can be found carved into the base of the Temple of the Sun. At the same time, Peruvian explorers Enrique Palma, Augustin Lizárraga and Gavino Sánchez arrived at the citadel by the route of San Miguel.

The railway line runs parallel to the river in winding loops that follow the riverbed. From here one can seethe typical vegetation of the upper jungle, which climbs up to the top of the steep mountain range that forms the Urubamba Canyon. The train passes through the Chilca train station from where one can see the snowcapped peak called "Veronica". With a height of 5,750 meters above sea level, it is the highest peak in the Urubamba range. The train stops at Kilometer 88, where the Inca Trail begins.

The train then continues on its way, passing through the station of Pampacahua and the town of Aguas Calientes, located at Kilometer 110. When the train line comes up against a wall of imposing granite mountains, it then plunges into two tunnels before arriving at the station of Puente Ruinas. From here, minibuses take the travelers up 8 kilometers of roads up to the Tourist Hotel. The entry control to the Inca citadel is done near the hotel.

GUIDED TOURS
The guided tour of
Machu Picchu  starts on a path that leads from the bus terminal. The path, built on purpose for tourism, enters the citadel in the section that houses a cluster of rooms near the outer wall. The path continues through a terrace to gain access to the agricultural zone before arriving at the urban area.

 ARCHITECTURE
The citadel is divided into two sectors: the agricultural (terracing) and the urban, where there are main squares, temples, palaces, storehouses, workshops, stairways, cables and water fountains which run through both sectors, which measure 20 and 10 hectares respectively.

It is clear that the architectural design was based on Cusco, the capital of the Inca empire.

Machu Picchu was built according to its natural surroundings, with its constructions following the natural curves and dips and rises in the land.

 The archaeological excavation that took place after Bingham discovered the ruins showed the land was previously given granite foundations with little surrounding soil.

Machu Picchu The agricultural and urban sectors are split by a dry ditch, the result of a geographic fault line. The following chapters describe the most important constructions in each sector.

THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR

The sector is surrounded by a series of terraces of different types and sizes which had two main functions: to grow crops and halt the erosion caused by the rains. The most eye-catching terraces lie at the entrance to the citadel. They Machu Picchu begin at the cluster of rooms located at the entrance and climb up to the top of the mountain until they stop at a large rectangular room.It is clear that the upper terraces at the entrance were meant for agricultural purposes as they have raised steps and are much wider. The lower terraces, meanwhile, have different shapes because they were built as foundations.

THE TEMPLE OF THE SUN

This construction is shaped like a semi-circle and built on solid rock, an existing granite block shaped to blend with the natural curves, with a diameter of 10.50 meters. It is composed of highly polished polyhedrons.

Machu Picchu There are two trapezoidal windows in this building with protruding knobs at every comer, and on the north side there is a carefully-sculpted door with bored holes in the doorjamb, very similar to the Qoricancha temple in Cusco. The Spanish historians relate there were once gold and precious jewels encrusted in the door. To the West of the temple there is a rectangular patio with nine ceremonial doorways alternating with prism-shaped studs. THE INTIWATANA

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