Having traveled globally for years and visited ancient sites myself, the subject of Peru was bound to come up. Peru is a place our Lara has traveled to in the past. Though there is one outstanding place that she has not ventured and that is Machu Picchu. However, Vilcabamba (Espíritu Pampa) is only a few hundred miles away from Machu Picchu, and we all know about Lara’s travels there.
Side Note: I highly recommend the four-day trek to the Machu Picchu ruins from Cuzco. The trail follows the Urubamba River. If you have enough endurance for this dream trek, it holds a rich experience in the history of the area unlike any ride up by Train or Bus will ever impart.
The Inca Empire dominated western South America in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is within this timeframe that Machu Picchu is believed to have been built. It is alleged that Machu Picchu, “old peak” in the native Quechua language, was abandoned around the same time the Spanish conquest of the pre-Colombian civilization began in the 1530s.
Historians believe that because of the lack of evidence concerning the conquistadors ever reaching or attacking the mountain citadel, many suspect a smallpox epidemic was the reason for abandonment. However, this is a suggestion and we may never know the exact reason.
A Variety OF Functions Perhaps …
When your eyes first set sight on this remarkable place it takes your breath away. Machu Picchu is comprised of terraced terrain and over 150 buildings. There are bathhouses, temples, and sanctuaries to name a few. Modern thought suggests Machu Picchu was a royal estate where Inca emperors such as Pachacuti (1438–1472) and other nobles resided.
However, there were other thoughts about the site that suggest it could have been used as a prison, trade hub, a women’s retreat even a city that was devoted to royal coronations. The scholarly perspectives on interpreting what Machu Picchu was is endless.
It wasn’t until 1911 that American archaeologist Hiram Bingham came to Peru in search of the aforementioned Vilcabamba, remember the Tomb Raider version? haha, that’s right, the same place only far different. However, Bingham’s quest took him in a different direction after he arrived in the Urubamba Valley. There, a local farmer directed he and his small team toward some ruins on a mountaintop he called Machu Picchu. After he and his team tackled the steep mountain trail to the ridge a group of local people led by a boy of 11 – years – old took Bingham and company to the threshold of the famed Inca citadel.
Excited about this discovery, Bingham wrote a book titled, “The Lost City of the Incas“
This ignited a flood of tourists eager to see the legendary city for themselves. During Bingham’s time spent at Machu Picchu, he excavated several artifacts, which he took back to Yale University in the interest of further study. The action, in turn, caused a battle over the legal claim of the artifacts and the return of the items to Peru. This legal dispute went on for nearly 100 years. It was not until the Peruvian government petitioned President Obama for the repatriation of the artifacts that Yale allowed their return.
A Defined Layout …
Machu Picchu’s walls, terraces, ramps and other structures appear to be a geometric natural wonder when viewed from above. You will see remarkably defined stonework with stones set so true that nothing can enter between the seams, because; the stones were intricately cut to fit together without mortar.
The terraced fields and amazing irrigation system display the Inca people’s astute knowledge of architectural, agricultural and engineering proficiency.
Another interesting factor about Machu Picchu is the way the city is divided into sectors. Archaeologists determined there is a farming zone, a residential zone or neighborhood, a royal district and a sacred area, which holds the Temple of the Sun and the Intihuatana stone. It is a sculpted granite rock believed to be a calendar or a solar clock.
I do believe that our Lara would have a field day uncovering various artifacts and whatnot in Machu Picchu I know I did. Maybe one day Lara shall travel to the famous site and take us on another fantastic journey through the eyes of a legend or a new connection. Only time will tell, and we all know tempus fugit! So, maybe sooner than you think. Nevertheless, as Lara would say:
Explore the world!