Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist attraction in Peru because of its intricate system of Inca ruins. Machu Picchu sights are famous because it was the ceremonial center for the Incas, and the biggest draw is to visit the ruins and the breathtaking views you have while exploring.
Here are some of the must-see tourist attractions in Machu Picchu:
The Central Plaza essentially separates the ceremonial section of Machu Picchu from the residential and industrial areas. When visiting this plaza, you will be surrounded by roofless stone structures and steep green terraces. This location is another place where you will see llamas roaming through the area and grazing on the grass. If you want to have a great view of Huayna Picchu, this is the best spot to see it.
Very little is known about the House of the High Priest, but this is a must-see when visiting Machu Picchu. The building is still standing with all four walls and can be found opposite Principal Temple in the Sacred Plaza and the Temple of the Three Windows. These Inca structures are considered to be some of the best in the area.
The Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock is one of the buildings that has been restored and is one of the most photogenic places at Machu Picchu. This location is believed to be where Inca nobility was mummified on the carved rock behind the hut. The views from this point offer one of the most dramatic views of the entire complex below. In addition, there is a good chance you will see a small herd of alpacas and llamas enter Machu Picchu near Funerary Rock to graze on the grass along the terraces.
Take a scenic walk from the Hut of the Caretaker out to a narrow, cliff-clinging trail out to the Inca Drawbridge. This trail surrounds you in the lush vegetation of the cloud forest and treats you to a unique view of Machu Picchu. The bridge’s architecture is worth the hike because you will be amazed by the skill of the Inca builders and their use of granite to make the drawbridge. Plus, during your walk, you will see different species of bromeliads and epiphytic orchids.
The Intihuatana is a rock pill that is often mistaken for a sundial; however, the exact reason the Incas used this is still unclear. Many believe Inca astronomers used it to help predict the solstices because there is no shadow during this time. Located at the top of Intihuatana hill, this site is a must because there is an energy in the air that many visitors claim to have helped recharge their bodies, so they can continue their exploration of Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail will lead you to Intipunku — the Sun Gate — and is one of the many reasons visitors decide to hike Machu Picchu. It is believed that this is a way for the Elite in the Inca Society to enter Machu Picchu. This site is famous for its view over Machu Picchu, and you do not want to miss out on the view.
Principal Temple is named after the perfection of its construction, which is a fine example of the Inca masonry’s sophistication. This temple is located in Machu Picchu’s Sacred Plaza and is a massive three-sided building made of beautifully cut stone. It is believed that Principal Temple was used for ceremonial offerings. If you want to experience this culture’s masonry at its finest, this is the spot you must visit.
The Royal Tomb is almost hidden, but you can find it below the Temple of the Sun, near the center of Machu Picchu. Inca stonemasons carefully carved this natural rock cave, and its use is still highly debated. The main feature of this tomb is the large altar with two levels and the stone staircase that is carved into the rock. In addition, you will be amazed by the finely carved stone walls, ceremonial niches, and the Inca cross wall carving.
Located in the lower portion of Machu Picchu’s urban sector, you will find the Sacred Rock, which is believed to be a location where Incas went to meditate, listen to poetry, or have music recitals. Some claim the rock was carved into the shape of Putucusi Mountain, which is located right behind it. The best way to get to this site is to hike up Huayna Picchu, which gives you the closest starting point for your adventure to the Sacred Rock. Like many sites at Machu Picchu, visiting Sacred Rock offers some breathtaking views of the area.
The Temple of the Condor is named for the giant carving of a head of a condor and is a stunning example of the stonework Inca masonries achieved. The outstretched wings of the condor carving are made using rock outcrops, which adds to the magnificence of this site. It is believed that the head was used as a sacrificial altar. Additionally, there is a small cave below the temple that was used for rituals. Just behind the temple, a structure is believed to be used as a prison complex, which has a maze of underground dungeons. The Temple of the Condor is a site you have to see in person to appreciate its magnificence.
The only round building at Machu Picchu is the Temple of the Sun, a curved and tapering tower. The best way to view this site is from above, as the actual structure is off-limits to visitors due to it being unstable. The Temple of the Sun is one of the most sacred temples found within the Inca citadel. You will be amazed by the construction, especially the rounded walls and the trapezoid window, which made this temple available to the Incas for many uses, including solar observatory and offerings to their gods.
The Temple of the Three Windows is named for the three substantial trapezoidal windows and is located near the main square of Machu Picchu. There are many discussions about the purpose and origin of the temple and the windows, and some theorize the windows represent the different planes of existence — underworld, heaven, and Earth. Regardless of its purpose, you do not want to miss out on seeing this site, especially its structure and the stone engravings. During most hikes, the Temple of the Tree Windows will be the first site you visit and can explore.
Take time to plan out your trip to Machu Picchu and the Best Of Peru. The above sites are some of the most visited and should be included in everyone’s visit to this historical Inca site.
Intimachay – the Cave of the Sun – is an easy-to-miss site when exploring Machu Picchu, but if you find this small cave hidden away on the eastern terraces, you will be amazed by its beauty. Obscured in a veil of shadow virtually year-round, on the 10 days before and after the Summer Solstice (in December) this temple comes alive and should not be missed, its rear wall brightly illuminated by the sun’s light offering a once-in-a-lifetime view of the temple.
The Temple of the Moon is a secret shrine tucked away in a series of beautifully carved caves hidden from the main ruins, on Huayna Picchu. This structure had transcendental religious value for the community and is a unique place to explore. Rarely visited by those who hike Huayna Picchu, those who do make the extra effort can witness some of the finest stonework in all of Machu Picchu.
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