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Machu Picchu

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FC: Machu Picchu 2011

1: 20 | P | E | R | U | 2011

2: Our Trip to Peru November, 2011 Cusco and Machu Picchu | Sacsayhuaman, Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Hiram Bingham Train, Lima | A Parkinson Production Photos: Jeanie, C.Jay, and various strangers who took our picture for us! Text written by Jeanie

4: Our gateway to Machu Picchu was the town of Cusco. We flew here from Lima where we had spent the night after spending a week in the Galapagos Islands. In Cusco we stayed at the Hotel Monasterio, a restored 1592 monastery which is a national historic monument. It is located on the Plaza Nazarenas (see below). Upon arriving we were served "coca" tea (top picture) which helps with altitude sickness. It tasted pretty good, and it worked! | Cusco

6: C.Jay is in the long hallway leading to our room. Our room was quite a hike from the lobby! We had a good lunch (I was happy to have good food again after Galapagos!) and then went on a city tour. Below you can see the beautiful flower gardens in our hotel.

7: Cusco is at an altitude of 11,000 feet in the Andes Mountains. Most people come through Cusco on their way to Machu Picchu. It was the capital of the Inca Empire and has stone streets and building foundations laid by the Incas over 500 years ago. The Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1532 looting the gold, silver and stone to build their own churches and palaces directly onto the foundations of the Inca sites.

8: C.Jay is looking down Hatunrumiyoc, a narrow cobblestone pedestrian street. It is famous for the Inca walls that have huge stones precisely carved to fit together without mud or concrete. You can't get a knife or even fit a piece of paper between the stones! Notice the dog? This is one of hundreds of stray dogs that roam the streets of Cusco.

9: These walls used to belong to an Inca Palace. Jeanie and a Peru man stand next to the famous 12 angled stone masterpiece. The stones fit together like a giant jigsaw puzzle. We thought the man was just being friendly, but he was selling postcards! | To the right is Plaza de Armas, framed by the Andes Mountains. The plaza has two of Cusco's historical churches. Pictured is the Templo de la Compania de Jesus.

10: Qoricancha (right) was an important temple in the Inca Empire where 4,000 of the highest ranking priests lived. It was a glittering palace with gold panels lining the walls, and life-sized gold figures. After the Spaniards ransacked the temple and took all the gold, the stone walls became the foundation for the Convent of Santo Domingo, constructed in the 17th century (see above). The church was built on and around the walls of the temple.

11: In 1953 there was an earthquake and they discovered the Inca walls that had been covered up when they built the Convent. Today you can see the fine stone-masonry of the Incas. and the earthquake proof trapezoidal windows and doorways.

12: Sacsayhuaman is considered to be one of the most important Inca monuments after Machu Picchu. It is located high above the city of Cusco and thought to have been a military complex during Inca times. Construction of the site began about 1440, and 20,000 workers were needed. The massive limestone blocks - largest is 361 tons - were rolled to the site.

14: The walls were constructed in typical Inca fashion, without mortar. The original complex housed 10,000 men. Left: Jeanie with Peruvian women at the site.

15: At Sacsayhuaman the Inca ruler Manco Capac II fought against Spaniard Juan Pizarro and lost. Today only the outer walls remain of the original fortress, which the Spanish tore down and then used the materials to build their own city of Cusco. Stones continued to be taken from the site until the mid 20th century. Only one-fifth of the original complex is left. Above: C.Jay and Jeanie at Sacsayhuaman.

16: Ollantaytambo is located in Sacred Valley, between Cusco and Machu Picchu. Here you can find the terraced ruins of a massive temple-fortress built by the Inca Pachacutec. | The Incas built terraces on the sides of mountains where they planted corn, potatoes and other plants. The use of steps increased the area available for crops and controlled the amount of water they used. Today you can see terraces throughout Sacred Valley and at Machu Picchu. In some areas, locals still grow corn on them.

19: Left: Rising above the valley and town are dozens of rows of steep stone terraces. The Incas successfully defended the site against the Spanish in 1537. Above, Jean stands in a trapezoidal doorway which was the principal entry to the temple. C.Jay stands next to huge pink granite rocks that were cut, polished and fitted together; it is believed they were to be part of rooms never completed. This is considered one of the great stonemasonry achievements of the Incas.

20: Th There are only two ways to get to Machu Picchu: by hiking the Inca Trail or by train. We took the luxury Hiram Bingham train that has dining cars and lounge cars. We were served a 3 course meal on the way up and back.

21: On board the train, we could go to the last car and look out at the scenery. We had entertainment (see guitar player) on board and before the train left the station. | In the picture on bottom left you can see part of the Inca Trail from the train. We saw hikers with their backpacks and mules.

23: Welcome to Machu Picchu, Lost City of the Incas

25: Here we are! The mountain that serves as a backdrop to Machu Picchu is called Huayna Picchu. Above you see the visitors like us looking out at the spectacular views, not just of Machu Picchu but of the Andes Mountains too.

26: Here we are still very high above the city, taking in the views. To the far right (see Jeanie waving) is the Caretaker's Hut, also called the Guardhouse.

29: Down below in the picture on the far left you can see the Urubamba River which provided the Incas with water for their crops. Left: Jeanie, Below: CJay, with the rest of our tour group, waves. | American explorer Hiram Bingham stumbled upon the ruins in 1911, not recognizing what he had found. He took many of the artifacts he found to Yale University. Negotiations are underway to give some of them back to Peru.

30: Now we are heading down to the main section of the ruins. C.Jay stands at the main gate. We are about to enter the city, which has clearly defined agricultural and urban zones. It is estimated that at one time 1,000 people lived here, but the city was "lost" for 4 centuries, never mentioned in Spanish records. The Incas obviously chose this site for its immense natural beauty, but the experts still argue about its purpose and why the Incas left.

32: The large rocks in the foreground are part of the quarry, which provided the stones for building Machu Picchu. Above the quarry is the Sacred Plaza with the Principal Temple (see closeup above right) and The Temple of the Three Windows (right). Behind that to the right is part of the main plaza. You can also see more terraces built into the steep sides of the mountain. The Temple of the Three Windows is famous for its extraordinarily cut trapezoid windows.

33: The Principal Temple is called that because the three-walled structure is a masterpiece of mortarless stone construction. There is some damage to the right rear corner as a result of the earth settling.

34: The picture to the left and the one on the opposite page show the main plaza, which separates the upper section from the lower section which was more residential and industrial. Below: Jeanie with her camera!

36: This rock structure is called the Intihuatana, and appears to be some kind of sundial. It is believed that it functioned as an astronomical and agricultural calendar. Every important Inca center had one of these vertical stone columns, but most of them were destroyed by the Spaniards.

37: C. Jay follows our group down a steep staircase. Machu Picchu isn't a place for people afraid of heights! We walked to the main plaza seen in the picture below and over to the two huts at the base of Huayna Picchu.

38: To the right is Sacred Rock, which has the same shape as the mountain behind it. This area was used for meetings and performances. Today it is a place where people stop to rest! Many of the other tourists we encountered were Peruvians. Note the lady carrying her baby on her back, which was a common sight. The Andes Mountains look beautiful from every view.

40: This is the Temple of the Condor. The dark rock above symbolizes the bird's wings and the pale rock in front represents its head. We crawled through the base of the rock and came out on the other side.

41: C.Jay stands in front of the Temple of the Condor before going through to the other side. We felt like Indiana Jones!

43: Above is the Royal Tomb but no human remains were ever found here. Hiram Bingham described it as having "the most beautiful wall in all of America." Below is the Temple of the Sun. It is famous for its rounded tower and great stonework.

44: Our guide (sitting in white shirt below) waited patiently for us as we worked our way down the steep stairs. In the picture to the right you can see the river and some white lines...that is the Hiram Bingham Highway used by the tour buses to bring people to and from the town of Aguas Caliente. It is a twisting, winding road and often the buses go around a turn only to face another bus head on!!

47: On our way out, we walked across the agricultural terraces. In the picture at the left, you can see some of the storage houses where they kept their crops after they were harvested. They had ample rain for most of the year.

50: Memories of Peru

52: We left Cusco and flew back to Lima where we stayed at the Country Club Lima Hotel, and had a city tour of Lima. For lunch we went to one of Lima's top restaurants, Huaca Pucllana. It is located in a residential neighbor-hood next to a mud-brick pyramid that covers several city blocks. The site has ongoing excavations. Pictured at right is our tour group. Caesar, our guide, is in the front on the left. Above Left: C.Jay and Jeanie are in Central Lima in front of a church that was rebuilt to withstand earth-quakes.

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  • By: Jean P.
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