Follow the Globe Walk adventure to our second destination – Machu Picchu – the ancient city of the Inca. Here are some interesting facts:
- Machu Picchu sits at 2,430 metres above sea level. It is suggested that you “bus hop”, a little at a time, on the way to Machu Picchu to acclimatise to the altitude and avoid altitude sickness
- It’s the most impressive archaeological Inca ruin in South America, a UNESCO World Heritage site (they limit the number of daily visitors). It is also considered to be endangered and has a no-fly zone above it.
- Machu Picchu is made up of more than 150 buildings ranging from baths and houses to temples and sanctuaries. The compound contains more than 100 separate flights of stairs, most staircases carved from one slab of stone. To stop the structure from sliding down the side of the mountain the Inca built over 600 terraces. For their time the advancements they made in structural engineering were unheard of!
- Each stone was precisely cut to fit together – so tightly that no mortar was needed to keep the walls standing; not even a piece of paper can fit in between stones. One temple wall in Machu Picchu has 33 corners. No animal power, iron tools or wheels were used in the process of excavating and shifting each stone. It is still a mystery how the huge rocks moved from the quarries (30 km), to the location.
- It was built to withstand earthquakes (much more effectively than modern California)!
- Machu Picchu was used as an astronomical observatory, to help identify seasonal changes and indicate the best time for planting and harvesting. The distinctive Intihuatana Stone found at Machu Picchu acted as an astrological clock and was used in ceremonies
- There are ghost stories! Legend has it that at night, spirits rise from the ground and try to take people away. To protect against this, most porters will sleep with a mirror or a shiny piece of metal beneath them. So, watch out!
- The Inca empire was one of the largest in pre-Columbian America covering Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador
- It is not exactly known why the Incas abandoned Machu Picchu. Evidence suggests that it was abandoned prior to the arrival of the Spanish.
- From the top of Machu Picchu you can see a human face in profile in the conformation of the mountain – the face of Inca (king).
- Llamas graze the grounds of Machu Picchu – and they will photo bomb your pictures!
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