In the ruins of Machu PicchuKeith and I reached one of the world’s wonder on the 4th day of our Lares Valley Trek – Machu Picchu adventure. This was my second visit to this majestic ruin of the Incas, yet it still took my breath away just like the first time. Sharing it with Keith this time was a much more magical experience.

“It took my breath away. What could this place be? Why had no one given us any idea of it? – Hiram Bingham, Lost City of the Incas.


Entrance to Machu PicchuOur first view of Huayna Picchu, the mountain that towers over the ruins, as we were entering the Machu Picchu at dawn.


The Ruins of Machu PicchuThe glory of Machu Picchu at dawn. Thanks to Hiram Bingham, the American explorer who discovered the ruins in 1911, we get to experience the marvel of the Inca’s royal citadel after being hidden for more that 400 years.

“The sanctuary was lost for centuries because this ridge in the most inaccessible corner of the most inaccessible section of the central Andes. No part of the highlands of Peru is better defended by natural bulwarks – a stupendous canyon whose rock is granite and whose precipices are thousand feet sheer…Yet here in a remote part of the canyon …a highly civilized people, artistic, inventive, well organized, and capable of sustained endeavor…built themselves a sanctuary ….” -Hiram Bingham, Lost City of the Incas.


View from Machu PicchuMachu Picchu’s location at 8,000 feet gives it a stunning view of the spectacular Andean peaks. No wonder the Incas chose this site to build their splendid fortress, which the experts believed to be a winter sanctuary of the Inca Kings to escape the winter chills of the Incan capital city of Cuzco.


View of surrounding mountains fom Machu PicchuMagnificent view of the glaciered mountain of Pumasilo from the ruins.


View of clouded mountain from Machu PicchuThe Andean skyline!


View of mountain peaks from Machu PicchuDramatic mountain peaks surrounding the ruins.


Quarry in Machu Picchu The quarry and the agricultural terraces. In the background is the Machu Picchu (“Old Peak”), the mountain from which the archeological site was named after.

“The ruins…perched on the top of a narrow ridge lying below the peak of Machu Picchu, are called the ruins of Machu Picchu, because no one knew what else to call them. “- Hiram Bingham, Lost City of the Incas.


Pathway in Machu Picchu

 A pathway on the ruins that offers a view of  peak of Huayna Picchu (“Young Peak).

  Terraces and Hut of Caretaker in Machu PicchuThe agricultural terraces and the Hut of the Caretaker of the Funerary Rock, which stands on the highest point of the archeological site. There’s a carved rock behind the hut believed to be a place to mummify the Inca royalty, hence the hut’s name.


Trapezoidal door in Maccu Picchu

One of the trapezoidal doors in Machu Picchu. Throughout the site, the doors and windows are in trapezoidal forms, the shape that is an emblem of the Incan architectural style.


Trapezoid shaped windows in Machu PicchuA fine example of trapezoidal windows and exceptional stonework that the Incas are known for. The irregular shaped stones are perfectly and so closely fitted together that you cannot slip a piece of paper in their cracks.


The Ceremonial Baths in Machu PicchuIt is said that the Incas loved water and the 16 Ceremonial Baths in Machu Picchu are testimony to this.


Water streams connecting ceremonial baths in Machu Picchu The Ceremonial Baths are linked by an aqueduct system complete with water fountains and streams.


The Temple of The Sun in Macchu PicchuThe Temple of the Sun is believed to be used for astronomical purposes. The window of the temple is perfectly aligned to the sunrise point during the summer solstice.


Door of Tempe of the Sun Machu PicchuThe opening in the Temple of the Sun.


The ceremonial baths and Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu

View of the Temple of the Sun and ceremonial baths.


Royal Tomb in Machu PicchuBelow the Temple of the Sun is the Royal Tomb, believed to be the mausoleum of the Inca Kings. It was carved out of natural rock cave.

We scrambled along through dense undergrowth…..suddenly without warning the boy showed me a cave beautifully lined with finest cut stone. It had evidently been the Royal Mausoleum. On top of this particular ledge was a semi-circular building…This might also be a Temple of the Sun. It followed natural curvature of the rock and was keyed to it by one of the finest example of masonry I had ever seen…Clearly it was a work of a master artist.” -Hiram Bingham

Sacred Plaza in Machu PicchuThe Sacred Plaza is the location of the two finest buildings in this Inca city which amazed Hiram Bingham – the Principal Temple and The Temple of three Windows. The Principal Tempel is the prominent structure in this photo.

“Suddenly we found ourselves standing in front of the ruins of the two of the finest and most interesting structures in the ancient America…The sight held me spellbound.

The principal temple had wall 12 feet high…under the seven rear niches ws a rectangular block 14 feet long, possibly a sacrificial altar or a throne for the mummies of the departed Incas, brought out to be worshipped…I could scarcely believe my senses as I examined the larger blocks on the lower course and estimated that they weigh from 10-15 tons each. Would anyone believe what I had found?”- Hiram Bingham, Lost City of the Inca.

Temple of the three Windows in Machu PicchuThe Temple of Three Windows

“On the east side of the plaza is another amazing structure, the ruin off the temple containing three great windows looking over the canyon to the rising sun…they were beautifully made with the greatest care and solidity.”

“…digging on the outside and below the three windows resulted in discovery of potsherds, pieces of vase and jars….it mush have been the custom to throw earthware out of the windows of these temple…Were these pots, then, offering to the gods?…Possible they were broken in the course of religious ceremonies or the drunken orgies which followed.” – Hiram Bingham, Lost City of the Incas


View of Sacred Plaza and the Main Plaza in Machu PicchuView of the Sacred Plaza and the Central Plaza from above.


Hitching Post of the Sun (Intihuatana) in Machu PicchuThe Htiching Post of the Sun or Intihuatana – it is a temple containing a carved rock pillar that the Incas used to predict the solstices of the sun.


Intihuatana (Hitching of the Sun) in Machu PicchuView of the hill of Intihuatana from above.


Ruins and zigzag road in Machu PicchuThe view of the zigzag roads from the ruins.  The road connects Machu Picchu to the town of Aguas Calientes.


Picture of  Machu PicchuMachu Picchu in mid-morning.


A llama looking down at the ruins.


Residential area in Machu PicchuThe structures in the central plaza.


Residential and industrial area in Macchu PicchuThe residential sector of Machu Picchu.


Ruins of Inca residence in Machu PicchuThe homes of the nobles are said to feature quality stoneworks…


Structures in Machu Picchu…while the homes of lesser stature exhibit more casual stoneworks.


Thatched structures in Machu PicchuSome of the huts with restored thatched roofs.


Contemplating in Machu PicchuKeith in deep contemplation (about the genius of the Incas maybe?)….


Orchids in Machu PicchuOrchids that grow in Machu Picchu.

  Inca Stairways in Machu PicchuKeith climbing the Inca stairway.


Visitors climbing the ruins in Macchu PicchuVisitors climbing in the ruins.


Visitors in Hut of the Caretaker in Machu PicchuVisitors viewing the ruins from the Hut of the Caretaker.


Traveling Solemates in Machu Picchu We left Machu Picchu as amazed and as intrigued as when we arrived. The more we saw of it the more we wondered. What were they really about? How exactly did the Incas built this incredible site. For as much architectural grandeur they left behind, the Incas did not leave any written language, something that would give a precise light about them and the creation of this sight. But I guess, every niche, every carve and precision in cut and placement of their massive stoneworks is their written language, their way of conveying to us that they were strong, they were exceptionally creative,  they were intelligent and yes, they were intriguing.


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About Marisol

Taking you on our journey one photo - and footstep - at a time.

17 responses to “Machu Picchu: Reaching the Royal Citadel of the Incas

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Jen, love that term “jonesing!” You definitely should. You might like to try their local delicacy – the cuy (roasted guinea pig)!

  1. Craig Siimone

    What an incredible place! Your photos made me feel I was there with you and Hiram Bingham quotes made me feel I was there with him as he was discovering the ruins! It was an amazing experience for me. Thank you

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Craig, I’m glad you made the most out of the trip from your armchair:)

  2. Kira

    What an amazing, fascinating destination. Wow…your photos and all the quotes from Bingham really transported me there. Another great journey! Thanks!

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi again Kira, we’re glad you enjoyed the journey:)

  3. Carrie Sieber

    To borrow Hirma Bingham’s words, “I’m spellbound!” No wonder they voted it the one of the new wonder sof the world. Can’t wait to get there one day. Thanks for the great photos and informative narratives.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Carrie, you’re welcome. We hope you get there pretty soon and be “spellbound” even more!

  4. Jan Sullivan

    Great photos! Seeing them made me more excited about my Peru trip. Can’t wait to experience the magic of Machy Picchu. Thanks for sharing.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Jan, I hope your enjoyed your trip.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Michelle, thanks for dropping by.

  5. Larry

    These are wonderful pictures that trigger memories of my travels and add yet more places to my travel wish list. This is the iconic backdrop that has to be taken upon reaching Machu Picchu. I have a family photo in that spot when we traveled to Peru in the late 80’s. I was in the eighth grade, missed two weeks of school, got briefly demoted on my wrestling team, and the trip was the most meaningful experience of my middle school years. Cheers!!

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Larry, we can just imagine the impression that the trip must have made in your young mind. You were lucky to have such incredible travel experience at such a young age. I’m sure missing 2 weeks of school and being demoted from your team must have been worth it:)

  6. Hi Marisol,
    Wonderful trip. we can definitely get some advice when we plan to visit Machu Picchu. Looking forward for more great trips from both of you. Cheers.

    • Traveling Solemates

      Hi Tennyson, let us know when you guys plan to go to Macchu Picchu and we’ll be happy to give you the advice you need. It’s a wonderful trip indeed.

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