The Temples of Machu Picchu — The historic sanctuary of Machupicchu is located in Aguas Calientes district, Urubamba province, in the department of Cusco. This Inca citadel houses several temples that stand out above the rest and they were used as worshiping places for their main deities such as the Sun and the Moon.
What are the main characteristics of Inca temples?
- The worshiping sanctuaries of the Andean men from the Inca period, had an advanced architecture by perfectly interlocking the stones, roofed with straw(natural fiber).
- Depending on the type of temple, but if it was a temple dedicated for astronomical observations, the priests in charge of those shrines had to be knowledge about the sidereal space themes in order to determine the seasons of the year and thus contribute to the good practice of agriculture.
- Most Inca temples were built at elevated areas or visible locations to resemble domination over the other buildings and at the same time protection for the inhabitants.
- The Inca people had many temples dedicated to the sun, the moon, the stars, the lightning, the rainbow, the puma, the condor, the serpent, the pacha mama(mother earth), the pacha tata (the father earth or the rain), etc.
Before visiting Machu Picchu, check out all the must-know information below.
1. The temple of Sun
The Temple of the Sun is definitely the most outstanding attraction in Machu Picchu citadel, it is a semicircular building dedicated to the Sun God, it was erected on a huge solid granite rock in the religious sector, and underneath the solid granite rock there is a natural cave that was also carved to convert it into the Royal Tomb.
What is the most important place of the Sun temple?
Inside the Sun temple, right in the center, there is a carved stone that worked out as a shrine to the Sun. You can also see two windows, one facing west and the other window facing north, according to researches carried out in the 20th century, the windows were built to accurately observe the Solstices and Equinoxes based on the shade they projected every June 21st and December 21st.
Only the Inca emperor, the noble family and the priests were allowed to access the Sun temple for rituals.
2. The Temple of the Moon
If you already went to Machu Picchu and you don’t remember visiting this temple, the reason is very simple, the Moon temple, is not located precisely in the Machu Picchu Inca citadel but in Huayna Picchu.
If you wish visiting this awesome temple, you will have to climb Huayna Picchu, the hike up takes about 1.5 hours – 2 kilometers – Keep in mind that this hiking Huayna Picchu is very steep.
The principle of Dualism is very popular in Andean societies, the idea of splitting almost everything in two or assuming that each entity has its opposite or complementary side was very popular for ancient Peruvians, for example almost all the mountains had their partners, the cities were divided in two ( the Hanan and the Hurin – the upper part and the lower part), the Pacha Mama (mother earth) and the Pacha Tata (the rain), the Sun and the Moon, it was believed that the Moon was the wife of the Sun god, therefore she was a deity to whom the Andean people venerate and built many temples for ceremonial purposes.
3. The Temple of the Condor
This enclosure has a unique design, the head of the Condor is carved on stone on the ground, if you wish to see the wings, just stand in front of the Cordor head (2 meters away) and look straight ahead, only in this way you will spot the wings of the Condor which formed by the two big rocks.
Keep in mind that not only the concept of duality was applied by the Incas to better understand the functioning of the world, but the Andean Trilogy was also applied, for example the Hanaq Pacha (the upper world), the Kay Pacha (this world), and the Ukhú Pacha (the lowe world), each world was represented by a God animal, for example the Condor for the upper world, this is why the Inca people built a temple dedicated to the Condor in Machu Picchu citadel.
Underneath the temple of the Condor, there is a cave that probably worked as a prison, although this information cannot be confirmed because all what we know about Machu Picchu is from researches done in the 20th century, not Spanish chronicler documents.
However in most well-organized societies there had to be laws to keep order and justice, thus the Inca people also their own laws such as “Ama Sua” (Don’t steal), “Ama Q’ella” (Don’t be lazy), “Ama Llulla” (Don’t tell a lie) and anyone violent these laws had to be condemned to prison or even to death.
4. The Main Temple or “Wayrana”
This temple is located on the highest part of the citadel, in the main plaza, this temple is known as the “Wayrana” in the Quechua language which means “a very windy place“, this is because the temple was built with Only three walls facing indoor the building, and thus leaving one of the sides without a wall where the wind enters from.
Indoor this temple there is a carved rock that could have represented the Chakana or the Southern Cross, due to the carving shape on high relief.
The temple was used to perform rituals dedicated mainly to the God Wiracocha, creator of everything in this universe.
No Inca temples or constructions were affected by earthquakes, not even Machu Picchu citadel, however there was a geological fault that happened in 600 years time and as a result of this planar fracture the “Wayrana temple” was altered
5. The Temple of the Three Windows
It is an enclosure that is located in the very heart of the urban sector and is part of the main plaza of of Machu Picchu, this construction is a wonderful Inca masonry made by perfect stone polishing so that the can be assembled and stand on the floor for humdreds of years with the help of gravity instead of using clay mortar.
6. The Intihuatana
The Intuhuatana of Machu Picchu is located in the main plaza, it is a huge carved rock that has a height of 1 meter by 2 meters in diameter with flat surfaces that has 4 sides carefully carved, each of these sides represents a cardinal point that indicated probably the solstices and equinoxes produced on the stone surface because of the shadow.
The term Inti Huatana derives from the Quechua language and translated into English means “A place where the Sun is tied“, so as per the Quechua language and researches from the 20th century we can say that, the stone worked out as an Astronomical Observatory and a Solar Clock and the priests trying to interpret or decode these events had to use the shadow projections the stone at different day times and seasons of the year.