Top Sites to Visit in Machu Picchu

Top Sites to Visit in Machu Picchu

A visit to Machu Picchu usually takes around 2.5 to 3 hours to explore the main sites within the sanctuary. Due to conservation efforts, access to certain areas is restricted. With a daily limit of 2,500 visitors, it can get crowded. However, the experience of walking among the ancient walls, doorways, paths, and stairs of this remarkable archaeological site is truly captivating and transports you back in time. Below, we’ll highlight some of the key sites within the Machu Picchu Sanctuary that you should keep an eye out for. Please note that the order of visitation may vary depending on your guide’s preference, but all these sites are equally worth seeing.

Intipunku: Also known as the ‘Sun Gate,’ Intipunku played a significant role in defending the city, acting as a barrier against potential attacks on Machu Picchu. Witnessing the sunrise from Intipunku offers an awe-inspiring view, and it serves as the first point along the Inca Trail where you can see the entire sanctuary.

Intihuatana: Known as the ‘place where the sun is tied,’ Intihuatana is a notable Inca site within Machu Picchu. It is a polished and intricately carved monolith located in one of the temple’s three windows. Its significance is evident not only from its position but also from the four carved vertices that represent the cardinal points. Visitors often report feeling a mysterious aura or energy when in the presence of this stone.

Phuyupatamarka: Situated at an elevation of over 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) above sea level, Phuyupatamarka, meaning ‘the place of the clouds,’ offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. During the rainy season, it is enveloped in thick mist and clouds, adding to its mystique. This captivating site features terraces, baths, and fountains with flowing fresh water.

Sacred Plaza: Arguably the most renowned landmark in Machu Picchu, the Sacred Plaza is a stunning area built into the mountainside, providing awe-inspiring vistas. It encompasses three important Inca structures: the Main Temple, the Three-Windowed Temple, and the Priest’s House. The Sacred Plaza showcases the remarkable engineering and architectural prowess of the Inca civilization.

Sacristy: Referred to as ‘the house of ornaments,’ the Sacristy was used by the Inca to store their precious adornments. It stands as one of the most visually striking man-made sites in Machu Picchu. The Inca employed extensive stonework to construct the three magnificent walls, while intricate carvings embellish the interior space and entrance stones.

Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón: Located near the ‘Puente Ruinas’ train station, the Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón houses a wide array of Inca treasures and smaller sculptures found within the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. The museum and research facility are divided into seven sections, offering a chronological narrative of the different inhabitants who occupied the surrounding sites of Machu Picchu.

Principal Temple: Situated at the highest point in the city, the Principal Temple holds great historical significance for the Inca. Positioned at the heart of the Sacred Plaza, which also includes two other significant temples, this temple showcases magnificent architectural design reflecting the styles of the time. It is a must-see site within Machu Picchu.

Ceremonial Baths: Scattered throughout the city, the ceremonial baths hold a prominent place near temple sites. These designated areas were ingeniously designed to utilize the mountainous terrain for channeling fresh water over walls and into the bathing areas. The baths served as social and community spaces, where people would gather and interact.

Royal Tomb and the Temple of Three Windows: The Royal Tomb, accompanied by the three windows within, symbolizes the Inca emperors who once ruled over the city. The significance of the three windows in the tomb remains a subject of debate among scholars, with various theories attempting to unravel their meaning and purpose.

Prison Group: Also known as the Central Plaza, this lush grassy plain stands out amidst the surrounding stone walls, resembling an island in a sea of slate gray. Animal lovers will delight in spotting llamas and other grazing animals roaming these picturesque pastures. However, at the lowest point of the plaza lies the Prison Group, a network of passages and cells that burrow under the stone, creating a sense of claustrophobia and discomfort. The name reflects the oppressive atmosphere of these long corridors and tiny stone rooms.

Temple of the Condor: A splendid display of Inca craftsmanship, the Temple of the Condor showcases their mastery of stonework. The name derives from the natural rock formation resembling a condor in flight. Despite weathering over centuries, this stone holds deep symbolic meaning for the Inca, representing spirituality and elevated consciousness.

Temple of the Sun: Located within an urbanized section of Machu Picchu, the Temple of the Sun is an extraordinary testament to Inca design and structural engineering. Positioned at a higher altitude, the temple was strategically placed to emphasize its celestial associations, as higher structures were believed to possess a closer connection to the Sun. This location played a vital role in astrological observations and religious ceremonies. With its circular arrangement of sacred stones and breathtaking design, the temple harmoniously integrates with its awe-inspiring natural surroundings.

If you’re already captivated by the allure of Machu Picchu and eager to embark on a world-class journey, you can learn more about booking a trip with The Explorer’s Passage by clicking here.


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