Temple of the Moon:
An overhanging cave carved in the Huayna Picchu Mountain overlooking Machu Picchu protects this ceremonial temple’s entrance. The temple consists of a mix of niches; stone seating areas, altars and false doors inserted into the stonework. Archaeologists believe that it was built as a royal tomb, a place of worship, site for ritual sacrifices and a lookout post to prevent threats from neighboring regions.
Temple of the Three Windows:
This temple, overlooking the Central Plaza, was the main ceremonial area of Machu Picchu. Located on the Sacred Plaza in the main Urban Section of Machu Picchu this stone hall is 35 feet long and 14 feet wide and holds three of the original five trapezoidal windows along one wall. A short distance away, in the middle of the Temple, stands a rectangular stone, which was used as a back-sight for solar observations.
Intipunku (Sun Gate) was the main control gate for entering and exiting the Sanctuary and was protected by the Inca military. For those today, which wish to see Machu Picchu in the first sunlight, there is no better place to view it then from this site that connects this Sanctuary to the classic Inca Trail.
The Rock Quarry:
Sitting between the Sacred Plaza and the Temple of the Sun is Machu Picchu’s on-site stone quarry. Here you will find a boulder named the Serpent Rock, decorated with snake features and other sizable pieces of granite that were to become a stairway. Such pieces have led to the theory that the lost city was still being constructed at the time when it was abandoned and far from completion.
This ritual stone is associated with the astronomic clock or calendar of the Inca and was designed to admit the light of the rising sun before and after the December solstice. This structure is precisely constructed and is thought to have played a part in the annual Inca ritual, Capac Raymi, a religious festival in honor of the sun.
The Temple of the Condor:
A natural rock formation the Inca stonemasons shaped into the outspread wings of a condor in flight. Historians believe the head of the condor was used in ceremonies as a sacrificial altar. Located under the Condor Temple is a small cave where mummified remains were discovered.
The Central Plaza:
This plaza is an open grass area that separates the ceremonial sector from the residential and industrial areas of Machu Picchu. This central plaza played an important role in the Inca society and the segregation of its social classes.
Located below the Temple of the Sun, this hidden, natural rock cave’s purpose has been debated through the years. Commonly referred to as the Royal Tomb, however no mummies were ever discovered here. The tomb’s steps represent three levels in the world of the Inca. The first step, symbolized by the snake, represents death. The second step represents human life, and is symbolized by the jaguar. The highest step, symbolized by the condor represents the gods.
Guard House (Caretakers Hut):
The Guardhouse was a thatched roofed building constructed from stone. Soldiers used this building to protect the two main entrances into Machu Picchu. From the south the Classic Inca Trail through the Sun Gate and from the west the main Inca Trail entrance from Vilcabamba. Today it is one of the best places for panoramic views of Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu and the surrounding mountains.
Huayna Picchu is the towering mountain behind the actual Inca site of Machu Picchu. For many, climbing Huayna Picchu is one of the highlights when visiting Machu Picchu. The climb is interesting, as you hike on original Inca steps as you wind around the side of the mountain, enjoying views of Machu Picchu from various angles. Plan ahead for permits as there are only 400 issued daily with 200 guests entering from 7-8AM and the second group of 200 from 10-11AM.
Temple of the Moon: