This is a busy time and I probably won’t have much of a chance to blog so this week, and probably next week, I’ll be re-posting some older posts about a trip my daughter and I took to Peru. The posts are in two parts – one on the famous Inka sites (I use Inka instead of Inca), and another post on Peru, Cusco and Lima in general. I hope you enjoy it…
I spent about a week in Peru back in early 2011. It was my daughter’s idea as a celebration of her Masters Degree graduation and she invited me to go along. We did the usual thing…headed to Machu Picchu…but there is so much more to see in Peru that we both want to go back. Here are a few pictures taken along the way. Peru does not exist simply to be the showcase of Inka ruins but that is what people think of…if they think of anything…when the topic of Peru travel comes up. The most common reaction when we mentioned we were going to Peru seemed to be “…aren’t you frightened about going someplace like that?” Nonsense — Peru is open for business and is a wonderful place. This blog post will deal only with Inka-related pictures. The next following blog post will be a No-Inka-Zone photo posting.
Sacsayhuamán is located on the heights overlooking Cusco. I’m not really sure that we have a firm or correct idea of of what it (or any Inka structures) was used for. It looks like a fortress and that’s what most people tend to see it as. I actually didn’t go there because I was suffering from food poisoning from something I ate on the airplane.
Cusco (at about 11,000 feet) was the Inka capital city and was filled with palaces, temples and various religious or government buildings. Some were covered in gold. The Spanish destroyed or devastated most of these structures. But…old Cusco is built on the ruins and foundations of these Inka buildings. Higher quality stonework was for important buildings, temples or royal palaces.
Cusco is surrounded by Inka sites. The “Sacred Valley” is full of small and large ruins. It would be worth the trip just to tour the Sacred Valley sites and never see Machu Picchu.
Ollantaytambo is one of the most important Inka sites, mainly because of it’s spectacular location and the engineering required to build it, but also because it was one of the few places where the Inkas made a stand and defeated the Spanish. Some of the stonework predates the Inkas. Ollantaytambo is still considered to be a relatively intact Inka town. There are identifiable “quarters” where different groups of people lived. The higher you were in status the closer you were to the temple complex..
It seems like everyone getting off a plane in Lima has one ultimate destination — Machu Picchu. It isn’t very easy to get there and it serves as a modern-day pilgrimage. It took us several days of travel and acclimation to the elevation to finally get there. We stayed for two days.
Machu Picchu is the one place that was never found and desecrated by the Spanish so it is almost entirely intact as it was abandoned…plus the wear and tear of four hundred (+) years. Hiram Bingham was not the first outsider to find the place but he brought it to every one’s attention.
You can’t take too many pictures at Machu Picchu — every time you turn around there is something else unique in all the world.
Site guides will explain what the various buildings were used for but that is really only an educated guess. The Inka culture and society grew up without any sharing of ideas or concepts with other cultures in Asia or Europe. This is very much like meeting an alien culture — we are not exactly sure what we are seeing and can’t use old world labels or concepts.