There are few places in the world that I become a giddy child when I visit, but Machu Picchu is just that for me. This mysterious city built atop a mountain is not just a UNESCO world heritage site, but an example of history revealing itself to us.
We woke in the morning around 4.45 for a 5am breakfast and 5.30 bus ride to the wonder. The final destination of our several day hike along the Lares Trail, is one of the most hyped and famous global travel destinations, Machu Picchu. My first reaction was surprise at the size of the city in the sky. Yes, it is visited by hundreds of people on a daily basis. Yes, you often feel like you are being guided through an Incan IKEA at times, but it is the story of the architecture. How it was hidden from the prying eyes for so long. And what mysteries that are still yet to be answered.
After walking through the turnstyles, we were guided through the ruins, learning about different buildings, the history, culture and beliefs of the Incas. Significant sites like the temple of the Sun and sundial, altars of worship, the homes of prominent families that live here, and the Temple of the Condor. It was also believed, based on the bones that were found buried, to be the home of a largely female population. A female city in the sky. In addition to that, the walls that make up the terraces and structures of this city, were constructed entirely without mortar. Essentially making it one of the world’s most impressive jigsaw puzzles.
Just being in this place leaves you a sense of empowerment. Situated high atop a mountain, surrounded by lush vegetation, grandiose mountains and deep valleys below, archaeologists to this day are unsure how the Peruvians managed to build the structure. This site was hidden from Spanish eyes, and only relatively recently discovered by a travelling historian who was searching for the ‘Lost city’. Like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, he stumbled across an Incan masterpiece and shared it with the world.
After walking through the city and visiting the various temples, I spent my time here high on the hill, looking down on the ruins and imagined what life would have been like here, if I was one of the many female residents. What would their daily life be like? What happened before the city was abandoned? Why are there still so many unanswered questions?
I continued these thoughts on the Inca Train ride back to Cusco. Not all the mysteries could be answered today.