Machu Picchu architecture: The buildings of the Incas explained
Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca city perched high in the Andes mountains of Peru. It is one of the most iconic and enigmatic architectural marvels in the world. Built by the Inca civilization in the 15th century, Machu Picchu is a testament to the extraordinary engineering skills and artistic vision of the Inca people.
Despite centuries of exposure to the elements, Machu Picchu still retains much of its original beauty and splendor. The citadel inspires awe and wonder in visitors from all over the globe. In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of Machu Picchu architecture. Thus, we will explore the techniques, materials, and design principles that the Incas used to create this magnificent site.
Techniques used in the construction of this Inca site
The construction of Machu Picchu was a monumental feat of engineering and architecture, requiring innovative techniques that were ahead of their time. The Incas employed a range of construction methods to create the magnificent structures that make up Machu Picchu. They also used local materials and their knowledge of the natural environment to their advantage.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Machu Picchu architecture is the precision with which the stones were cut and fitted together. The Incas used a technique called ashlar masonry. This technique involved cutting and shaping individual stones to fit together perfectly without the use of mortar. The precision of this technique is evident in the seamless joints between the stones. These stone joints are so tight that it is impossible to fit a piece of paper between them.
In addition to ashlar masonry, the Incas used other techniques to create the buildings of Machu Picchu. They employed terracing to make use of the steep slopes of the mountains, creating flat platforms for farming and building. They also used a technique called cyclopean masonry. This technique involved fitting together large stones of irregular shapes to create walls and buildings.
Another key technique used in the construction of Machu Picchu was the use of drainage systems. Given the location of Machu Picchu, high in the Andes mountains, heavy rainfall and flooding were a constant threat. To mitigate this, the Incas built intricate drainage systems into the structures, including canals that diverted water away from the buildings into the surrounding landscape.
Building materials of Machu Picchu
The building materials used in Machu Picchu architecture were an essential part of the construction process. The Incas used a combination of locally-sourced stones, wood, and mud to create the structures that make up this incredible site.
The most prominent building material used in Machu Picchu is the stone. The Incas used a type of volcanic rock called andesite to construct the walls and buildings of the site. Andesite is a durable and hard rock that could withstand the test of time and harsh weather conditions. The stones were cut with precision and fitted together using the ashlar masonry technique. Thus, it resulted in seamless and incredibly sturdy walls.
In addition to stones, the Incas used wood in the construction of Machu Picchu. The primary use of wood was for the roofs, which were built using a thatching technique. The thatch was made from local grasses, such as ichu, and was woven together to create a water-resistant and insulating roof.
Finally, the Incas used mud in the construction of some of the buildings. The mud was mixed with straw to create a composite material. This material could be shaped into bricks or used as plaster to cover the walls. The mud bricks were used to create small structures, such as storage units and animal pens.
Design principles of Machu Picchu architecture
The design principles of Machu Picchu architecture are a testament to the remarkable skill and creativity of the Inca civilization. The layout of the site was carefully planned and designed to harmonize with the natural environment. Thus, the buildings themselves were constructed with both function and aesthetics in mind.
One of the key design principles used in Machu Picchu architecture is the concept of harmony with nature. The Incas chose a location that was surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, with sweeping views of the Andes mountains and the Urubamba River below. The buildings were designed to blend seamlessly with the landscape. Also, the Incas used natural materials and terracing to create a sense of harmony and balance.
Another important design principle used in Machu Picchu architecture is the concept of symmetry and proportion. The buildings were constructed with careful attention to detail, using precise measurements and symmetrical shapes to create a sense of order and balance. Also, the buildings were oriented to align with the movement of the sun and the stars. Thus, the buildings of Machu Picchu reflect the Inca’s deep understanding of astronomy and their reverence for nature.
The buildings at Machu Picchu were also designed with both function and aesthetics in mind. The structures were designed to meet the needs of the people who lived and worked at the site, with different buildings serving different purposes such as living quarters, storage units, and temples. At the same time, the buildings were adorned with intricate carvings and decorations, demonstrating the Inca’s skill and mastery of art.