The Temple of the Sun – Machu Picchu

The Temple of the Sun was a sacred temple that Incas construct to pay homage and give offerings to the sun; this can give you an idea of the importance of the Temple of the Sun, in a city that was completely built to take advantage of the sunlight.
The Sun was one of the most important deities of the Inca civilization, an important part of the life of its settlers and responsible for the development of things; so as you can imagine, it was beyond the reach of ordinary people. Only the sacred priests and the elite of the empire were allowed inside.

Where is the Temple of the Sun – Machu Picchu?

The Temple of the Sun is located in one of the most important areas of the Inca city of Machu Picchu in the Hanan neighborhood, in the religious sector. It is beautifully assembled on a huge rock of the mountain.

The Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu

The temple is built with granite blocks, which belong to the imperial Inca style (the time of Pachacutec). You can access to the place through a double-jamb trapezoidal door. It has a straight wall and a semicircular wall with two windows, one oriented to the north and the other to the east.
The structure is built on a natural cave, its walls are made of irregular stones assembled perfectly, like pieces of tetris; however, one of its walls has a perfect curvature of 10.5 m, giving it an amazing appearance.
The Temple is attach to a huge rock of the mountain, above the natural cave. On the back wall you will see a window with small carved holes, which according to Garcilaso de la Vega, probably had precious stones.
This window is commonly call like “the window of the serpent”; however, remember that  most denominations were placed after their discovery; and for not having a written history, you do not know for sure your correspondence to the originals.

The cave below the Temple of the Sun

This cave was a tomb, is known as the royal tomb, and only one person could be destined to a niche like this, Pachacútec (founder of the Inca city of Machu Picchu). It must have been decorated with gold and precious stones.

Inside the cave (royal tomb) you can find fine stonework, you can see trapezoidal niches of life size and an altar carved in the shape of a staircase, with three steps, which is the representation of the “Chakana; symbol that represents the trilogy of the Andean cosmovision Hanan Pacha (the world above, of the gods), the Kay Pacha (the world of people) and the Urin Pacha (world of the dead).

The altar of the Temple of the Sun

In the center of the temple there is an altar carved in rock, where religious ceremonies were probably held in honor of their gods, especially the sun god. The two windows and the shadow projecting on grooves marked on the central rock of the temple, they allow to measure exactly the sunrise during the summer solstices (around December 21) and winter (around June 24).

What role did the Temple of the Sun have?

Respect, to the function that could have fulfilled this place, was purely religious, it served as astronomical observatory where the arrival of the solstices and the changes of season could be determined exactly; this thanks to the strategic position of the temple windows.

Do you want to see the Temple of the Sun?

Book Machu Picchu tickets in advance and a good guide, you will need one to enter Machu Picchu. Remember that if in addition to the amazing structures of Machu Picchu, you want to ascend to the Huayna Picchu mountain, you must book your tickets months in advance.