Sectors in Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is divided into two sectors, at the northern part was the urban sector and at the southern the agricultural sector. These sectors were constructed on a natural division due to a geological fault.
As the only fertile soil in the area the agricultural sector was built in the southeastern part of the city. Built on the side of the mountain artificial agricultural terraces or andenes increased the area available for cultivation. To reduce the erosion of the land the terraces were built in two levels, the upper level was comprised of forty terraces, and the lower of eighty. The upper terraces were more extensive and wider and were the only ones used for agriculture and crop growing while the lower terraces were built to control soil erosion caused by rain. The Incas were expert aqueduct engineers; they built irrigation channels that circulated water throughout the terraces, while at the same time avoiding the erosion of the land. These terraces blend in with the local nature and seem to be in complete harmony with the landscape. The City Gate or Guard Post, Funerary Rock and a cemetery are also located in this sector as well as five buildings that may have been the living premises for farmers.
To the north is the urban sector divided into three districts: the Sacred District, the Popular District and the Royalty District. This sector was connected by narrow passages with stairs along the way permitting people to access structures built on steep hills. The Popular District is where the common people or the low class lived. Houses were simple and were built usually in groups of up to ten along the narrow streets ending in a courtyard or small plaza where they usually gathered. Food storage buildings were also built in this area.
As in other cities, the Incas always had a special place to venerate their Gods. The Sacred District is where holy structures dedicated to the Sun or Inti were built and it is believed that the population of Machu Picchu gathered in this area for religious rituals. The main architectural structures are the Intihuatana Stone also known as the “Hitching Post of the Sun”, The Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows. They also served as astronomical observatories.
The Royalty District was the residence of the nobility and priests and it is located near the Sacred Plaza. Houses were larger than the houses in the Popular District, they were aligned in rows and constructed on a slope. Different type of houses can be distinguished, the houses with red walls belonged to the Amautas or Wise Persons, the trapezoidal buildings belonged to the Ñustas or princesses.
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