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The mysterious face and symbols of Machu Picchu

machu picchu

The mysterious face and symbols of Machu Picchu

For most travelers, simply seeing the jaw-dropping site of Machu Picchu is a once in a lifetime event in itself. What makes this experience even more enjoyable however is the mysterious Machu Picchu face or Inca face, symbols and rock structures that can be found in the ruins of the city.

Machu Picchu is actually packed full of hidden symbols such as the Machu Picchu silhouette, The sacred rock of Machu Picchu, and the Temple of the Condor. These hidden mysteries give us insight into the Inca beliefs and life and also help answer the question – What did Machu Picchu originally look like? The following article delves into this and provides great insight into this subject – enjoy!

The mysterious face and symbols of Machu Picchu: 


Mirroring the landscape – mountain shaped rocks

As you will undoubtedly know, Machu Picchu is surrounded by a ring of immense mountains. These mountains are truly magnificent and to gaze upon them with your own eyes is just as impressive and meaningful as seeing the ancient city itself. When traveling along the Inca Trail you are transported to another world where nature reigns supreme. The Incas shared this love of nature and therefore carved various different parts of Machu Picchu to mirror its surroundings.

machu picchu

The Sacred Rock

This is the most famous and iconic of the Machu Picchu mountain rock carvings and has been preserved in a fantastic condition. Stretching for 25ft, this rock is a must-see and has its own pedestal. At first glimpse, you may think this is a normal rock; on closer inspection of the outline, however, you can clearly see that this rock has been carved to resemble the peaks of the Yanantin Mountain and its surrounding counterparts.

machu picchu

Mountain Houses

In a similar fashion to the sacred rock, many of the residential homes of Machu Picchu have also been modeled after the surrounding mountain landscape. It is clear that the Incas revered their surroundings and wanted to display their appreciation of these monumental mountains they called home. If you wander into the residential area, you will notice that many of the houses have triangularly shaped tops – if you look behind these buildings, you will see mountains that mirror those triangular shapes perfectly.

Homage to nature – The Llama in the wall & Temple of the Condor

The Inca civilization had various animals that they revered and they actually only kept llamas, alpacas and guinea pigs domesticated. It is not surprising therefore that Machu Picchu has various animal symbols hidden in its structures. There are two standout symbols:

The Llama in the wall

machu picchu

Llamas are one of the hardiest and unique animals that live in the Andes Mountain Range. The Incas domesticated these animals and used them for various different functions and they still live in and around Machu Picchu. The Llama in the Wall is the most famous hidden animal symbol and is another must-see when visiting this iconic location. As with many of the other symbols within the Machu Picchu walls, at first glance, it may look like a simple wall section. However, if you study the outline, you can clearly see the body, long neck, head and ears of a llama – the shape is unmistakable.

Machu Picchu Temple of the Condor

The Condor is a bird that can be found across Peru, Chile, and Argentina. One of the most fantastic symbols within Machu Picchu is actually that of a Condor in flight. At first glimpse, you can see the outline and beak of a Condor on the floor – it appears as if the bird has no wings, however. If you tilt your head 90 degrees and look up from the floor you may be surprised – the wings have been carved from two immense rocks and clearly show the bird in full flight.

Human depiction – The sleeping woman

Throughout Machu Picchu, it is clear that the designers and inhabitants wanted to leave behind symbolism and show pay homage to the human form. One of the best known hidden symbols of the city is undoubtedly the fabled sleeping woman. If you look at this carved rock formation you may simply think it is worn away and eroded – but if you catch it at the right angle, you will be amazed! The clear outline of a woman’s bosom, leading up to her head including her nose and eyes is visible.

Furthermore, scientists have actually taken samples of the rock and found traces of gold. This points towards the sleeping woman being entirely covered in the precious metal. Can you imagine what this original statue may have looked like? A beautiful sleeping woman glinting in the sun – her eyes turned towards the heavens?

Life and death – The face of life and death & The fetal man

The Incas believed in an afterlife and considered the cycle of life and death to be hugely important. Furthermore, their funeral procedures and rituals were considered sacred and carried out with the greatest of respect and care. To that end, you can find a myriad of symbols and statues the revere this cycle within Machu Picchu.

The faces of life and death

There is a large rock on the outer parts of the ancient city that is revered by the locals. Some people climb over this rock; unaware of its significance. If you look at the rock however from beneath you will understand why it is so important. From one side of the rock, it looks like a happy, smiling face – a face of life and vitality. However, if you look at the other side, the face appears to be sad and almost as if it is embracing death.

The fetal man

Traditional Inca burials involved moving the deceased into a fetal position. This positioning was used to represent the belief of a second coming i.e. a re-birth into a new-born baby. There is a rock that clearly shows a man in this scared position and is obviously used to represent the cycle of life and death.

As you can see, if you delve a little deeper below the surface of the Machu Picchu rocks you can see a whole different story. This magnificent retreat high up in the Andean mountains is packed full of hidden surprises and symbolism – the Machu Picchu mysteries are often what draws people to this hidden location. If you are planning an adventure across the Inca Trail to see this wonder of the ancient world be sure to look out for the symbols and try to imagine what Machu Picchu looked like during its days of glory.

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