Walking Through Peruvian Clouds: The People of Machu Picchu

Everyone says the Inca built Machu Picchu and the other ruins of the Empire. This is incorrect. The Inca didn’t build anything. They were the king class of what would come to be known as the Incan Empire but there were no builders.

It went like this:

The Inca was the all-powerful king. Benevolent. Ruler of all.

Maco Copac was the first ruler to be called Inca.  It was he who established the Inca Dynasty.

Tupac Amaru was the last Inca (Emperor) to live at Vilcapampa before being captured and executed. He was the last of an era.

From here, we have high priests, nobles, and generals. “The High Priest was nearly always an uncle or brother of the reigning emperor. Under him were two classes of priests, those who performed the most solemn rites being always Incas by blood, and those who officiated in the less important ceremonies being Incas by privileged, that is members of the families of powerful nobles whom the Inca desired to honour.”



Inca nobles distinguished by large ear ornaments that stretched the lobes orejones ‘big ears’ by spanish conquistadors

The Virgins of the Sun were priestesses of the sun in the service of the Incas, his representatives, and his priests. They were often noblewomen and the most beautiful of the Empire living in sanctuaries throughout the Empire. They were skilled weavers, their cloth used by favoured soldiers and throughout the empire. They were also taught to prepare beautiful food and beverages as used in ceremony.

There are the regular citizens and working class people. And there are the builders, farmers, and other ‘low-level’ employees.

For 300 years after it’s fall, Vilcapampa remained unknown to outsiders but for a couple Spanish priests who never made it out. The sacred site the builders had so craftily created was coveted and its secrets guarded. It was they who built Vilcapampa (Machu Picchu) and the other ruins of Peru, not the Inca. “Above all, there is the fascination of finding here and there under swaying vines, or perched on top of a beetling crag, the rugged masonry of a bygone race; and of trying to understand the bewildering romance of the ancient builders who, ages ago, sought refuse in a region which appears to have been expressly designed by nature as a sanctuary for the oppressed, a place where they might fearlessly and patiently give expression to their passion for walls of enduring beauty.”

I’m so excited to show it to you.

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