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Machupicchu represented a major challenge for Man against nature, as it was built on a plateau that emerged halfway out of a mountain. Peruvian historian Alfonsina Barrionuevo wrote: "its palaces and temples are suspended over the granite Urubamba canyon, hanging above the river."

The terrain is undulating and abrupt, which is why Machupicchu did not have the characteristics of a conventional city. The citadel featured many housing units scattered all over the site at different altitudes, separated by precipices and linked by dangerously steep paths. It is bordered by the mountains Huaynu Picchu to the North, Cutija to the South, Putucusi to the East and the Valley of Ccollipani to the West.

Machupicchu is surrounded by hills on top of the incas built ceremonial altars, stressing the ceremonial nature of the area, evidence of the major spiritual importance it had for the incas.
Machupicchu was made up of two sectors: urban and agricultural, although there were other sectors which were not necessarily inhabited, such as: Waynapijchu, the Temple of the Moon, Intipunku and the Raised Bridge.

The names of the areas were invented by Hiram Bingham, who speculated on the function each site could have had depending on its size, location and other characteristics.

The Urban Sector

The urban sector of Machupicchu was heavily populated in a difficult terrain where no an inch of space was wasted. From the peak to the base of the mountain there are traces of terraces and sporadic short constructions. This area was made up of the following sections:
  • The Main Gateway - The Temple Of The Sun

  • The Royal Tomb - The Palace Of The ?sta - The Ceremonial Center

  • The King?s Complex - The Sacred Plaza - The Temple of the Three Windows.

  • The Main Temple - The House Of The High Priest

  • The Intiwatana - The Ceremonial Fountains

  • Stairways - The Dry Moat - The Prisons

  • The Workers Quarters - District Of The Three Identical Doors

  • The Sacred Monolith - Terracing Lower Cementery.

The Agricultural Sector

This sector occupies the southeastern side of the city and is mainly made up of terraces, which is why it was given its name.

It is made up of the following areas:

  • The funeral rock.

  • The Guardpost.

  • The chamber of the Ten Bays.

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