Why is Machu Picchu so important? Part 1 The Ashlar

I’ve never been to Machu Picchu, so no spoiler ahead!

When you never been there before maybe you make yourself this question? but really, what about this place? I remember talking with a friend who visited it and she told me that: “it’s a pile of rock scattered all around the mountain”. And that was kind of my opinion too. But then I decided I have to make a more focused research especially reading the people who really studied and still do, the archeological site.

And then I found myself surrounded by some facts about the citadel that really make it so interesting and important to know. I’ll be sharing a series of articles about what I think is really important to know about the site just before one day in your lifetime visit it.



I’m going to start up with something really amazing for me. the method the inca buildings were actually built. Have you read somewhere in the net that is impossible to put a needle in between the blocks of Machu picchu? that is called Ashlar.

But why is that? the Ashlar is a masonry technique used hundred of years ago mainly in  egyptian, greek and Peruvian cultures. At the beginning it’s just a solid giant block of rock bring out from the quarry that later will be carved for the real heroes of this story: The Inca Stoneworkers.

To transform these big blogs into small usable ones; the stoneworkers who design these blocks with parallel, smooth faces that later will perfectly fit together, they need a lot of time. And a very detailed work with bronze tools and harder rocksremember the incas didn’t know the iron. I even read once something about that based on the tool marks in the stones of the citadel, the stones were pounded into shape and not really cut them. Another tool they didn’t have was the wheel; so how they could possibly move stones as heavy as 50 tons? They used ropes, logs, levers and ramps. Even today you can still see small protuberance to grab the rock and move it.

Then when you are going to build the resulting wall is strong and really tough and almost unshakeable; this is one of the main reasons why Machu Picchu has endured the time pass by, climatic phenomena and the frequent earthquakes in the valley.

Twelve Angle Stone

A couple of others examples of inca Ashlar are Sacsayhuaman and the really world famous: the 12 angled stone. have you heard about it? This stone is object of pride for the people of cusco. I heard once a City tour Guide make a real good joke about the wall where is this famous stone, without mortar and earthquakes resistant, and a wall next to it built by the spanish conquerors. As always, the inca wall is now part of a spanish construction; The Archbishop’s palace. By the way..Sorry I don’t remember the joke.

You May like to Visit The Sacsayhuaman fortress together with all the landmarks in Cusco and see What we are talking about.

So the question that come to my mind is: How did they learn all this Ashlar thing? how did they know about that?

Tiwanaku Site, Bolivia

Near the lake Titicaca, in the border between Peru and Bolivia there is a Pre Columbian archaeological site named  Tiwanaku. This place is one of the largest site of South America. The place s still covered by ceramics, structures and megalithic blocks. This civilization influenced to the inca arquitectonic knowledge. According to  Graziano Gasparini “the Incas were impressed by these monuments and employed large numbers of stoneworkers from nearby regions in the construction of their own buildings”. Beside, There are formal  similarities between Tiwanaku and Inca architecture: the use of cut and polished stone blocks, as well as of double jambs.

Understand the way Incas manage such a huge empire and even has the time  to built a city like Machu Picchu show the greatness of this culture. But the way they built their cities, literally granite block by Yucay limestone block really give us an idea how much hard work was used.