The Temple of the Sun also known as the Tower, is one of the most striking buildings of Machu Picchu, and one of the few that have a circular shape. The function of this structure is still not entirely clear, but the singularity of the construction, its location, the position of its elements and its well-achieved architecture indicate that it was an important religious center and astronomical observatory.
- What is the Temple of the Sun?
- What was its function?
- Temple of the Sun as a ceremonial center
- Temple of the Sun as an astronomical observatory
- How to visit the Temple of the Sun of Machu Picchu?
- How to get to the Temple of the Sun of Machu Picchu?
- Recommendations during the visit to the Temple of the Sun
What is the Temple of the Sun?
The Temple of the Sun is one of the best-built structures in Machu Picchu. The American explorer Hiram Bingham gave it the name of ‘Semicircular Temple’ because of its shape. It is located at the top of the so-called ‘Royal Tomb’ in the Urban Zone.
Inside the Temple of the Sun there is a rock sculpted in the shape of an altar. Around and inside the ‘Torreón’ there are walls sculpted with much perfectionism. There is also a window that served as an astronomical observatory.
Hiram Bingham gave it the name of ‘Semicircular Temple’. The historians then named it ‘Torreón’. Over the years, tourists and guides would call it ‘Temple of the Sun’.
What was its function?
Due to the perfection of its construction (it is the only structure in Machu Picchu in a semicircular shape) and its location at the top and above the ‘Royal Tomb’, the Temple of the Sun was the main center of worship of the Sun in Wonder of the world.
During the Inca Empire, the Temple of the Sun must have been decorated with fine ornaments. Inside there are also traces of a fire.
Temple of the Sun as a ceremonial center
The ‘Tuma Real’ found by Hiram Bingham under the ‘Temple of the Sun’ was probably a mausoleum dedicated to the most important characters of the Incas. Moreover, it is believed that there was the tomb of the Inca Pachacutec. The location of the ‘Temple of the Sun’ above this place reinforces the idea that it was a ceremonial center of great importance.
For the Incas, the sun was of the utmost importance. Thanks to him, life could flourish on earth. Many of the best buildings of the Incas were temples dedicated to the sun. This idea is also proof that the ‘Torreón’ was the main temple of the sun in Machu Picchu. From there it was called ‘The Temple of the Sun’.
Upon entering the ‘Torreón’, the visitor immediately finds himself with the sculpted altar of rock. In addition you can appreciate some of the mountains that surround Machu Picchu. According to some hypotheses, a rock carved in a staggered way on the altar symbolizes the devotion that the Incas had for the ‘Apus’ (hills).
The altar carved inside the Temple of the Sun belongs to the upper part of the cave in which the Incas built the ‘Royal Tomb’.
Temple of the Sun as an astronomical observatory
The precise location of the temple windows suggests that it had the function of an astronomical observatory, the two openings located on its walls, one facing north and one to the east, letting in sunlight sunrise inside perfectly during the winter solstices.
The Incas devoted great importance to astronomical observations because they served to predict the climate and, therefore, make decisions about the planting and harvesting of their products. The Temple of the Sun was, perhaps, the main astronomical observatory in the Wonder of the World.
During the winter solstices (end of June), the sun’s rays fit perfectly in the window inside the Temple of the Sun.
How to visit the Temple of the Sun of Machu Picchu?
To visit the Temple of the Sun of Machu Picchu it is necessary to reserve the entrance Machu Picchu. There are up to 4 types of tickets, all include the tour of the Temple of the Sun:
- Entrance Machu Picchu Only.
- Entrance Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu.
- Entrance Machu Picchu + Mountain.
- Entrance Machu Picchu + Museum.
To get a ticket you must book online through a tourism agency or the official website of the Ministry of Culture of Peru. The other option is to buy directly in the city of Cusco in one of the authorized offices.
How to get to the Temple of the Sun of Machu Picchu?
From the main entrance gate to Machu Picchu you arrive following the main road that leads to the Casa del Guardian. From there it descends and crosses the route established by the tourist guides. After touring the Main Square, you descend through some stairs in the heart of the urban area. Finally we reach the Temple of the Sun climbing some steps above the ‘Royal Tomb’.
Recommendations during the visit to the Temple of the Sun
- Book your entrance in Machu Picchu with time. It is advisable to do it online, at least 1 week before the visit.
- The entrance to the Temple of the Sun in Machu Picchu is accompanied by an official tour guide. Try to choose one that reveals the mysteries of this fabulous structure.
- Do not touch the structures of the Temple of the Sun. Machu Picchu receives more than 1 million visitors a year. The overpopulation of tourists can wreak havoc on their structures.