Terraces, Machu Picchu
MP is on the peak of a high hill, so the city is surrounded by pretty green terraces. The steep terracing spreading out and down from the city compliments the geometric, angular architecture of the city's trapizoid windows and stately stairs and crisp stone walls. The terraces are useful too: they were filled with fertile soil from the valley for agriculture, and terracing also prevents landslides.
As you enter and leave Machu Picchu, you won't be able to miss the Inca terraces. What isn't obvious is that it has recently been discovered that these terraces stretch all the way to the river.
According to the guidebook we have, it is believed that theses terraces were not enough to support all the people that must have lived at Machu Picchu. I don't know if the new discovery changes that thinking at all or not. However, what I do know is that you have to take everything stated by a guide or a guidebook with a grain of salt. There is still amazingly little known about Incan society and much written and said is educated speculation based on only partially uncovered evidence. This is what makes history and archeology fun, but it won't satisfy those looking for hard facts.
For the record, my guidebook insists only 55 people per year could be fed from the terraces, so, therefore, they must have been used for ceremonial foods. But the next excavation could change that.
If you have traveled extensively through Peru, like I had by the time I had reached Machu Picchu, you will be by now familiar with the Inca and pre-Inca method of terracing. Such terracing was used for two purposes, for growing crops along the steep mountainside and to prevent erosion. As the upper terraces had wider "steps" it is more likely that it was here that crops were grown. Canals or irrigation ditches were not necessary as the terraces were designed to catch the rain which there is plenty of in the Machu Picchu region.
A great particular of Machu pichu are the terraces that you will find on his sides. The dimesnions of the terracces are very impressing... You can take a great view of them on the beginning of the Huayna Picchu trek, or on the MP side.
Terraces can be seen all over the Andes; this system is the better one to cultivate at a montainous place, and is still used nowadays.
Las terrazas se ven por toda la región andina; este sistema es el mejor para la agricultura en una región montañosa, y es utilizado hasta el día de hoy.
The Sacred City had an urban sector and an agricultural one, both built on the mountain, on terraces, the best system to work on a slope.
La Ciudad Sagrada está dividida en un sector urbano y en un sector agrícola, ambos construidos sobre la montaña, con sistema de terrazas, la mejor forma de trabajar en las pendientes.
The Inca had very advanced techniques when it came to farming on these mountain slopes and had quiet sophisticated methods of irrigation crops which were grow included Maize and Potatoes
View from the House of Three Windows area across the plaza. The foreground terracing separates the upper and lower plazas.
one of the most surprising particularities.....remarkable earthworks...domesticating the mountain!...a cascade of terraces!...hanging gardens!