IKONOS Satellite Image (1 m) – Machu Picchu, Peru
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(Image Copyright © DigitalGlobe and Courtesy of Satellite Imaging Corporation)
One of the most famous Incan cities in the world, sun alignments are found throughout Machu Picchu. Many features, including the Sacred Plaza, The Temple of Three Windows and The Intihuatana platform, align with the summer solstice azimuth of 65-245 degrees. Scientists believe these alignments were primary considerations in the construction of the shrines. A shaft of light, shining through an east-facing window, reportedly illuminates The Torreon, or Temple of the Sun, during the summer solstice. The city was built between 1460 and 1470 AD at an altitude of 8,000 feet.
At its height during the 1400s, the Incan empire was the largest in the world, stretching 2,500 miles north to south and supporting a population of more than ten million people. The temples, extensive roads, elaborate masonry, and treasures of gold and silver associated with the Incas date from around 1200 through the 1400s. The city of Cuzco became the powerful center of an empire that spread to encompass more than 100 small nations.