The Main Temple is the most important construction of the Inca citadel of Machupicchu. It is built with finely carved stone blocks. It is located in the religious center, along with other important buildings such as the Temple of the 3 Windows and the Intihuatana. The most important ceremonies in honor of the sun god and the mountains were held there.
The Great Temple of Machu Picchu
The Main Temple is made up of three stone walls in a ‘U’ shape, a structure called ‘huayrana’. In the central part there is a platform where, according to the researchers, the most important religious ceremonies were held in the citadel. In the upper part there is a set of niches, seven in the central part and five in the side walls, where gold and silver objects were placed. For this reason, this construction is also known as the ‘Templo Mayor’.
It is located in the heart of the religious sector, right in front of the so-called ‘Sacred Square’. Just a few steps away is the Temple of the 3 Windows, another edifice made with finely carved stone blocks. All these structures had their central axis in the Main Temple, where the most important ceremonies and social events of the citadel were held. Currently, due to the passage of time and seismic movements, the temple is damaged on one of its margins.
The Priest’s House
Behind the Main Temple there is a mysterious enclosure called the ‘House of ornaments’ or ‘The house of the priest’. It is made with finely carved walls and several niches where gold and silver objects were placed. Research suggests that this enclosure and the precious stone ornaments it housed were closely linked to the ceremonies at the Main Temple.
This enclosure also has a stone carved seat. This one would be destined to the main priest of Machu Picchu. For this reason it is presumed that the place functioned as a sacristy. A few steps further back are the steps that led to the famous Intihuatana (sundial). All these structures were part of the most important religious sector of Machu Picchu, a citadel dedicated to the worship of the gods.
The rituals in the main temple
The most important religious ceremonies in Machu Picchu were held in the Main Temple. These are believed to have been dedicated to the god Wiracocha, the most important religious figure in ancient Peru. It should be noted that although ‘Huiracocha’ was the world’s creative religious figure, for the Incas the main deity was the sun (Inti).
In the same religious sector there were other temples dedicated to the cult of the sun, the most important god of Machu Picchu. In the Temple of the Sun and the Intihuatana the Incas left offerings in honor of the sun. In addition, the Main Temple held the most important social events of the citadel.
The religious sector of Machu Picchu
The religious sector of Machu Picchu is made up of the main temples of the Inca citadel. The fine carving of its stone walls shows its importance. In addition to the Main Temple, these are:
The Temple of the 3 Windows – Enclosure located next to the Main Square that stands out for its fine walls with three huge windows carved with great quality. Research suggests that they symbolized the three worlds of the Inca worldview:
The Temple of the Sun – Circular enclosure (the only one of its kind in Machu Picchu) made with finely carved walls. It has niches where gold and silver objects were deposited. It also has windows through which the sun’s rays fall, the deity to whom the construction of this temple was destined.
The Intihuatana – In the highest part of the religious sector is this typical construction of the Inca citadels. It was carved in three tiered levels with a superior structure that on sunny days, indicates the position of the sun in the sky. In addition to being a construction of sun worship, it predicted the correct time of sowing and harvesting.
More information about this temple
The Main Temple, unlike other areas of Machu Picchu such as the Intihuatana, can be visited every day of the year and at any time of the day.
The stone platform located right in front of the Main Temple could serve as a space where animal sacrifices or body embalming were performed. The Incas used to sacrifice llamas or other camelids in their main religious rituals.
This stone platform also represents the constellation of the ‘Southern Cross’.