The Inca city of Machu Picchu, built deep in a cloud forest in the 15th century, is home to amazing architectural treasures. Among them are the Temple of the 3 Windows, the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the enigmatic Temple of the Moon. The latter, also known as the Great Cavern, stands as the hidden jewel of Machu Picchu. It challenges those adventurers willing to explore its mysteries.
What is the Temple of the Moon?
The Temple of the Moon, or Great Cavern, is a mysterious construction made by the Incas inside a cave in the Huayna Picchu mountain. This architectural gem, considered the hidden jewel of Machu Picchu, involves a challenging hike of more than 2 hours to reach its secret location.
Fascinating Details of the Temple of the Moon
Location and Access
- Located almost 1 kilometer from the top of Huayna Picchu, the Temple of the Moon is located in a little known area due to its remoteness. It can only be accessed through the ticket to Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu, turning off near the top and descending stone steps and wooden stairs.
Construction and Significance
- The Great Cavern, or Temple of the Moon, amazes with its finely carved stone structures in a natural cave. The Incas, fascinated by caves as portals to the world of the dead, created this temple with a central surface that some suggest was used for sacrifices. Although the exact function remains a mystery, its intricate construction reveals the artistry of the Incas.
Schedules and Recommendations
- The visit to this enigmatic place is by purchasing the Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu ticket. The schedules vary according to groups, being crucial to plan. The recommendation is to start the descent around 11:30 a.m. at the latest to explore the Great Cavern. Advance reservations are essential. In addition, following signs and wearing hiking shoes ensures a safe and complete experience.
Road to the Great Cavern
Challenging the Altitude
- The hike to the Temple of the Moon from the top of Huayna Picchu is a unique adventure. It is done at 2,720 meters above sea level, descending 900 meters by stone paths and wooden stairs. This stretch requires caution, but the reward of reaching the Great Cavern makes every step worthwhile.
- The breathtaking hike traverses the “Death Stairs” and other trails along the edge of towering cliffs. From the top to the Temple of the Moon, it takes about 1.5 kilometers in about 1 hour. Stone steps lead to the exit door of Huayna Picchu during the ascent.
The Temple of the Moon, also known as the Great Cavern, stands as a unique experience. It is a destination for those seeking to explore the less traveled corners of Machu Picchu. Its mysterious construction and fascinating history make it a hidden treasure. The physical challenge of getting there is exclusive to a lucky few.