Peruvian Inca Architecture:
View from the Mountaintop

Terry Marshall

Note: Peruvian Inca architecture is part of a series of blogs that we did while learning Spanish language in Peru. Each blog focuses on one or two language learning strategies. They are designed so show you how to implement Walkabout language learning strategies. Use our examples here for any language you want to learn. See the "More Peru Stories" list of links on this page for additional language learning strategies.

View from Wayna PicchuView from Wayna Picchu
Terry Marshall

We've entered the mythical world of the Peruvian Inca. A thousand feet below us, Machu Picchu sits nested into a mountaintop like (the locals say) a giant condor. It will never get off the ground: the base stones are massive, and the Incas fitted them together so tightly they're locked in place for eternity.

Up close, Machu Picchu was impressive indeed, and Inca architecture an engineering wonder. But from here, atop Wayna Picchu (the mountain that towers behind Machu Picchu in all those famous photos), we marvel at the Inca eye for aesthetics: the ancient city up close is a masterful display of construction designed to last the ages. From above, Machu Picchu is an intricate portrait carved into a spectacular vista of a seemingly endless range of jagged peaks.

Shawn and I stand atop a jumble of craggy boulders that marks the summit of Wayna Picchu. We took an hour and five minutes to climb the Peruvian Inca-built trail up this steep mountain. We had to stop more times than I could count to defeat the panting and to revive quivering thighs – though for Shawn, rest breaks were more from patience than need. ("It's OK to take your time, Dad. We're not racing.") Even so, we passed more than a few young Turks hunkered beside the trail gasping for breath. I suspect the Incas counted their climb in minutes and seconds rather than hours.

So now we rest atop Wayna Picchu. We breathe in a wondrous view of rugged mountains, of Inca artistry, of the tiny Rio Urubama far below. Snippets of awe – in Spanish, English, German, French, Japanese – float past from the dozen other tourists scattered about the summit. But most of us whisper. Or remain silent.

Peruvian Inca Language Lesson

Is there a language lesson here? My first thought is no – if anything, it's a cultural experience: the view sets us to praising the Peruvian Incas and their culture. The hike up Wayna Picchu is the perfect capstone to a Machu Picchu visit.

On second thought, maybe there is a language lesson: the view drives home the meaning of a Spanish phrase I already knew: ¡Que vale la pena! The climb up Wayna Picchu really is worth the effort.

Learning a new language really is worth the effort. If you need a helpful guide to craft you own personalized language program, check out the Walkabout Language Learning Action Guide. It shows you step by step how to teach yourself a new language. Click here to download it now.

--Posted by Terry, October 14

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