The temple of the Sun


Only priests and other high ranking Incas were likely only permitted access into the Temple of the Sun, one of the most sacred temples in all of Machu Picchu.

Adapted to the natural environment, the unique semi-circular construction of the temple is built over an enormous granite rock and there’s a tower with a trapezoidal window. In this sacred temple, it’s believed that Incas worshipped their Sun God, Inti and may have served as a royal tomb.

The Temple of the Sun may have likely served other purposes:

Solar Observatory

A trapezoid window of the Temple of the Sun was positioned along its curved wall to capture sunlight during the winter solstice on June 21st.

Sacrifice Center

Inca priests were in charge of performing sacrificial ceremonies. By killing animals, and reading his stomach and lungs, they could see the future and prevent any kind of disaster.

The locality of the Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu was strategic because the Incas thought that at the highest point they were in the best location to reach the sky and perform rituals and ceremonies to honor their Gods.

According to studies made by Hiram Bingham, the Temple of the Sun has resemblance to the Koricancha, or the Temple of the Sun, in Cusco where the Inca worshiped Inti, the Sun God. Bingham concluded that the two windows within the Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu were related to the summer and winter solstices, the longest and shortest days of the year.

By observing the movement of the sun and the positions of the night stars from the Temple, the Inca likely applied what they saw to make better decisions about the best time to grow crops and useful tips for harvest.


According to legend, the town of El Dorado (The Golden Town) was in Machu Picchu, but other legends point that El Dorado was in Colombia, far away from the Sanctuary.

Inside of the Temple of the Sun, there is a stone that in time of the Inca was lilkely used as an altar where priests performed rituals and sacrifices, and offering the sacred drink of the Incas, chicha.

One of the sides of the temple is known as La Casa de la Ñusta (Home of the Princess) although according to studies, no princess lived there. It is a building with an extraordinary structure, with many doors and niches.

The Mausoleum

There is a natural cave under the Temple of the Sun, Originally, it was believed that this cave may have contained the remains of the Inca Pachacutec, but more recent studies indicate that the space was likely used to do ceremonies in honor of Mother Earth (Pachamama).

Expand your understanding about the Religious Significance in Machu Picchu. 

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Machu Picchu Gateway