What is the Stairway of Fountains?

June 22, 2022 11:02 am


The Stairway of Fountains is the name given to the series of hydraulic water features found in the ruins of the Ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. It is an amazing example of Inca hydraulic engineering and was constructed circa 1450 to provide the inhabitants of the city with fresh drinking water.

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The fountains were fed by numerous springs deep in the mountains and provided water to the city. In the middle of the ancient city, civilization began to develop a system of water collection that provided the city with clean, fresh water. The system included channels, streams, and ponds. This water source was used for religious idolisation, rituals, and even for water supply.

In the agricultural sector, water from Fountain 1 flowed to Fountain 16. The channel ran parallel to the long staircase that leads to the Dry Moat. The Stairway of Fountains provided water for the Incas of Machu Picchu. This system was the main water source for the Incas of the site. In this area, the water from the fountains remained pure and accessible. In addition to providing domestic water, the fountains also provided a striking aesthetic appeal.

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These fountains are a testament to the ruins’ water supply. The water sources are almost one kilometer from Machu Picchu, and a permeable wall of almost 15 metres retained and collected water from the second source. Through a narrow 5-inch channel, the water continued its way to the city. There were 16 separate sources of water throughout the city. The four main springs supply the city with water and serve as the aribalo. Each fountain is filled with water from one of the sources and the fountains were constructed with spouts that emitted a single jet of water making it ideal for the filling of clay water jugs that were used by the Incan people.

The Stairway is an incredible feat of hydraulic engineering and entirely unique for that era and area of the world. Today we rely on a Hydraulic Power Unit to do the heavy work for us. Visit a site like //www.hydraproducts.co.uk/Hydraulic-Power-Units/Standard-Power-Units when you need to find out more.

The fountains featured a network of sixteen fountains with the first constructed next to the emperor’s residence. The emperor’s was still accessible to the public but of course, he had first use. A further 14 fountains were interspersed around the city with full public access whilst the last was located inside the Temple of the Condor and inaccessible to the public.