The Numidians were Berbs living in todays Algeria, part of Tunisia and part of Libya. They ruled before the Romans and when the Roman empire collapsed. Africa until the Islamization. They have left some huge mausoleums, and we saw two, one close to the capital Alger, and the other not far from Constantine.
The mausoleums were huge and I wonder how many tons of rocks the workers had to transport and lift. The one we actually visited was restored but was in rough shape. We could not go inside so we just went around it.
Constantine is a city in the north-east of Algeria. It is an old city, founded by the Phoenicians. It changed name and rulers (Romans, Numibia, Ottoman empire, French). It is named after emperor Constantine.
The old part of the city is on top of a cliff with a deep ravine down to a river. It did not have much water when we were there.
As a consequence they had to have bridges, seven bridges in different styles.
We crossed a few of them, and one was definitely for pedestrians only as it ended in a lift up to the street. It is the first time I walked over a bridge and straight into a lift.
The hotel where we stayed in Djanet actually was 20 km west of the town. It was more or less a chalet type with gangway between the rooms.
The rooms were in the doors, and all walls were rock. It definitely had atmosphere and was a new experience. The rooms were satisfactory, but not more than that.
I got up before sunrise to get some pictures.
The dining room was not particularly in my taste.
One of the dinners was a whole barbequed lamb. Well, it was a very grown up lamb and it was not very tasteful either, a disappointment.
Just across the street from our hotel was a huge monastery called Santa Catarina. It was for women only and had room for 400 in addition to servants, children etc. I had to revise my opinion about monasteries as this had apartments where widows with children could live and that were owned by families.
They had this sign asking for silence, but as our female guide said: It should be silence, but what can you expect from 400 women?
The apartments had their own kitchen, which with our standard is primitive, but was sufficient for food preparations at the time.
The water came from a well and had a special way of serving many people a the same time.
The water flowed down the central trough and could easily be diverted into to separate vessels lined up on the sides.
The apartments had a fairly good standard, not the austerity I thought was normal in a monastery. A very interesting visit!
Cusco is the old capital of the Inka empire and it was two ruins that impressed me as they showed the two very different masonry the Inkas used,
First the techniques as I saw it at Macchu Picchu on sacred buildings with evenly shaped rectangular stones. Remnants of an old temple was now in a cathedral,
The walls were not vertical but had an angle inwards maing door-openings and windows trapezoid as can be seen on the pictures. This was to secure the walls from earthquakes and it was proven effective as the cathedral had been damaged and repaired severaltimes while the Inka walls were not damaged at all.
The guide showed us a special corner.
He told us that the small piece seemed to go all the way through the 2 feet thick wall as it looked the same on the other side. He had no answer to why. The accuracy of the masonry is staggering. Remember they had no metals, except gold and silver and they are no good as tools.
I have seen somewhere that this wall has been called “the most beautiful wall in the world”.
The other “style” of masonry was illustrated on a fortress outside the city where huge boulders had been shaped to make great walls.
As I like to take pictures of the local people, I found motives around the ruins of the fortress.
I was a bit skeptical about Machu Picchu. Is it overrated, is it full of tourists, is it too much restored? But no, no and no. I was postively suprised and I am so glad I experienced this place.
I admire Hiram Bingham who redescovered it in 1913. He listened to the the locals and started climbing, and that must have been some climbing, steep, very steed, completely overgrown with dense vegetation.
We took the bus up, but we saw some who climbed the trail, 1350 meters up! The road had 13 hairpin turns and hardly any safety features, not for people with vertigo!
This pictures illustrate the steepness and height difference,
Machu Picchu was impressive and there were so many interesting details like water supply and drainage, retaining walls and terraces for agriculture. The terraces was filled with fertile soil carried up from the river.
But it was the masonry that impressed the most. There were two “styles” as I saw it : temples and sacred buildings har regular rectangular forme stones, while “secular” buildings had shaped irrgular sizes stones as can be seen here. First from temples.
Then from other buildings.
And then some more pictures from this mysterious mountain.
Another old dream coming true!
On our way to Macchu Picchu we stopped at a handicraft center by the road. They showed every step of textile production from animal (lama, alpakka and vicuna) to finished product.
The location and buildings were actually very nice.
We came in close contact with the animals and they were clearly used to people.
I was facinated by the smallest, the vicuna. It gives the most expensive wool, I was offered a sweater for USD 4000,- and declined! They live in the Andes at up to 5000 meters above sea level. They are beautiful animals!
The yarn was coloured with natural dyes, and it was a large varity of colours.
The last stage was the weaving, and the looms were fairly basic, while the colours were more visible.
They are definitely not afraid of using bright colours!
An interesting stop, I enjoyed it!