Machu Picchu, well-known as the “Lost City of the Incas”, is very popular for its archaeological artifacts dating back to the 1400s. The civilization was built in 1450 and said to be evacuated in 1572.
It’s definitely one of the most famous places in Peru. It is located above the Sacred Valley in Cusco region and is a part of the Andes mountain range in South America.
The Majestic Machu Picchu
Facts about its Popularity!
It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.
It was also declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007.
Machu Picchu stands tall at an altitude of 7970 feet above the sea level.
Even in today’s date, it is one of the most visited tourist sites in Peru. It attracts almost 2500 visitors every day, which also is the limit per day!
1. It’s said that the civilization was built in the 14th century and then was lost for 400 years. An archaeology professor from Yale named, Hiram Bingham, discovered this lost city on 24th July 1911. He later wrote a book named “The Lost City of the Incas” about his observations.
2. There are numerous theories drawn about what the exact purpose of building Machu Picchu must be. One of them says that it was the king’s palace. Some say that it was built as a pilgrimage site. Some also say that it was a place where royal ceremonies or important gatherings took place.
3. The Spanish destroyed all of the Inca civilization, except Machu Picchu, in mid 1500s. The civilization was built on top of a mountain almost at 8000 feet. Hence, it got away unnoticed and was saved from destruction. But, the reason of the abandonment of the city is mysterious and unknown till date!
4. The language that was spoken in Machu Picchu was called Quechua. It was only a spoken language hence there is no written proof of its history.
5. Machu Picchu means “old mountain” in Quechua language.
The Scenic Civilization!
The Amazing Architecture Facts!
1. There are a total of 150 structures found here which resemble houses, temples, separate baths, and even sanctuaries. The stones used here seem to be hand cut. Only a few tools were used for the whole civilization.
2. No wheels or animals were used while transporting the rocks. When examined closely, it was found that some rocks weigh more than 22 kilos.
3. The structures were built using the ‘ashlar’ technique. It means that the stones are cut to fit together rather than fixing them with mortar. The civilization has stayed almost 80% intact, with only a few restorations in the past. Also, it’s known to be earthquake-resistant. Numerous earthquakes take place here but the civilization holds its ground.
4. There were distinctly two areas – an urban area and the other used for agriculture.
5. The area includes almost 100 steps and most of the staircases were carved out of a single rock.
6. It also had a canal of 2457 feet long which helped both for irrigation and running of the city.
7. 600 terraces were built as a protection against landslides and erosions.
8. The three main structures here are called as Temple of the Sun, the Room of the Three Windows, and the Intihuatana.
9. It is proved that Machu Picchu had an astronomical observatory. The sacred stone called Intihuatana correctly indicates the two equinoxes. On both days, the sun is perfectly aligned with the stone without any shadow.
The stunning architecture complementing the breathtaking view
A Few More Facts
The peak that appears in the background of most Machu Picchu photos is known as the Huayna Picchu. It’s also famous among ambitious hikers.
Machu Picchu also has rich flora and fauna. You’ll see cute alpacas and llamas happily grazing everywhere. There are others like Vizcacha, Andean Condor, and many more.
A Spooky Tale!
Most of the porters here sleep with a mirror below them. Any guesses why? There is a legend which says that the spirits rise from the ground to take souls of people away, every night. Also, a layer of fog covers Machu Picchu every day in the afternoon. Something definitely spooky there!
Traveling to Machu Picchu?
There are two options to reach the peak - a hike or by train. 1. By train, it takes about 4 hours from Cusco and 2 hours from the Sacred Valley. The train ride is sure stunning in its own way!
2. The hike takes almost 4 days to complete. There are two hiking options to reach the top – one is the Inca Trail and the other is called the Inca Quarry Trail. The first one is popular and crowded but the second is lesser-known. It takes you through local markets and sites into the Andes range.
How cool would it be if we could get our passport stamped with all the places we visit, not only countries? You can get a stamp of Machu Picchu on your passport at the entrance. Who needs other souvenirs?
There was a very long dispute about who owns the artifacts, Prof. Bingham or the Peru Government. Professor Bingham and his team had brought back artifacts found during their excavation. The dispute continued for almost 100 years. In 2012, the artifacts were returned to Peru and are now kept on display in the Casa Concha museum.