Machu Picchu was built by the Inca Empire on the eastern slopes of the Andes. It is part of the upper Amazon basin in Peru. Since 1983, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, which is sometimes written as Machupijchu, is a place with old Inca ruins.
It is about 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Cuzco, Peru, in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba of the Andes Mountains. Machu Picchu is situated between two high peaks on a narrow saddle above the Urubamba River basin.
Machu Picchu Facts and History
Machu Picchu (Old Peak) and Huayna Picchu (New Peak) are both 7,710 feet (2,350 meters) high. The total area is about 326 km², and the ruins take up about 5 km². One of the few large pre-Columbian ruins that have been found in almost perfect shape.
Even though the Spaniards didn’t find it, a German explorer named Augusto Berns may have been there in 1867. But most people in the West didn’t know about it until 1911, when Hiram Bingham, a professor at Yale University, “discovered” it. He was shown the way by Melchor Arteaga, a local who spoke Quechua.
Is Machu Picchu a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Bingham was looking for Vilcabamba (Vilcapampa), the “lost capital of the Incas,” From 1572 to 1572, the last Inca kings led a revolt against Spanish rule in that area. In 1912, he showed information from excavations at Machu Picchu that Yale University and the National Geographic Society had paid for. Most people no longer agree that this is how he meant to explain why he called the place Vilcabamba.
Even though this is true, many publications still use Bingham’s words and call Machu Picchu the “lost metropolis of the Incas.” Later, Vilcabamba was connected to Espiritu Pampa, another ruin that Bingham had found. In 1964, American explorer Gene Savoy led a lot of exploration in the Espiritu Pampa area. The place had changed a lot, and trees were growing everywhere. Savoy, on the other hand, found the remains of 300 Inca homes and 50 or more other buildings. These have large terraces, which show that Espiritu Pampa used to be a much bigger town.
Machu Picchu History
Machu Picchu has been dug up many times. It was dug up by Bingham in 1915, the Peruvian archaeologist Luis E. Valcarcel in 1934, and Paul Fejos in 1940 and 1941. More discoveries in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba have shown that Machu Picchu was one of many “pucaras” (fortified fortifications), “tambos” (travelers’ barracks or inns), and “signal towers” along the wide Inca foot road.
Most likely, the houses at Machu Picchu were built and lived in between the mid-1500s and the early to mid-1600s. Then, Pachacuti Yupanqui, who was king of the Incas from 1438 to 1471, built the Machu Picchu complex. From the way it was built and other signs, this is clear.
In 1912, dozens of skeletons were found there. Most of them were first thought to be women. Bingham says that the Virgins of the Sun, who were also called the Chosen Women, felt safe at Machu Picchu. They were the best women in Inca society.
But at the beginning of the 21st century, technology could recognize a large number of men and a wide range of physical traits. Scholars think that Machu Picchu was a royal retreat based on the bones and other things that have been found there. No one knows why the site was abandoned, but a lack of water could have been a reason.
Machu Picchu Facts
The layout of the ruin and how well it has been kept are both impressive. On three sides, it is surrounded by dozens of terraced farms that were once watered by an aqueduct system. When Bingham came to the area in 1911, Indians were still living on some of the terraces.
The plazas, living areas, terraces, the cemetery, and main buildings are all connected by walkways made of stone blocks and footholds cut into the rock below. At the north-central end of the site is the main plaza, which is separated in part by large terraces. At the southeast end, there is one formal entrance that leads to the Inca Trail.
A few of the white granite buildings at Machu Picchu have stonework as well-made as that in Cuzco, but a few stand out. In the southern half of the ruin is the Sacred Rock, which is also called the Temple of the Sun. This part of the ruin was called the Mausoleum by Bingham.
It is built around a slanted rock mass with a small cave. Some of the uneven parts are filled in with cut stone walls. The Military Tower is a horseshoe-shaped building on top of the rock. The Acropolis, which is a group of temples, is in the western part of Machu Picchu.
The Temple of the Three Windows is a large hall that is 35 feet long and 14 feet wide. On a single wall made of polygonal stones, there are three trapezoidal windows. These were the biggest windows the Incas ever made. It is in the southwest corner of Main Plaza.
Near the Main Plaza is also the “Intihuatana,” or Sun Hitching Post. One of the best-preserved ceremonial sundials in the world was made of a large pillar and pedestal that were carved as one piece. It was 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall. In 2000, when a beer commercial was being made, this part of the building was broken.
The Princess’s Palace is a two-story building with intricate stonework. It was probably an Inca nobleman’s home. The Inca Palace is made up of several apartments that are linked by a courtyard with special walls.
Machu Picchu Location
At the other end of Machu Picchu, another path leads to the famous Inca Bridge. A rope bridge crosses the Urubamba River. Many more crumbling cities were built in the area, including one on the dark peak of Huayna Picchu, which can only be reached by a long, dangerous staircase and walk. Machu Picchu is the one that has been dug up the most.
Machu Picchu Tours
Machu Picchu is Peru’s most popular and economically important tourist destination. It draws people from all over the world. Because of this, the Peruvian government wants Bingham to give back the papers he took to Yale. As a day trip from Cuzco, you can get to the ruins by taking a narrow-gauge train and then taking a winding path up almost 1,640 feet (500 meters) from the Urubamba River valley. Few people are interested in the “Inca Trail.” Most people take three to six days to walk from the “km 88” train station to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu Altitude
It has tunnels, retaining walls, thousands of stone stairs, and other ancient engineering marvels. The path goes through a wide range of heights, from 8,530 feet (2,600 meters) to 13,780 feet (2,600 meters), and it is surrounded by different types and sizes of “Inca ruins.”
Machu Picchu has a hotel with a restaurant, and the nearby town of Aguas Calientes has spas with hot springs. In August 1997, a forest fire burned down the “Inca Bridge” and other parts of Machu Picchu, but rebuilding began quickly. Concerns about how tourism would affect the area were made worse by plans to build a cable-car link to the site.