Interesting Facts About Machu Picchu and Machu Picchu History
Machu Picchu is the most iconic pre-Columbian ruins in South America and one of the most amazing archaeological sites in all the world. It’s located just a few hours by train from Cusco, the capital city of Peru’s Andean region and a must-see destination for any visitor to Peru. It was once the capital of the Inca Empire, an ancient civilization which dominated the Andes region for hundreds of years and is still present in Peru today.
Machu Picchu is located in a remote, high altitude area near the Urubamba Valley, surrounded by mountains and hidden from plain sight. It was built around 1450 AD by the Inca Pachacuti to serve as his royal estate for hunting pleasure. It was abandoned in the 1500’s AD when the Inca Empire was conquered by the Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro. Nowadays it’s one of the most visited places in South America and for good reason; Urubamba valley is a stunningly beautiful region, with glacier-covered mountains, rushing rivers and lush green flora all around.
The Incas were natives of the central highlands of Peru who dominated and expanded their territory from 1438 to 1533 AD. The name “Inca” means “ruler” in Quechua language and they were called this because they had tightly knit control over their empire which they ruled with absolute authority. They were a pre-Columbian civilization which built an extensive empire, with colonies on the coasts of Columbia and Ecuador, and even established a city which they called Tawantinsuyu (The Realm of Communities) in what is now known as Brazil. At the time of discovery by the Spanish in 1532 AD, they held the largest territory ever known to have been held by a Native American people. Its influence spread from Chile to southern Colombia; North and West Argentina; and part of Uruguay.
Machu Picchu is made up of more than 150 buildings
Machu Picchu is made up of more than 150 buildings, all with different purposes. Beginning from the expansive Citadel and Temple of the Sun, all way down to huts and houses overlooking a valley below – Machu Picchu was once a bustling city.
In Peru, most people live in high-lying cities in mountain valleys called ‘quebradas’. Though it once thrived, Machu Picchu never really had much contact with the outside world for centuries until it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham III on July 24th, 1911.
It takes some effort to get there.
1) The altitude can take a toll on you, so drink plenty of water and take it slow. Just because the Andes are beautiful does not mean they should be rushed through at breakneck speed.
2) If you’re not accustomed to high altitudes, get acclimated by taking an overnight bus from Lima or Cusco – this will give your body time to adjust and become stronger before heading up there in the early morning hours…or anytime!
3) If you choose to go in the rain season, remember that it rains almost every day. This can make hiking difficult and muddy.
4) Take a few days hike from Cusco before or after Machu Picchu to get your body prepared for the elevation. I like trekking from Urubamba to Machu Picchu – it is beautiful and gives you an idea of the altitude change coming, as well as a little practice before taking on Machu Picchu itself..
5) Take it slow and don’t overdo it! I suggest going out slowly the first day, doing a morning tour around MP and then returning to your hotel to rest until lunchtime. Then head out to the afternoon tour and come back to the hotel by dinner time. This way you get a taste of what it is like to walk in that altitude, without being to tired and spending hours trying to get your body acclimated.
Ghosts Stories about Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, and also one of the most visited attractions on our planet. Every day, hundreds of people flock to this sacred site built by the Inca Empire in 1450 A.D. Some come for spiritual enlightenment, some to simply enjoy its majestic scenery, but many others go because of ghost stories that have long been told about this magical mountain top citadel…
Some of the ghost stories are quite tame. Visitors have reported seeing strange movements amongst the foliage, of things out of place such as a fallen stone found in the middle of a circle, a shoe on the roof, or even an audible gasp. There are also reports of whispering voices and ghostly apparitions seen in photographs or just fleeting glimpses out of the corner of your eye.
But these are not all! There are also some really eerie experiences that have been reported by local tour guides who work there every day:
One tour guide told me about a time he saw what looked like an Inca soldier wearing one of their traditional outfits standing in front of a small shrine located inside one of the temples. Curious, he went over to take a closer look. But when he got there, there was no one in sight! The soldier was gone without a trace.
Another guide told me how once whilst on his own around the area at night, it became cloudy and really dark all of a sudden. He took out his flashlight to get his bearings, but as soon as he turned it on, the whole thing just went dead! The batteries were brand new and there was no reason for them to die. He tried reinserting them but they still would not work. Finally, he went on his way without the light, and he got to the end of the path. As he was walking away, he looked back and saw that the whole area was lit up with a strange pale green light which appeared out of nowhere!
Later on in the day, another tour guide who also works there told me how she heard her own name being called out when she was near one of the tombs. When she looked around to see if someone was there, nothing was seen but some strange glowing spheres floating in front of a small temple nearby. Then she heard her name again…and then they disappeared!
There are plenty more ghost stories like these floating around about Machu Picchu.
The Inca Empire the largest empire in the Western Hemisphere
Spanning more than 2,000 miles from Ecuador to Chile and encompassing some 9 million square kilometers, it was larger than any other pre-Columbian empire in terms of landmass. The Inca Empire developed the most highly centralized administrative system in South America. The tax burden was lower than that imposed by Aztec rulers on their subjects, and the welfare services provided by Inca rulers were more effective than those of the Aztecs.
The cultural achievements of the Incas are impressive by any standard. They expanded their empire without war and kept conquered peoples loyal through the skillful use of political symbolism. They successfully assimilated a wide variety of ethnic groups, developing a common language and religion (the sun god Inti) for the entire empire. They imposed their own language wherever they went, but they also provided new subjects with a method of reproducing materials for daily use.
The Inca state was not warlike. Its expansion probably resulted more from the gradual absorption of subject peoples than from military conquest. This process was accomplished with an ease that surprised conquistadors when they arrived in 1532, just over one hundred years after the last Inca emperor had died in battle against rival regional leaders.
Despite their extraordinary achievements, the Incas did not create a significant record of their way of life until late in their history.
Machu Picchu has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site
Machu Picchu, this majestic Sanctuary belongs to the List of World Heritage of Unesco since 1983. Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca complex perched on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru. It is one of the most important archeological sites in South America and has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It’s also been rated as one of the New Seven Wonders Of The World.
Top 10 Main Attractions at Machu Picchu
- Machu Picchu Site: The Lost City of the IncasMachu Picchu (sited in the highlands of Peru, on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley) is an ancient Inca site that was built and used from approximately 1450 to 1572, before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. At an elevation of 2,430 meters (7,970 feet), it is situated 80 kilometers northwest of Cuzco and 2,192 meters (7,188 feet) above sea level.
The name is often loosely used to refer to the entire archaeological zone of which Machu Picchu is the best-known part. The Incas called it “City of the Sun” in the Inca language.
- Machu Picchu Main Plaza: Sun Temple or Ceremonial PlazaMain Plaza with its large stone terraces and its buildings, including the Intihuatana stone, are considered some of the most emblematic buildings of this site.
The Temple of the Sun, the principal Inca structure is known as Intihuatana (the hitching post of the sun), because it is said that it served as an astronomical observatory. The Intihuatana design consists of a central carved pillar that represents a truncated conical stone. It rests on a larger polished stone base and has a hole at its top.
- Machu Picchu Main Temple: At this location you can see one of the best-preserved sanctuaries in the whole site, Temple of Three Windows or Torreon.The largest and highest is in front, with three windows which allowed light to illuminate the small statue of an unknown deity that once stood there. The second is on the right side facing the first and is similar in size. The third window is on the left of the main entrance.
The temple has a small terrace on top, which might have been used for ceremonial purposes, as for example for human sacrifice.
- Machu Picchu Laboratory: Laboratory is one of Machu Picchu’s most impressive constructions. It can be found at an elevation of 2,400 meters (7,900 ft) above sea level
- Machu Picchu Tambomachay: In the southeastern part of the city there is an impressive carved stone staircase that leads down to the banks of a small river called Tambomachay.
- Machu Picchu Artificial Forest: One of the most interesting features of Machu Picchu is this perfectly-crafted artificial forest, which was built in the second construction phase, over Inca agricultural terraces.A series of fountains were used to irrigate thousands of trees and plants. The trees were planted in six rows and there were 378 species in total.
- Machu Picchu Inca Bridge: It is one of the most impressive constructions of Machu Picchu, consisting of a 20 meters (66 ft) long bridge with a central span of 5.5 meters (18 ft), supported by stone piers and ramps on either side. It was built to allow access across the Urubamba River which surrounds the site.
- Machu Picchu Hot Baths: These baths were built in the Inca-period for the treatment of medical ailments. There are four baths at the site. Water is gathered from a nearby spring and flows into baths that would have been used as sweat baths, to wash clothing or for general cleaning.
- Machu Picchu Prison: Prison or Sacred Cenote is an artificial well and a short tunnel. The well is the best-preserved in the whole site. It was built with fine stonework, probably under the reign of Inca Roca (1438–1464).This artificial well was used to collect water from an underground spring.
- Machu Picchu High Priest’s Grave: A series of earthquakes in 1940 caused a landslide to block the valley below, thus revealing this ancient hidden pathway on the southern face of Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail which weaves up, bends round and crosses the path (one end goes down to Wiñay Wayna; the other to Machu Picchu).
It is said that this trail was once used for sacrifices.
Their entire city was built without wheels to transport heavy rocks
Its amazing to think that the Inca didn’t use wheels to transport heavy rocks for the construction of Machu Picchu. Their entire city was built without wheels!
How did they do it? It’s all about how this mountain-shaped to their will and allowed them to build up, rather than build-out. The Incas were clever when building at Machu Picchu: by balancing their city on top of a narrow ridge, they could access the only flat area in miles with no need for new roads or bridges. This was an extremely difficult task and most architects would have found it impossible, but it is what made Machu Picchu what it is today.
The construction has been dated to 1450-1470, a time when the Inca civilization was flourishing. Animals were used extensively for transportation in South America and the Andes Mountains, so they would have been unavailable to be used in the construction process. Without animal labor wheel technology was also not discovered yet; human labor had to suffice for this task.
Machu Picchu means ‘Old Mountain’ or ‘Old Peak’
In the Quechua language, Machu Picchu means ‘Old Mountain’ or ‘Old Peak’. The history of the Quechua language is a long and complicated one, some say it can be traced back to the 12th century. However, Quechua only became an official language in Peru in 1975.
Machu Picchu has been constructed to withstand an earthquake
The Inca Empire’s most famous landmark, Machu Picchu, is a popular tourist destination for its scenic beauty. However, you might be surprised to know that Machu Picchu is designed in such a way that it has been constructed to withstand an earthquake. The construction techniques that the Incas used were revolutionary for their time and are still studied by engineers today.
They used various techniques such as ashlar technique, trapezoidal-shaped doors and windows, and diagonally cut stone blocks to make sure that the structure would survive an earthquake. The Incas even used gravity as a force to strengthen certain parts of the structures because they knew that gravity pulls structures down toward the earth. They used long walls and roofs as levers to hold up the massive stone blocks above.
The stones are fine-cut stones (ashlar stones) that usually have grooves and small holes in them that are used to hold the blocks together.
This technique was more common in the Inca region than anywhere else.
These stones fit with a very fine tolerance that it is almost impossible to notice these gaps from ground level. The reason for this precision was to ensure that during an earthquake, not a single stone would fall off. Based on their calculations, the Incas knew where to leave more space and where to cut a few more corners without risking human life or structure integrity.
It’s both fascinating and educational to learn about how these ancient peoples planned ahead for something we experience more or less constantly today.
Why Incas built Machu Picchu
The Incas left a lasting legacy in the form of Machu Picchu. And while there are plenty of theories about what it was used for, they’re not entirely sure. But don’t we all love a good mystery?
Just kidding, it’s not really that mysterious at all! It’s possible that the city served as a sort-of agricultural and ceremonial site. But researchers aren’t exactly sure.
“After more than a hundred years of scientific research on Machu Picchu, we still do not know exactly what its buildings were used for,” Exeter University scientist Dr. John Gowlett said in a press release. “We believe they would have been used as both living quarters and as a place of worship and ceremony—as well as to control the natural resources in this particularly inaccessible part of the Inca Empire.”
Whatever it was used for, its beautiful site is all over Instagram now! The delightfully green city sits in the mountains with grasses and plants growing right along wood walls and rooftops.