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Machu Picchu: Facts & History

In this article we will explore some Machu Picchu facts & history. Machu Picchu is one of the world’s most spectacular Inca ruins. It is located about 80 kilometers from Cusco, Peru. It is perched on a hill top overlooking the Urubamba River valley. The Inca citadel is snuggled between the peaks of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu.

Melchor Arteaga, a Quechua-speaking local who was amazed by this collection of ancient ruins left in the forest, led Hiram Bingham, an explorer, to find Machu Picchu in 1911. Hiram Bingham was a well-known Yale University professor who thought that Machu Picchu was Vilcabamba. Vilcabamba was the so-called “Lost City of the Incas,” from where the last Inca rulers led an uprising against Spanish influence until 1572.

Vilcabamba was eventually discovered to be another ruin called Espritu Pampa. The ruin was thoroughly excavated in 1984 under the supervision of the American explorer Gene Savoy.

How Machu Picchu was built and other evidence points to it being a palace of Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the ninth ruler of the Inca, who reigned in the mid-1400s. So, it is thought that the royal family visited Machu Picchu as a royal resort of some kind to escape the hectic life of Cusco city now and then.

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Structures of Machu Picchu

What’s surprising is that Machu Picchu’s structures are still standing after all these years. Because there are several agricultural terraces in Machu Picchu with evidence of a higher-level water delivery system, it is assumed that the Incas farmed a variety of crops such as potatoes, corn, quinoa, and other grains.

There are many walkways connecting Machu Picchu’s countless palaces, temples, tombs, and other important structures. The Inca rulers appear to have lived in the southwest area of the site, near the Temple of the Sun, separate from the other buildings at Machu Picchu. The Principle Temple is especially significant because Bingham discovered white sand during its excavation. It is common in the temples of Cusco, the Inca capital city.

The Temple of the Three Windows, made of polygonal stones and measuring 10.6 meters in length by 4.2 meters wide. It is another noteworthy structure. It has three trapezoidal windows on one wall, the largest recognized in Inca architecture.

However, the Intihuatana, a sundial that resembles a huge stone block, is the most enigmatic structure in Machu Picchu. It might have served astrological or ceremonial functions during Inca seasonal festivities.

The famed Inca Bridge, a handwoven rope bridge that spans the Urubamba River at the opposite end of Machu Picchu, is accessible by a different path. This bridge is ceremoniously renovated each year by the community members.

Machu Picchu: Facts & History

Machu Picchu Spanish Invasion

However, the decline of Machu Picchu began with the Spanish invasions in the latter 1500s. The Incas are said to have set fire to Machu Picchu on their way out. They also destroyed the bridges so that the Spanish would never reach their wonderful citadel. Their plan was effective because no records of Machu Picchu being discovered during the Spanish colonial period.

In 1983, UNESCO designated Machu Picchu as a World Heritage site. The Inca Trail is still used today by tourists from throughout the world who want to see Machu Picchu.

Due to its magnificent collection of Inca ruins, outstanding architectural marvels, and picturesque surroundings, the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is also the most popular hike in the world. Even experienced hikers find Machu Picchu challenging due to its elevation of around 2400 meters above sea level.

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