Machu Picchu History and Discovery
It is believed that Machu Picchu was built around AD 1460 by Inca Pachacutec at the height of the Inca empire. Pachacutec is credited with the expansion of the Tawantinsuyo and the consolidation of power. There are many theories as to why Machu Picchu was built but few among the most plausible. The most common conclusion from experts on Inca history and archaeologists is that it was built first and foremost as a retreat for the Inca and his family. Machu Picchu was also a sacred center where the Inca and his family could worship natural resources, the Sun and other deities important to Inca religion. Understanding Inca history is a puzzle as they did not have a written language so there is no record of its history. Historians and archaeologists were able to tell us about their history by studying their artifacts.
Machu Picchu was strategically located in the ridge between Mountain Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu in the most inaccessible area of the Urubamba River. It is so hidden that not even the Spaniard conquerors were able to find it. The reason for its remote location is not certain but historians speculate that it was either for security or it was a special place to access the gods, or maybe both. In case of an attack by the enemy there is only one entry point which would have been easier to spot in case of invasion and simple to defend. To the Incas, mountains were specially sacred, specially snow capped mountains with its dependable supply of water. The site where Machu Picchu was built was surrounded by religious features. Priests noticed the movement of the sun, moon and stars and how they aligned with mountain peaks during certain times of the year such as the solstice. They carefully observed these events before planning the location of each building.
Machu Picchu was a work in progress and it is believed that it was built throughout the duration of the Inca Empire. The main buildings and structures were built while Pachacutec reigned from 1438 to 1470, successive generations kept adding to it and it was abandoned in 1572 when the Spaniards arrived in Cusco.
Discovery by Hiram Bingham
The Spaniards never found Machu Picchu, so unlike other Inca cities, it was never destroyed or changed, only a few local families who farmed nearby knew of its existence but not its significance. On a sunny day in July 1911, guided by a peasant boy, Hiram Bingham, an American explorer, accidentally discovered the “Lost City of the Incas”. Hiram Bingham’s expedition was sponsored by Yale University and the National Geographic Society and was in search of Vilcabamba or the “last resting place of the Incas”. The city was covered by vegetation, hiding beneath dense foliage and overgrown trees and its walls covered with moss, it was almost invisible. To his surprise it was in intact condition just how the Incas had left it 1572. Bingham had just discovered the ruins of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu was designated an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It stood hidden in the Andes Mountains for about 400 years with no maintenance and sign of soil erosion. Its construction was so innovative and ingenious, the use of drainage and materials have allowed the citadel to stand for more than 400 years.
Today Machu Picchu is part of the heritage of the Inca Civilization. The Inca ruins is one of the most visited tourist attractions in South America and the most popular tourist destination in Peru. In order to protect its national heritage the government of Peru has declared it a National Sanctuary. In 1983 UNESCO gave Machu Picchu the status of World Heritage site.
More information about Machu Picchu
Travel Machu Picchu
The Inca citadel is located 80 km northwest the city of Cusco, it sits majestically between the mountains of Machu Picchu and Wuayna Picchu in the most unreachable area of the Urubamba River.
Machu Picchu Architecture
Inca architecture is most known for its polygonal stones used in many religious buildings. One stone found in a temple wall in Machu Picchu is estimated to have at least 33 corners.
Why was Machu Picchu built?
There must have been a good reason to justify the laborious construction of this magic city in such a challenging land.
Machu Picchu Sectors
There are two sectors in Machu Picchu, each sector was constructed on a natural division due to a geological fault.
Interesting facts about Machu Picchu
A no-fly zone restriction exists above the area.
Significant Machu Picchu archeological sites
The most significant archeology sites are the Temple of the Sun, Intihuatana stone, the Room of the Three Windows, water fountains or pools, Royal Mausoleum, the Residence of the Priest.
Tags: Cusco, Inca civilization, inca culture, Inca empire, Inca history, incas, Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu Cusco, Machu Picchu history, Peru, Travel Cusco, travel Machu Picchu