10 Interesting Facts about Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is one of the world’s majestic and enticing handbuilt marvels. The ‘Lost City of the Incas’ dates back to the 15th century. It is one of Latin America’s largest historical sites. Not only is it bursting with culture, but is very friendly for the ambitious traveler.
Standing tall at almost 8000 feet (2430meters)above sea level, the world wonder attracts the mysterious soul. The Incas ruled over 10 million people. They were the last fully formed, indigenous civilization prior to Columbus’ arrival in the Americas.
Tucked well into the Andes Mountains, people travel from all walks of life to explore what makes this Incan city so intriguing. There’s a lot of mystery around its construction, purpose, and population. If you’re still questioning where to go in Peru, read on the find out the 10 interesting facts about Machu Picchu. Our travel agency in Peru offers the most memorable tours and trips, be sure to check us out.
1. When Was Machu Picchu built?
Although we cannot be certain of its exact date, evidence shows that the Inca Citdel was built in the mid-1400s. It was built during the reign of Pachacuti Inca. This was a golden time period for the Incan Empire. The population was built into a strong, wealthy, and reputable community.
2. Why was Machu Picchu built?
One of the interesting facts about Machu Picchu is that it was built for royalty. A place where Incan royalty would reside and meet with their inner circle. It served as a place where Emperor Pachacutec or Inca Sapa would retreat and entertain his family and guests. A place of happiness and prosperity.
Others understood the site was used for religious purposes. This was due to its strategic positioning amongst other religiously significant mountains. There is an excellent view of the sunrise and sunset. This supports the fact that the Inca believed the sun to be their divine ancestor. It is said that the Incas chose this location as it offered many advantages:
- A source of spring water
- The abundance of quarries of granite and use as building materials
- Natural protection against unwanted visitors and a garden of coca leaves in the valley
- A peaceful and spiritual ambiance with a gateway to the jungle region
It is said this is where the Inca Culture’s essence was developed and maintained. The culture embraced the value of solidarity, reciprocity, labor, honesty, love, and wisdom. This essence was spread along with the entire Andean territory, creating a magnificent nation, highly organized and culturally advanced.
Despite the remote location, the Andean terrain provided comfort, wealth, and prosperity for all. They were so successful in these endeavors that they overcame poverty, corruption, and misery while at the same time, kept profound respect for nature.
3. How Was Machu Picchu Built?
When we delve into the construction of the Inca citadel, many are left wondering how the Inca managed to transport materials up to the Andes Mountains, standing tall at 8000ft. Historians have confirmed that no ‘modern’ or ‘convenient’ methods were used during construction. The Incas made use of their best resources, themselves and nature.
Architects first drew their plans with the help of Pachacuti himself. As with any new build, scale models were constructed and base camps of operation were set up in the zone of Mandorpampa.
The construction of the Inca Citadel continued for around thirty years. Although the construction of this marvelous site took time, many of the Incas would carry the materials from bottom to top personally. This took up to 3 months at a time for larger materials. When its basic structure was finished, thousands of workers were free to leave.
For anyone planning to do this trek, you will have a newfound respect for those who had a hand in construction. Each stone was hand-carved against another to perfectly fit well within the compounds of the city. The stones were smoothed and even to this day, you cannot fit a credit card through its gaps!
4. Machu Picchu’s community
The city was built to keep royalty and lower-class workers separate. It was inhabited by a select few coming from Cusco and other regions of the Empire who came to carry out political, cultural, and religious duties.
There were different tiers within the complex that held different purposes. For example, urban, agricultural, religious and working quarters.
The terraces built within the city were so profitable that food could be produced for over triple the amount that was needed. This was certainly down to its position and water drainage system.
5. What does Machu Picchu mean?
This is one of the most 10 interesting facts about Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu or Machu Pikchu is a Quechua (Inca Language) word. It means “Old Mountain” or “Old Peak.” Broken down Machu means old or ancient and Picchu means peak.
The mountain that sits across from it is called Huayna Picchu, which can be translated to “Young Peak.”
6. Are Machu Picchu’s Foundations safe?
Another interesting fact about the lost Inca City is that over half of its construction was underground. Not only did this provide a safe home for the Incas. This also incorporated a smart water drainage system along with each level of the city- addressing any issues of rain or ground damage.
7. Is Machu Picchu prone to Earthquakes?
When we think of Peru’s position, the country is affected by earthquakes. It is a seismically unstable country. Both Lima and Cusco have been leveled by earthquakes. Machu Picchu itself was constructed atop two fault lines.
However, after learning more about how the city was constructed, the Incas had a very smart thought process to address any issue hit by nature. And the proof of a successful plan is the citadel itself. It stands tall and strong. If and when the city is hit, its stone might shake, but they fall directly back into place.
8. Who and how was Machu Picchu discovered?
In the book, Journey to Machu Picchu, Romulo Lizarraga, a grandson of Agusting Lizarraga. He lived in Aobamba valley near Machu Pichu had experienced the city in 1890. During his working day, he was clearing land for agriculture when he stumbled across a stone-paved stairway.
Upon following it, he noticed that lying under thick vegetation was the lost city. He returned with his family to show them the gold and silver he found. Despite his family’s suggestion not to upset their ancestral and mountain spirits, he sold some valuable objects in Cusco.
The most popular claim, however, is that in 1911, an explorer and Yale University professor named Hiram Bingham III went on a mission. He wanted to discover the Lost City of the Incas. It is claimed that he was in search of a different lost city, ‘Vilcabamba’. It is also known that time as the lost city of the Incas.
This was a hidden capital to which the Inca had escaped after the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1532. Over time it became famous as the legendary Lost City of the Inca. Bingham spent most of his life arguing that Machu Picchu and Vilcabamba were one. The theory wasn’t proved wrong until after his death in 1956. The real Vilcabamba is now believed to have been built in the jungle about 50 miles west of Machu Picchu.
Recent research has cast doubt on whether Machu Picchu had ever been forgotten at all. When Bingham arrived, three families of farmers were living at the site.
Upon discovery, Hiram Bingham documented his findings with the world. He also brought over 40,000 artifacts from the site back to Yale University. Only in 2012, were the artifacts returned to where they belonged.
9. Traveling to Machu Picchu
Once upon a time, there were a total of eight entrances to the citadel, with restricted access.
The first and best-known path is the Classic Inca Trail which originates from Cusco. It leads through Intipunku (Sun Gate). Another important trail is found behind the citadel and crosses the Inca Bridge. The third trail runs parallel to the Urubamba River (Vilcanota River). It connects Machu Picchu to three narrower trails.
One crosses over the Puente Ruins, the other passes the temple of the moon. The last one goes through the Intiwatana and connects to the hydroelectric power station. This route continues up to Chaullay where it deviates to Vilcabamba. Then goes down the river to the jungle. The remaining entrances served as alternative routes in case of any natural disasters.
10. Why was Machu Picchu Abandoned?
There is continued debate over the factors that led to the city’s abandonment less than 100 years after it was built. Here are 3 of the leading theories:
- Working-class citizens, who made up the bulk of Incan society, didn’t know about its existence or whereabouts. This is because the routes leading there were prohibited for anyone who was not a part of the elite Inca. When the elites left for unknown reasons, the location of the ‘lost city’ went with them.
- Another theory addresses the arrival of European colonizers. As foreign invaders tricked the Inca people, they had no option but to flee their homes to prevent being recruited for civil unrest. Historical evidence even shows that Instead of using Machu Picchu as a home base for their resistance to Spanish domination, rebels sought refuge in the more remote Vilcabamba region.
- The death of Pachacuti, the great emperor of the Inca. This line of thinking stems from our knowledge of the ancient Inca custom of constructing a “fresh royal estate” for each new ruler. According to this theory, it’s possible that the next ruler in line exercised his newly-bestowed power. Who can then move the seat of his empire elsewhere after the death of Pachacuti.
The truth about why it was left behind may never come to light. Regardless of this great mystery, we often ask ourselves ‘Is time travel possible?’
Travel back in time and explore the ancient world available to us while we ponder its many mysteries. We hope through these 10 interesting facts about Machu Picchu we did uncover some mystery.
Get deeper insight into the Inca Civilization on our Sacred Valley Machu Picchu Tour.
What is Machu Picchu most interesting facts? ›
More than 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist destination in Peru. A symbol of the Incan Empire and built around 1450AD, Machu Picchu was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.Why is Machu Picchu a tourist attraction? ›
Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist attraction in Peru because of its intricate system of Inca ruins. Machu Picchu sights are famous because it was the ceremonial center for the Incas, and the biggest draw is to visit the ruins and the breathtaking views you have while exploring.How old is Machu Picchu really? ›
Machu Picchu was believed (by Richard L. Burger, professor of anthropology at Yale University) to have been built in the 1450s. However, a 2021 study led by Burger used radiocarbon dating (specifically, AMS) to reveal that Machu Picchu may have been occupied from around 1420–1530 AD.What are 3 interesting facts about Peru? ›
- Peru is home to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. ...
- There are 43 native languages spoken in Peru. ...
- Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. ...
- The Amazon River begins in Peru! ...
- You can swim with pink dolphins in the Amazon.
Machu Picchu symbolizes the excellent technical skill, and productivity of the Inca Empire in its apogee. Its location represents the former border of the Empire; this vast domain was tied together by an estimated 40,000km of road.What is Machu Picchu actually called? ›
But the name of the town, built by the Incas in the 15th century, is technically Huayna Picchu, or “New Mountain,” according to researchers who pored through documents dating back to the 1500s to verify the original moniker.Why is Machu Picchu a mystery? ›
Scholars can find no reference of Machu Picchu in Inca literature or folklore. So, a natural question arises: who actually lived in this city? Although archeologists believe Machu Picchu could have supported a population of about 750, only about 200 skeletons have been discovered at the site.Is Machu Picchu man made? ›
Machu Picchu in modern day Peru was built around 1450 AD and has been named as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is said that the structure/town was built for the Incan emperor Pachacuti. The amazing wonder was discovered by a History professor, Hiram Bingham, in 1911.Do you need a tour to see Machu Picchu? ›
Machu Picchu visitors can enter without tour guides. (although new rules recommend that all visitors should hire a tour guide, you can still enter on your own)When did Machu Picchu start tourism? ›
Tourist numbers started creeping up in 1983, when UNESCO declared the area, along with the nearby city of Cusco, a World Heritage Site. A further upsurge occurred in 2007, when Machu, Picchu was named one of the New7Wonders of the World.
Why is it called Machu Picchu? ›
Huayna translates to “new or young,” while Picchu means “mountain peak” in the Indigenous Quechua language, said Emily Dean, professor of anthropology at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. She was not involved in the report. Machu means “old,” so we've been calling it old mountain peak, she added.Who really discovered Machu Picchu? ›
Finding Machu Picchu: A Look at Explorer Hiram Bingham, A Real-Life Indiana Jones. Almost one hundred years ago, on July 24, 1911, a Yale University history lecturer named Hiram Bingham III climbed to the top of a mountain ridge in Peru and encountered one of the most extraordinary sets of ruins on Earth: Machu Picchu.Who really built Machu Picchu? ›
Machu Picchu is believed to have been constructed around 1450 under the direction of Inca emperor Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui as something of a royal mountain estate.How long did it take to build Machu Picchu? ›
Machu Picchu was built in 90 years, between the years 1450 and 1540. It's located on a crest of the Peruvian Andes by people that knew neither metal tools or the wheel.What are 10 fascinating things about Peru? ›
- Potatoes and More Potatoes. ©iStock/MarkSkalny. ...
- Pick Your Climate. ...
- Birthplace of Surfing. ...
- World's Highest Sand Dune. ...
- Two of the World's Deepest Canyons. ...
- The Amazon River Starts in Peru. ...
- World's Highest Navigable Lake. ...
- Peru has Three Official Languages.
- Peru is one of the most bio-diverse countries in the world. ...
- The city of Cusco was the capitol of ancient Inca. ...
- Peru has three official languages. ...
- Machu Picchu remains a mystery. ...
- Two-thirds of Peru is covered by rainforest. ...
- Caral-Supe is the oldest known human settlement in the Americas.
Peru – Major Peruvian supermarkets like Plaza Vea have a wide assortment of pads, and a limited variety of tampons.What is not allowed in Machu Picchu? ›
To help protect the site and wildlife that lives near it, there is a strictly enforced policy of no food or beverages within Machu Picchu. Don't try and slip food past as most bags are checked by guards at the entrance to the site. Water is allowed, however, each person is allowed only one bottle.What do I need to know before going to Machu Picchu? ›
- Overnight in Aguas Calientes.
- Decide on the “Best” Train Option. ...
- Explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas. ...
- Use the Restrooms Before Entering. ...
- Book Your Tickets Early Enough. ...
- Don't Get Your Passport Stamped. ...
- There is a Fixed Route. ...
- Take the Right Equipment. ...
Machu Picchu, which means “Old Mountain” in Quechua (machu = old and picchu = pyramid, cone, or mountain”), was constructed in the mid-1400s.
What is the legend of Machu Picchu? ›
A Refuge for the Incas
Some believe that Machu Picchu was built as a last refuge for the Incas. When the Spaniards arrived and began conquering Inca territories, it is believed that the Incas fled to the jungle and found refuge at Machu Picchu where they lived together with Augustinian monks.
In the 16th century the Spanish appeared in South America, plagues afflicting the Inca along with military campaigns waged by conquistadors. In 1572, with the fall of the last Incan capital, their line of rulers came to end. Machu Picchu, a royal estate once visited by great emperors, fell into ruin.Why is Machu Picchu important today? ›
Machu Picchu is also important to indigenous cultural heritage. The ancient city might be called the crowning achievement of Incan culture and spirituality. The culture and language of the contemporary indigenous people comes directly from Incas. In a very real sense, Machu Picchu is where these people come from.What are two theories that exist about Machu Picchu? ›
- Machu Picchu Was the Last Inca City. ...
- Machu Picchu Was a Holy Nunnery. ...
- Machu Picchu Was a Royal Retreat. ...
- Machu Picchu Was a Re-creation of the Inca Creation Myth. ...
- Machu Picchu Was Built to Honor a Sacred Landscape. ...
- All of the Above?
It was only populated for 100 years, after which it was abandoned (around the time of the Spanish invasion). Some People believe that Machu Picchu had to be abandoned by the Incas because of an outbreak of smallpox.What Stone is Machu Picchu made of? ›
Geology in Machu Picchu
The most prominent rocks are igneous rocks formed by granites cut by geological faults. The mountain on which Machu Picchu was built has a rocky outcrop that made it possible to obtain granite stones for the construction of its enclosures and temples. Granite is the most abundant rock.
How many days in Machu Picchu do you need? For most people, one day is sufficient, but an extra day lets you explore the site and its surroundings more fully and at a more relaxed pace. However, in order to see everything and fully appreciate the site, we recommend spending two days at Machu Picchu.How many hours does it take to climb Machu Picchu? ›
How long does it take to hike to Machu Picchu? There are a number of trekking routes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. However, the Classic Inca Trail route is a 3 to 5 day hike, and on average, it takes 4 days and 3 nights to reach Machu Picchu.How difficult is it to visit Machu Picchu? ›
What is the Machu Picchu trek difficulty? The difficulty of the Classic Inca Trail is considered to be a moderate level hike. The classic Inca Trail Route is 43 km (26 mi) long and often steep, you will hike over four days at an elevation nearing 13,828 feet (4,215 meters).How many people visit Machu Picchu daily? ›
There are over 1.5 million Machu Picchu visitors per year! It means an average of around 2,500 per day.
How many visitors does Machu Picchu get a day? ›
Entrance to the site has been set at a limit of 2,500 tourists a day. Access onto the popular 4-Day Inca Trail leading hikers into Machu Picchu, is limited to 500 permits a day (300 of which go to porters and guides alone).How many tourists go to Machu Picchu? ›
Number of tourists in Machu Picchu, Peru from 2019 to 2021 (in 1,000s)
|Characteristic||Number of visitors in thousands|
Machu Picchu Mountain trail has 1,600 steps. To avoid the crowd at the summit, hikers who arrive at this classical photo place can only stay there for a maximum of 15 minutes, so take advantage of each one of them to get amazing pictures.How did Machu Picchu get its name? ›
Bingham apparently heard the name Machu Picchu from Melchor Arteaga, a tenant farmer who lived on the valley floor and acted as Bingham's guide during his travels to the ruins, according to the article. Bingham had also heard it called Huayna Picchu, the article's co-author, Dr. Amado Gonzales, said in an interview.What is the old name of Machu Picchu? ›
The Incas who built the ancient city likely called it Huayna Picchu, the report said. Huayna translates to "new or young," while Picchu means "mountain peak" in the Indigenous Quechua language, said Emily Dean, professor of anthropology at Southern Utah University in Cedar City.What is Machu Picchu facts for kids? ›
- Name: Machu Picchu.
- Location: Andes Mountains, Cuzco Region, Peru.
- GPS Cordinates: 13°09′48″S 72°32′44″W.
- Building Type: Stone Estate.
- Built: 15th Century.
- Annual Visitors: Over 1.4 million (2017)
- Annual Revenue: $6 million.
Machu Picchu remained abandoned for many years, earning the nickname “The Lost City.”