Machu Picchu is an Inca site in Peru that is thought to have been built as an estate for Pachacuti, an Incan emperor. It was built in the 15th century, approximately around 1450. It was abandoned as a place for Inca rulers in about 1572. It was discovered by the outside world in 1911and has since become a tourist attraction. By 1976 at least 30% of the site had been restored and those restoration efforts still continue today.
Interesting Machu Picchu Facts:
Machu Picchu is also known as the Lost City of the Incas.
It is located on the eastern Andes mountain slopes in a tropical mountain forest. There are terraces and walls that look as if they were cut from the rock.
It is 7,970 feet above sea level.
Yale Professor Hiram Bingham is thought to be one of the first non-Peruvians to lay eyes on the site in 1911. Even Peru’s Spanish conquerors did not find it during the Spanish Conquest. This likely saved the Inca site from being destroyed.
It’s thought that a German business man discovered Machu Picchu in 1867 and removed artifacts from the site. There are maps that show Machu Picchu dating back to 1874, which means that Hiram Bingham was not the first to see the magnificent site.
It was named a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981, and two years later, in 1983 UNESCO classified it as a World Heritage Site.
Thanks to an internet pole in 2007, it was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
It is one of the most important historical Latin American sites and covers an area of 32,500 hectares.
Machu Picchu was built with polished dry stone walls.
Machu Picchu is under threat from several different sources. These include too many tourists, and the fact that weather and earthquakes can make access difficult.
There is also an ongoing battle between Yale and the government of Peru. Due to Hiram Bingham’s discovery of the site and removal of artifacts, the government and Yale are in a dispute over the artifacts themselves.
To visit the site today it takes either a four day or two day journey by foot. It can also be reached by train that only takes a few hours.
One of the reasons Machu Picchu may have been abandoned is because of an outbreak of smallpox. This disease is thought to have been introduced to the Incas from travelers that visited the site prior to the Spanish Conquest.
In 2008 Machu Picchu was placed on the Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the World by the World Monuments Fund. This was due to environmental degradation from tourism and development that has occurred in a nearby town. This town Aquas Calientes has built a bridge and a tram to make access to the site easier for tourists.
There are three main structures located in the Sacred District of Machu Picchu. One is the Temple of the Three Windows which, along with the main temple are said to have the most impressive architecture in Machu Picchu. The second is the Temple of the Sun, a semi-circle shaped temple that at once time was thought to have gold and precious jewels inlaid in the door. The third, the Intiwatana, is a stone located on the top of a hill. Access is via 78 steps which lead to a platform. It’s believed that this stone was used as calendar or an astronomic clock.
In an effort to reduce the number of tourists to the site, there are now rules as to how many people can visit Machu Picchu in a day.