15 Amazing Facts about Machu Picchu, Eastern Cordillera (Peru):
1. The site “disappeared” for centuries.
The ancient Inca site which was built midway through the mid-1400’s but was unknown to outsiders until 1911, when it was brought to international attention by archaeologist Hiram Bingham. On July 7th 2007 Machu Picchu was named one of the new 7 Wonders of the World. It became UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
2. The Spanish never found it.
Machu Picchu is regularly denoted to as the “Lost City of the Incas” due to the conviction that the Spanish never established the city when they occupied the Incan Empire in the 1500s.
3. It takes some effort to get there.
Machu Picchu is located in the small province of Urubamba in Cusco. The unique stone construction of Machu Picchu is built against a cliff with a drop of 400 m, which overlooks the Urubamba River. Check out our Cusco city guide to make sure you make the most of your time and don’t miss out on some of Peru’s hidden gems.
4. There are ghost stories!
Due to its location high in the mountains, every day until roughly midday a blanket of mist covers Machu Picchu. This creates the feeling of floating amongst the clouds. However, legend has it that at night, spirits rise from the ground and try to take people away. To protect against this, most carriers sleep with a mirror or a shiny piece of metal underneath them.
5. You won’t learn this in your Spanish book.
The Incas spoke a language called Quechua and many people still speak the language to this day. Machu Picchu means, “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain” when decoded from Quechua into English.
6. The building skills required to make it are simply amazing.
The granite rocks used to construct Machu Picchu were extremely heavy with some weighing over 55 tons. The stones were either pushed up the mountain by the bare hands of hundreds of men or chiseled from the side of the mountain itself. Machu Picchu was constructed with a technique called ashlar which involves stones being perfectly shaped so that a mortar is not needed. The stones are fit so well that not even the blade of a knife would fit between them.
7. Machu Picchu, Number of People Living?
Archaeologists have found indication to recommend that the zone where Machu Picchu was built has been used for agriculture dating back as far as 760 B.C. According to historians and archaeologists, Machu Picchu was expected to have inhabitants between 300 and 1,000 people during the 1400s. These people were the highest social class of Inca people called, “llactas.”
8. The exact reason it was abandoned by the Incas is still a mystery.
The Inca people did not keep any written records, keeping the intended purpose of Machu Picchu up for debate. 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.
9. It’s not as small as you might think. These amzing facts will surprise you.
More than 150 buildings make up Machu Picchu. These structures range from temples and preserves to baths and houses. There are also above 100 flights of steps in Machu Picchu. Most of which were carved from one single slab of stone.
10. The battle of Peru v/s Yale University
Peru was in a longstanding disagreement with Yale University in the United States over 5,000 artifacts which were collected by Bingham, during his exploration. Peru debated that they gave the relics as a loan while Yale contends they own the relics. This disputed ended in 2011, when Yale agreed to return all the artifacts to Peru, putting the battle to rest.
11. Stop Sliding
To stop the building from descending the side of the crag the Inca inhabitants built over 600 terraces. In their time, the advancements they made in structure was unidentified.
12. The Incan road and communication system rivaled Rome.
The Incas developed structured communication systems and trails connection Machu Picchu and other sites throughout the region which stretched over 18,000 miles (ca. 28,968 km) long. This ranged from building bridges for paving mountain trails.
13. Part of the structure functions as a clock.
Archaeologists have been able to identify the 3 main structures of Machu Picchu. These are the Intihuatana, the Room of the Three Windows, and the Temple of the Sun. The Intihuatana is a pebble that was produced by the Incas to be used as either a calendar or an astronomical watch.
14. It’s better equipped for an earthquake than California.
To combat the fact that Peru is extremely earthquake-prone, every building built in it was made earthquake-resistant by the Incas! When an earthquake does strike, it is said that stones of Machu Picchu dance.
15. Machu Picchu is also a movie star.
A Bollywood film called, “Robot” was one of the films that were granted permission to film at the spot. The result was a crane damaging a part of the site, causing uproar!
What happened at this beautiful place?
In the 1500s the Spanish looked in South America, plagues troubling the Inca along with arming operations paid by conquistadors. In 1572, with the fall of the last Incan capital, their streak of monarchs came to end. Machu Picchu, a royal plantation once stayed by great emperors, fell into ruin.
Why did Incas leave Machu Picchu?
Generally, all historians agree when said that it was used as housing for the Inca aristocracy after the Spanish conquest of in 1532. … After Tupac Amaru, (last war) Inca, was seized, the location was uninhabited as there was no reason to stay there.
Who lived in Machu Picchu?
Most archaeologists believe that the location was built as a plantation for the Inca ruler Pachacuti (1438–1472). Frequently incorrectly denoted to as the “Lost City of the Incas”, it is the most familiar image of Inca sophistication.
What does Machu Picchu mean in English?
Machu Picchu is a Quechua words that means, “Old Mountain” or “Old Peak.” Broken down Machu means old or ancient, and Picchu means peak.
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