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Mar 12, 2024



Located deep in the high forest of Cusco and surrounded by one of the most important rivers since Inca times, the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu has captivated the imagination of historians, archaeologists, poets, and travelers for over a century. This extraordinary archaeological site, often known as the “Lost City of the Incas,” is a reminder of the ingenuity and engineering skills of the Inca Empire. This blog highlights the 10 most fascinating Machu Picchu facts, revealing the mysteries that have intrigued scholars and adventurers alike.

1. Rediscovery of a Lost Wonder

For centuries, Machu Picchu remained hidden from the outside world, shrouded in mystery by lush vegetation. It wasn’t until 1867 that the German investor August Burns began cutting tree trunks to build railroad tracks and suddenly reached the Inca buildings. Then, in 1902, an adventurer from Cusco, Agustin Lizarraga, made a trip to Machu Picchu with 2 friends. But it was not until 1911 that the American explorer Hiram Bingham stumbled upon the amazing ruins while leading an expedition to find the last capital of the Inca Empire.

Indeed, Bingham’s rediscovery of Machu Picchu sparked worldwide interest in this incredible site and marked the beginning of extensive archaeological research and preservation efforts.

2. Architectural Marvel

One of the most significant Machu Picchu facts is its impressive architecture and engineering throughout the citadel, which demonstrates the advanced knowledge of stonework and construction techniques of the Incas. The intricate stonework reveals the Inca’s skilled craftsmanship, with massive granite blocks precisely fitted together without any use of mortar. Moreover, the ancient settlement’s layout and design were meticulously planned, as well as Choquequirao archaeological site, incorporating elements of astronomical alignments, sacred geometry and unique shrines.

3. Purpose and Function

While the specific purpose of Machu Picchu remains a subject of debate, many researchers suggest that it served as a royal citadel, a religious site, or a ceremonial center for the Inca elite and noblemen from ancient cultures such as Tiahuanaco and Wari. On the other hand, some historians assess that it was a sacred retreat for the Incan ruler Pachacuteq, who moved from Cusco to share his knowledge with younger noble people.

4. Incan Masterpiece of Engineering

The construction of Machu Picchu was a monumental task, due to its remote and challenging location high in the Vilcanota Canyon. The Incas used advanced engineering techniques to overcome the rugged terrain and geological failures to create a thriving citadel with great Inca Trails. Furthermore, they created a complex terrace system that served both as agricultural land and as a means of controlling soil erosion and managing water resources.

5. Sustainable Living

The Incas were masters of sustainable living, and Machu Picchu exemplifies their harmonious relationship with nature, including Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountains. The urban design included functional elements like water channels, springs, aqueducts, drainage systems, and agricultural terraces. These elements were incorporated to create a self-sufficient settlement that could survive in the challenging mountain environment.

6. Astronomical Alignments: the outstanding machu picchu facts

Several Machu Picchu’s structures and stonework align precisely with celestial bodies and astronomical events, indicating the site’s importance in the Incas’ astronomical observations for controlling agriculture periods and religious practices. The Intiwatana Stone is a large carved rock located at the top of a hill covered by Andean terraces. It is believed to have been used as a solar calendar or sundial, aligning with the sun during solstices and equinoxes.

Astronomical alignments occur in many ancient settlements, such as Ollantaytambo and Pisac in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, or Tiahuanaco in Puno and Bolivia.

7. Abandoned and Forgotten

Despite its size and importance, Machu Picchu and its Inca trails were mysteriously abandoned by the Incas around the 16th century, probably due to the Spanish conquest and subsequent disruption of the Inca Empire. The site remained hidden from the outside world for centuries, preserved by its remote location and the dense vegetation that eventually reclaimed the buildings.

8. UNESCO World Heritage Site

This is one of the most important Machu Picchu facts, because this designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 is due to its outstanding universal value. This recognition not only acknowledges the site’s historical, natural and cultural significance but also emphasizes the need for its preservation and protection for future generations.

9. Ongoing Discoveries

Even after decades of archaeological research and exploration, Machu Picchu continues to reveal new secrets and mysteries for the world. Recent discoveries, such as the interdisciplinary studies of machu picchu or the genetic histories and lifeways of Machu Picchu’s occupants, suggest that there is still much to learn about this gorgeous Incan citadel.

10. Sustainable Tourism

Efforts have been made in recent years to balance the need for preservation with the increasing demand for tourism at Machu Picchu. Strong visitor regulations, including limiting the number of daily entries and forbidding certain activities, are being implemented to minimize the impact of tourism on this fragile archaeological site.

As you could notice, Machu Picchu is a stunning marvel of human ingenuity and a legacy of the Incan civilization. As visitors explore its ancient stonework, terraces, and structures, which takes you back in time, gaining insight into the endless cultural heritage and engineering achievements of one of the most fascinating civilizations in human history. Click here to begin a top experience in Machu Picchu!

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