Hailed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1983 and one of the Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, Machu Picchu is truly an awe-inspiring site to behold. This pre-Colombian city was once inhabited by the Ancient Incas in Peru, and is now considered one of the most unique archeological gems of South America.
You may have become familiar with Machu Picchu from movies and television shows, but how much do you really know about this glorious place? If we take a look behind the jaw-dropping beauty and architecture of this citadel, we can learn some amazing facts about Machu Picchu. In addition, the history of Machu Picchu is what truly makes this wonderful place all the more interesting and exciting.
Here are Machu Picchu facts that are worth knowing if you plan on taking your next vacation trip to the mountains of Peru.
Despite the high altitude, it doesn’t snow in Machu Picchu. It currently experiences 2 seasons, namely dry and rainy season. The best time to visit Machu Picchu is during summer time.
A Lost City
Machu Picchu was “rediscovered” by accident by Hiram Bingham, a notable historian of Yale University in 1911. Bingham was in Peru to unravel the secrets of another glorious city, Vilcabamba.
While journeying through the treacherous trails beyond the city of Cuzco, he met with several native Quechuans who pointed him towards a trail to a city high above the mountain. It was exactly on July 24, 1911 that Bingham arrived at the gates of Machu Picchu.
Meaning of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is a direct translation of the phrase, the Old Mountain or Old Peak.
Warding Off Ancient Spirits
Locals traditionally take a metal object with them during trips as this protects them against Ancient spirits who may still be residing in Machu Picchu. This practice is a custom and is still being carried by younger generations of Peruvians who work as trail guides for foreign guests.
Want To Visit? Wait In Line
Only 500 people per day are allowed to gain entry into Machu Picchu. This is a guideline which was only recently implemented by the Peruvian Government to ensure that this glorious urban Incan center maintains its natural beauty and charm.
Recovery Of Incan Artifacts
Almost 40,000 artifacts from Machu Picchu are currently being requested for repatriation by the Peruvian Government. Bingham was able to carry on his return from Peruvian a wide array of artifacts and treasures which were deeply researched and studied for the next few decades.
The artifacts were under the care of Yale University. To avoid nasty court battles and feud, a portion of the collection of artifacts were sent directly to University of Lima, the party that will be primarily responsible for taking care of the Machu Picchu artifacts.
A Hidden Fortress
Unlike Inca cities and fortress that were located in lower grounds, only the city of Machu Picchu was left uncovered during the Spanish invasion. Upon close scrutiny, Machi Picchu was found to have no trace or proof that it was invaded by Spaniards. The strategic location of Machu Picchu was advantageous in that outsiders never gained access into this one-of-a-kind fortress.
Incredible Architectural Feat
The once agricultural quarter is relatively bigger and more developed than the urban quarter of Machu Picchu.
One of the most striking features that is evident throughout this naturally beautiful place is its architecture. The ancient masons of the Inca civilization are some of the best in the world. Ashlar is the primary technique used by the builders of this great city. Slabs of granite and rocks were formed to create structures without the use of mortar.
Once Thought To Be The Last Of The Incan Cities
There are many theories as to the primary function of Machu Picchu when it was built and established by the Ancient Incas during the 1500s. There are those who claim that Machu Picchu is an estate that was commissioned to be made for an Inca ruler, PachacutiInca Yupanqui.
It was also proposed by Bingham that Machu Picchu is the last of the Inca cities; a sort of refuge from the Spaniards who began conquering their land in the 16th Century. However, this theory was later on disproved as studies reveal that, Vilcabamba Grande is the last city that was built by Inca rulers.
Once Thought To Be A Nunnery
Machu Picchu was also postulated to be a nunnery; a place where women solely dedicated to the Sun God of the Inca civilization performs rituals and ceremonies. The bones and remains that were gathered from the site were assumed to be from women. This was later debunked as later analyses reveal that the bones came from men, women, and children as well.
It Could Be A Royal Estate
Another theory that was assumed to explain the primary function of Machu Picchu is that it is a Royal Estate for the rulers and the wealthy of the Inca society. Machu Picchu offered a relaxing retreat place for Inca rulers and their respective families for weeks or months at a time.
Long-tailed weasel, Pampas cat, Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Peruvian Dwarf Brocket, Neotropical Otter, Spectacle Bear, and the Andean Condor are just some of the animal species that walk and fly within this heritage site peacefully.
Unlocking The Mysteries of Machu Picchu
With ongoing research studies and collaborations between educational institutions from around the globe, it is expected that we will get a clearer look at Machu Picchu history and the real story behind the total abandonment of this heavenly city of the Incas.