The Inca city of Machu Picchu is considered a marvel of human engineering and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. The buildings, made of massive blocks of stone that are almost seamlessly joined together, fit perfectly into the terrain of the almost inaccessible mountain ridge in the Peruvian Andes. Even the Spaniards initially overlooked this hidden city at an altitude of 2450 meters when they conquered the region.
The Machu Picchu Inca city impresses with its size and mysticism. Southeastern Peru's remote Urubamba Valley draws travelers from all over the world to explore this unique relic of the proud Andean people. But the never-ending stream of tourists is becoming an increasing problem for the centuries-old Inca city. Those who want to experience Machu Picchu should be aware of the sensitivity of the place and follow the rules.
Machu Picchu is considered one of the last places where the Incas worked. Protected by jagged rock walls, at the foot of which the untamed Urubamba River rushes through the dense jungle, the settlement lies on a remote high plateau at an altitude of 2430 meters. In the mid-15th century, the proud Andean people erected an area of over 200 houses made of precisely shaped stones stacked on top of one another without metal tools, wagons or mortar. But what did they go to all that trouble for? Should a place of pilgrimage, a royal summer residence or an administrative center be built here? Everything would be conceivable, nothing definitively testable.
There are no surviving writings, because the Incas lived without them. Not even the original name of the settlement is known, which is now simply named after the mountain on whose back it is enthroned. Only recently two scientists came to the conclusion that the name Machu Picchu only became established after it was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham. Until Hiram Bingham discovered the ruined city for the western world in 1911, it lay beneath gnarled lianas and moss-covered layers, because even the Spaniards had not found Machu Picchu on their plundering raids through the impassable mountains of Peru. And thus left the unique opportunity to fathom the big and small secrets of the Inca Empire between intact irrigation systems, residential buildings and temples.
Machu Picchu became famous around the world when the respected American magazine National Geographic Society dedicated its entire issue to the marvel of the Incas in 1913. Machu Picchu became a center of attraction for people from all over the world. To this day, the Inca city, which is difficult to access, is one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world. Every year hundreds of thousands of people make the difficult journey to the remote mountain town to experience some of the magic of this place. In 1983 Machu Picchu was declared a World
Hiram Bingham became famous for his spectacular discovery. Presumably, his notes also served as inspiration for the films about the adventurer Indiana Jones.
Linked to Hiram Bingham's name is the long-standing dispute over who rightfully owns the treasures of the Incas. The government of Peru at the time had allowed the discoverer to bring them to the United States. The excavations of Machu Picchu were exhibited in the Bingham University Museum. From there they only returned to their place of discovery 100 years later. Before that, there had been many negotiations between the government of Peru and the museum. Today you can admire the pottery, jewelry and bone finds from the lost world of the Incas in a museum in the capital of Peru.
Other museums, such as the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, have also returned works of art and historical testimonies to the countries from which they originally came. The question of how different countries deal with art objects that were stolen in the past or otherwise disappeared from their countries of origin is still controversial today. Most of the discussions are about whether the art needs to be returned or whether reparations should be made in some other way.
When it came to dating the Inca city and its construction, archaeologists have so far primarily oriented themselves to historical records of the Spanish conquerors, including above all the 1586 chronicles. According to this, Machu Picchu was one of the royal settlements of the Inca ruler Pachacuti. He seized power in 1438 and gradually conquered much of the central Andean region, including the Urubamba Valley, which overlooks Machu Picchu. To cement his victory, Pachacuti is said to have commissioned the construction of the mountain settlement between 1440 and 1450.
In the meantime, however, radiocarbon dating of some other Inca sites raises doubts about the chronological sequences based on the Spanish traditions. So far, however, there have been no reliable dates for Machu Picchu. "The lack of such radiocarbon measurements was also related to the widespread belief by many archaeologists that such analyzes were redundant because the Spanish records allowed dating of Inca sites such as Machu Picchu," said Richard Burger of Yale University and his colleagues.
To clarify the discrepancies, archaeologists have now used accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating (AMS) to date the remains of 26 Incas buried at Machu Picchu. "The dead buried in the burial caves of Machu Picchu show few signs of heavy physical work such as agriculture or construction," Burger and his team report. They, therefore, assume that these deaths were among the palace servants who looked after the Inca ruler and the elites of Qosqo (Cusco) during their stay and looked after the property in their absence. However, this also means that these people probably only came to the mountain after the completion of the Inca city.
The entire complex of ruins is laid out roughly in a south-north direction, has a length of around 800 to 1000 m and a width of up to 500 m. HIRAM BINGHAM divided the complex into city sectors. He gave the individual buildings specific names, but their actual function is largely unclear. The Upper Town in the western part of the city is formed by the Palace Quarter and the Temple Quarter. The entrance is a well-preserved city gate. Important buildings in the palace district are the Inca Palace (Incahuasi), the Palace of the Princess (Palacio de la Ñusta) and the Palace of the High Priest (Palacio del Willac Umu).
The Inca Palace (Royal Palace) consists of several rooms with walls made of granite blocks and a trapezoidal gate. The princess's palace was a magnificent two-story structure surrounded by simple outbuildings. It is assumed that they served as accommodation for the servants. The High Priest's Palace is located on the elevated holy place. As a magician, high priest and supreme sun servant, he was just as powerful as the Inca ruler.
Outstanding buildings in the temple district are the Temple of the Three Windows, the Main Temple and the Sun Stone (Intihuatana). The Temple of the Three Windows has three walls and has three large trapezoidal windows on the east side made of huge blocks of stone.
The main temple also has only three walls, finely grouted from huge blocks of stone. It was dedicated to the sun god. Nearby, at the highest point of the temple district, stands the Sun Stone on a hilltop. This 1.80 m high stone consists of a rock base from which a square spur rises in the middle. The four corners mark the four cardinal points north, south, east, west. The sun stone was used for astronomical observations, to calculate and check the calendar, to determine the rainy season and the most favorable time for sowing. Chroniclers report that the course of the sun, the time of day, the constellations and planetary orbits could be determined with the sun stone. It was used as a sundial and "solar observatory".
In the lower town in the eastern part of the city there are several quarters that are separated from each other by high walls. These include residential, artisan, agricultural, warehouse and storage districts, and a prison district.
It is believed that the entire city complex consisted of about 220 buildings and that about 400 residents were permanently present. However, Machu Picchu could at times accommodate up to 3000 people, provide pilgrims with water and food.
The residential buildings, palaces and temples of the 14 sectors of the city are laid out on terraces and connected to each other by large and small staircases. In the south of the city complex there were extensive terraced fields with a sophisticated irrigation system. To the west and east, the terraced slopes descended almost vertically down the ridge into the rocky region. Potatoes and corn were mainly grown.
To the north of the complex of ruins, at the end of the ridge, rises the mountain spur that gave the city its name, Machu Picchu (3140 m). This is a local term meaning "Old Peak". In front of it is the Huayna Picchu (“Young Summit”, 2700 m).
Above the ruins of Machu Picchu in the south-east, at an altitude of about 2745 m, there is a mysterious structure, the "Sun Gate" . The first rays of the rising sun "fall" through the sun gate on Machu Picchu and reach the sun stone (Intihuatana) standing high on the western part of the ridge.
It is the goal of almost all Peru trips: Machu Picchu! We have all seen Machu Picchu hundreds of times in photos and are happy to stand in front of this impressive backdrop. We know there are a lot of ruins in Machu Picchu, the site was built by the Incas, is a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. We may also know that Machu Picchu was discovered by American scientist Hiram Bingham in 1911 and Machu Picchu went undiscovered before the Spanish.
Admittedly, it is an enigmatic subject that leaves a lot of room for speculation and daring theories. Archaeologists and scientists are still discussing the meaning of Machu Picchu to this day, and every guide who leads his gangs of tourists through the complex has his own theory about the Machu Picchu phenomenon up his sleeve.
RELATED: WHO BUILT MACHU PICCHU?
The entire Inca Trail (Camino Inca) area with its valleys, steep and paved Inca trails, historic stone steps, mountains, and Inca ruins - approximately 350 km² area - was placed under nature protection by the Peruvian government in 1981. This area has been declared the “Historical Park of Machu Picchu”.
In 1983, this protected area was included in UNESCO's World Heritage of Humanity. It is one of the few areas on earth where cultural treasures and the nature surrounding them are protected.
But this world heritage site is in danger. At the UNESCO symposium in March 2001, scientists from the University of Kyoto presented their long-term measurement results. As a result, the western part of Machu Picchu (upper town) is moving downwards (1 cm per month). This can be the preliminary stage of a landslide. Should the upper town fall into the Rio Urubamba, the lower town would be so destabilized that it could slide eastwards into the river.
Machu Picchu is the most important attraction of Peru trip. The lost city of the Incas is located at 120 kilometers of Cusco region, in the Urubamba Valley. Since its discovery back in 1911, by the American researcher Hiram Bingham, there have been many hypotheses regarding the construction of the city. However, it is known that the Incas built the city in this rough area of the jungle to avoid access and possible attacks from their enemies. It was the most important Incan center for worship and astronomic observation.
It has two big important areas: to the south, the agriculture area is made up of terraces, aqueducts, etc. To the north, the urban area is the city with its temples, observatories, workshops, and sacred burial plots.
The most impressive way to get to the citadel is trekking the route known as the "Inca Trail" (a fouth day journey). The Inca trail to Machu Picchu is one of the most spectacular routes in the world, part of the 23,000 kilometers of road that the Incas built all around South America.
If you have the short time to visit the seventh wonder, we recommend you to take a Machu Picchu train from Cusco. First you have to take a bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo town, from Ollantaytambo is 2hrs and from Poroy station is 4 hrs aprox.
We recommend to take the Classic Inca Trail 4 day hike to Machu Picchu, is the most famous trek. In case there aren't any spaces available, we recommend the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu - Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek.
Before our tour started between 06:00 to 14:00, you can able to enjoy the most beautiful views of Machu Picchu above the "Guard House" in peace without being asked about a tour or anything like that. It is very important to book the Machu Picchu tickets circuit 1 or 2 in advance. To get there, first keep heading in the direction of “Sun gate” and then turn right in the direction of “Guard House”. As long as you don't start the tour (path down to the ruins) you can stay up there in peace, take photos and enjoy the view. The tour guide can give you some tips in advance, You should say to your guide that you wanted to go to the "Sun Gate".
The Machu Picchu tour will start in the morning or afternoon, it depends on the scheduled tickets, so you are back at the exit in 2 or 3 hrs. If you are doing the Short Inca Inca Trail, generally we arrive to Machu Picchu in the afternoon, we recommend you to go to the Guard House, take pictures and view Machu Picchu city and the next day, you will be visiting only a part of the Inca city. You won´t return to the Guard House. Machu Picchu New rules 2023
There are two mountains peaks which tower over the Machu Picchu archaeological site. To climb one of the mountains you need to purchase a pass in combination with your entry ticket-passes, it cannot be purchased separately from entry ticket, and once entry ticket has been purchased a mountain pass cannot be added or cancelled.
The climb to the Huayna Picchu is another highlight in this magical place. The name Huayna Picchu means "young mountain", compared to Machu Picchu "the old mountain". From the top of the young mountain you have an extraordinary view of the archeological complex and of the path that leads to the terraces on the edge of the abyss as well as of some small ruins of temples. Beyond the myths is the testimony of the knowledge and the greatest artistic expression of the Incas. This city catches the attention of all its visitors who admire its magnificent beauty.
Due to the current changes to Machu Picchu, which lead you through Machu Picchu on a prescribed route, it is essential for photo freaks to find out about the various spots beforehand. Here we have summarized the most popular and well-known vantage points and photo spots for you:
You can hardly miss the Guard House during your tour. It is the point where the tours meet and where you have the classic view of Machu Picchu. It's accordingly full here and you always have to wait in line for a photo. On the right and left of the meadow, there are also a few less crowded spots that are good for a photo. If you want to start from this point your visit. we recommend booking the Llaqta Machu Picchu circuit 1 and 2.
In we opinion, if you head from the Guard House in the direction of the Inca Bridge, you will get the most beautiful views of Machu Picchu, which are much less crowded. Especially in the morning hours there is always a quiet place where you can sit down and enjoy the view. The Inca Bridge itself is also worth seeing.
The Sun Gate is about an hour's walk above Macchu Picchu. This is where the Inca Trail ends and you can catch your first glimpse of Machu Picchu on the hike. Since the ascent is quite strenuous and steep, there are correspondingly few people up there.
It is advisable to travel in the dry season that is from April to October. If you go in the rainy season, which is from November to March, take into account the climatic conditions that may vary. When arriving at Cusco it is important that at least you rest about 2 hours so that your body adapts to the altitude.