machu picchu facts

In Machu Picchu, llamas are foreign like anyone, the true citadel owner are the spectacled bears, overflying are forbidden, it is earthquake-proof,  the Spanish conquerors never found it, among others. These are unknown Machu Picchu Facts finally revealed for the future visitant. But what do you know about this place? Whether you are organizing a trip, a vacation, even a honeymoon in Machu Picchu, there is much that is unknown, but there are others that are quite interesting to know. That is why together with Machu Travel Peru we will begin to tell you about some impressive Machu Picchu facts. These facts can not only be seen on a guided tour of the complex but also in the incredible site museum. Know everything about this stunning and enchanting, magical place!

25 of the most impressive Machu Picchu facts

1. Machu Picchu or “Old Mountain”

Although the Incas did not have a writing system, they did have a very widespread language in the Empire. The main language spoken was Quechua. The conquerors tried to introduce the Spanish language in the 16th century. But despite this, many people still speak the Andean language. But there are no written records about the people who lived inside the citadel. Most archaeologists believe that Emperor Pachacuti had it built as royal property. However, many believe it was a retreat for some high-ranking religious leaders and scholars of the Empire.

Quechua is the source and origin of many place names, sites, and ruins around the country. First, Machu Picchu is described as a fairly ancient Inca citadel. So, the Machu Picchu meaning can be described in two forms: “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain”. Machu Picchu refers to a solid structure with a conical shape, and in this case, interpreted as “mountain”. One of the most popular Machu Picchu facts.

2. However, this is not as old as we thought

machu picchu facts stones

Despite its name meaning, Machu Picchu was built recently around 1400 B.C. In the Inca Pachacutec government. In other words, a millennium after the fall of the Roman Empire and less than a century before the coming of the Spanish conquerors. Of course, the same Incas Empire was a recent culture in comparison to other world cultures, like the Italian (They were already in the Renaissance era at the moment of Andean culture apogee) or the Chinese culture (Ming dynasty)

3. Machu Picchu, colossal and carved stones, perfectly matched

Most of the stones that were used to build the complex weighed more than 50 tons. This is one of the Machu Picchu facts that surprise most scholars. Many of the stone blocks were carved without iron tools. But the most surprising fact is that many of these stones are so tight that it is impossible to fit anything between them. And considering that some of these weighed heavily, it’s quite an architectural achievement. Furthermore, the stones were pushed up the mountain by the bare hands of hundreds of men. Although there is also evidence that they were chiseled from the side of the mountain itself.

4. The construction of the Inca citadel was complete without wheels

construction machu picchu facts

One of the most surprising Machu Picchu facts is that no wheels were used for its construction. This is one of the most impressive facts of the complex. If we are still wondering How to get to Machu Picchu? Knowing the method of stones transportation from quarries until Machu Picchu without the use of wheels is unbelievable. Although many of the stones were heavy, hundreds of men are believed to have pushed them across the steep slope. Let us bear in mind that the Inca culture was against pack animals and iron tools. Making this construction even more fantastic if we take into account its difficulty. Many of the stones even exceeded 50 tons. When these facts are taken into account, the construction looks more surprising.

Also, the stones are believed to have been pushed up the mountain by hundreds of men. Although, they were also chiseled from the mountainside. Note that the complex was built with a technique called Sillar. Without this method of construction, many of the buildings might have already collapsed long ago.

5. It is believed that it was thought of as a natural clock, as well as an observatory

This is one of the best Machu Picchu facts available. Much of the structure may have functioned as a clock,  not only as an observatory. The structures that demonstrate this are known as the Temple of the Sun, the Intihuatana, and the Temple of the Three Windows. These are 3 of the main and most significant structures within the Inca citadel. The Intihuatana is a rock whose various planes are polished with great precision. It is not only known as the rock that radiates energy, but also as the clock of the citadel. Many have understood that the natural environment of the complex is as important as the buildings themselves. The location and orientation of its most significant structures are believed to be influenced by the location of the sacred mountains. Also known as Apus.

Therefore, If you are looking for Machu Picchu vacation deals, hire a tour guide in advance, who explain to you this and more Machu Picchu facts through your trip, which will be your first deal obtained.

6. The real constructions of the complex are not in sight

exclusive machu picchu facts

The archaeological complex of Machu Picchu is made up of more than 150 buildings ranging from houses, baths, and even sanctuary houses. Inside the Inca citadel, you can find different buildings and constructions. Many of these were for ceremonial and religious purposes, but there are many for storage purposes as well. If you are planning a trip to Peru, you cannot miss this wonderful resort.

Although the Incas are indeed remembered for their incredible walls and constructions, their civil engineering projects were quite advanced for the time. When it is taken into account that the citadel was built on a fault between two peaks, that is when the amazement takes place. The site had to be sculpted by moving stone and earth to create the flat space that is seen. Most of the construction done is believed to be underground. Due to the different foundations and the drainage channels that work.

7. The routes of the Incas rivaled the routes of Rome

The roads and trails built by the Incas rivaled those of Rome. They built more than 40,000 kilometers of paved roads, bridges, and other types of trails. The road system built by the Incas linked the important cities of the coast and the mountains. All the roads of the road network also led to the capital, Cusco. These routes were part of the popular Inca Trail, one of the different ways to get to Machu Picchu. This road network was the most extensive and advanced transportation system in South America during pre-Columbian times. Many of these cobbled routes are still intact to this day.

8. It was not the true “Lost City of the Incas”

machu picchu facts stones

When the American explorer came across Machu Picchu in 1911, he was looking for a different city. Originally, Hiram Bingham thought that he had found the Inca lost city of Vilcabamba; It was a hidden capital to which the Incas had escaped after the arrival of the conquerors. It is now believed that the real Vilcabamba was built in the jungle, a few miles away from Machu Picchu. Upon encountering the Inca citadel, Hiram Bingham thought he was in Vilcabamba, the last refuge of the Incas. Therefore, his most famous book received the name “The Incas Lost City”. But in reality, he had come across one of the most amazing Inca architectural gems. Thanks to its discovery, today we can enjoy this unique attraction.

9. Machu Picchu, a town of only women

In 1911, once Hiram Bingham arrived at Machu Picchu, he spent a good time admiring its beauty before beginning to excavate for remains of pottery, jewelry, and evidence of Inca occupation at the site. Among Machu Picchu facts found there in 1912, one of them was relevant, curious, and could be the answer to the eternal question What is Machu Picchu? Well, many skeletons belonging to women were unearthed. Immediately, Hiram Bingham concluded, Machu Picchu had been a sanctuary for “Virgins of the Sun”, an exclusive Incas woman elite doomed to Sun and its son (The Inca) adoration. However, in recent years, new studies revealed that the bones rest belonged to both genders, males and females. For this reason, it is believed that Machu Picchu was used as an Incas retirement site.

10. The newly discovered tomb

secret door and machu picchu facts

In 2010, among other tourists, the French David Crespy had to stay in Machu Picchu for three days, caught by a torrential rainstorm that had washed away the train rails (his only way out of Machu Picchu to Cusco) In this sense, he had enough time to take walks by the citadel, paying attention in a cave located below an important Inca temple. It was clear, it was the door to something very essential that had been abruptly covered. At this moment, he didn’t know that one of the most unresolved mysteries of Machu Picchu could be resolved with his sighting. Perhaps, the Inca Pachacutec Tomb? (It was known that the great Inca emperor had been buried there) Maybe, during an escape?

Either way, he told his hypothesis to other local and French archeologists and one of them, another French named Thierry Jamin made available his geo-radar to confirm if the walled door concealed some stairs leading to secret Inca chambers. The hypothesis had to be confirmed and was confirmed. But, there was no time to celebrate, they wanted to continue with the research, unlocking the cave of those giant stones, but the Peruvian government opposed it, alluding to a lack of scientific support to carry out an unearthing inside the Inca citadel. In this form, maybe, one of the great Machu Picchu facts remains in the shadows until new studies support the French theory ad finally, we can enjoy another great discovery since the achieving of Hiram Bingham.

11. An earthquake-proof Inca citadel

Another of the most surprising Machu Picchu facts is about its anti-seismic structure. To combat the fact that the area of Peru is quite susceptible to earthquakes, every building in Machu Picchu was built to be earthquake-proof. When earthquakes occur, the stones of Machu Picchu are said to “dance.” Furthermore, the Inca citadel was built near two faults. And knowing this, the Incas relied on different construction techniques to make their buildings much better. These included the aforementioned ashlar technique, as well as trapezoidal-shaped doors and windows.

12.- Machu Picchu location is lower than Cusco city

machu picchu facts wonder of the world

If you pay attention to the Machu Picchu map, you will realize that Machu Picchu is situated lower than Cusco. The capital of the Incas’ empire lasts above 11152 feet above sea level, while Machu Picchu is above, 7973 feet above sea level. Remember that Cusco is located in the Andean region of Peru, with cold and dry weather during most of the year and Machu Picchu is in the Peruvian eyebrow jungle, humid and hot weather. This Machu Picchu fact will be very important in your planning Peru trip.

13. The Spanish never found it and worse, dismantled it

One of the most surprising Machu Picchu facts is that the conquerors never reached Machu Picchu. During their invasions, the Spanish never found the beautiful Inca citadel. In addition, after the different invasions, the Incas fled to other regions. One of these places is believed to have been Vilcabamba. The city that the explorer Hiram Bingham was truly looking for when he came across the citadel of Machu Picchu. Therefore, 80% of its structure remains until nowadays. It was not known that the Spanish dismantled the Inca buildings to demystify the Incas religious beliefs, but this purpose was not complete in the Machu Picchu case.

For this, you can take our many Machu Picchu tours. Thanks to its strategic location, the Inca complex was never discovered by the Spanish. But this does not mean that the ruins were hidden. Many locals knew of its existence. Several Quechua farmers were cultivating the different terraces when Bingham appeared in 1911.

14. Its use and repentant abandonment

machu picchu facts inca citadel

As for the function of Machu Picchu, it continues to be the subject of many debates. Machu Picchu is believed to have been used as an ancient observatory. Evidence of this is that the sacred structure is known as Intihuatana. This indicated when the two equinoxes of the year occurred. But other theories suggest that it functioned as a sacred place of worship. While others mention the possibility of being an agricultural sector, a fortress, and a place of pilgrimage, among other things.

Some other theories suggest that the journey to Machu Picchu from Cusco may have had a ceremonial purpose. Since instead of following the most sensible path to the banks of the Urubamba River, the Incas built the Inca Trail. This one is impractical but visually unparalleled. It is believed that this was a way to prepare the pilgrims for the magical entrance of the citadel. Without a doubt, it is one of the most interesting Machu Picchu facts that we can consider.

The reason for the abandonment remains a mystery to historians. Over time, this city was forgotten and only the locals knew of its location. It is believed that the Inca citadel was abandoned around the year 1535, even without finishing some of its constructions, during a time of great changes in the Empire.

Although the conquerors accelerated the end of the Inca Empire, the evidence suggests that Machu Picchu mountain was abandoned before their arrival. Some scholars came up with the idea of ​​an epidemic due to an outbreak of smallpox brought by the first conquerors who took advance of the arrival of their colleagues. But without any solid evidence, the real reason remains a total mystery.

15. The ancient land of Tawantinsuyo. Current Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador

Besides the complex system of land administration, they’re high knowledge in constructions, architecture, agriculture, inter alia. The extension of its country, named “Tawantinsuyo” was the real reason to call them “Empire of the Incas”. The country encompassed the current territories of Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Peru (the Country sheltered its capital; Cusco). More than two million five hundred thousand (2500,000) square kilometers between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Amazon jungle to the east, from the Ancasmayo River (Colombia) to the north to the Maule River (Chile). Of course, among the Machu Picchu facts, the Tawantinsuyo and its extension deserved to be on this list.

16. Helicopters and any airship are forbidden to fly over Machu Picchu

helicopter and machu picchu facts

For a while time in the ’90s, besides hiking and train to Machu Picchu, there was another form to get to Incas citadel, by air, specifically, in Helicopter. The journey could last only 1 hour and a half. In this form, the visitor could take advantage of its time visiting Machupicchu in less than a day, but there is a problem, the acoustic and visual pollution scared away the endemic animals of the area in addition to harming the development of the flora.

Therefore, in 2010 overflights in Machupicchu were forbidden in general. Of course, the tourists understand the law, and the spectacled bear and the cock-of-the-rock returned to the area, among other species.

17. Special permission to use a Drone

Are you one of those who like to take the most spectacular views of your trip with a drone? Well, at the moment of planning a trip to Machu Picchu, take note that the administration of the archaeological park restricts its use to professionals, advertising, marketing, or cinematographic production teams. Therefore, to use one, you will have to show an application letter indicating the day and time of filming, a small script detailing the places to be filmed, a receipt of payment for filming use tax and a list of the materials to be used, such as camera, drone, among others.

I forgot, all this documentation will have to be presented at least a couple of months in advance of the visit. As you see, among Machu Picchu facts, this is more advice than a fact, therefore, we recommend you carry your phone and practice your photography class in Machu Picchu.

18. In Machu Picchu, llamas are foreign like anyone

llama and machu picchu facts

As we mentioned in previous Machu Picchu facts, the Inca citadel is located in the Peruvian eyebrow jungle, it has humid and hot weather with precipitations most of the year. This is not a natural environment for those animals that live over, 13000 feet above sea level. In this specific case, we talk about the llamas. But, how were they getting there? Well, the Incas took him with them since its construction, around 1400 AC. Even, the grass that llama eats was brought from high lands of the Andean. Nowadays, you can find them wandering, resting, or eating in cleared areas of Machu Picchu, and they will a part of your Machu Picchu reservations. You will not avoid them!

19. The ancient inhabitant of Machu Picchu; the spectacled bear

In our list of Machu Picchu facts, the spectacled bear could not miss. This is the unique bear in all of South America, they usually live in cloud rainforests between 250 and, 4750 meters above sea level. The Incas called it “Ukumari” and receive the name of spectacled because they have white fur that starts from their chest and surrounds their eyes. Its diet consists of 90% fruits, seeds, berries, fruits bromeliads, roots, bark,  leaves, and 10% meat, fish and insects, and carrion. Of course, Machu Picchu is located in an archeological park that includes large natural and green areas surrounding the Citadel.

In these areas live the spectacled bear. Even, when they realize that there are not enough people in Machu Picchu, they can enter there and take a walk between stone walls, temples, and other areas of the wonder. If you visit Machu Picchu and has lucky to find them, don’t panic, they are accustomed to human presence.

20. Agustin Lizarraga, a Peruvian discoverer before Hiram Bingham

Discoverers of Machu Picchu

Everybody knows Hiram Bingham as the discoverer of Machu Picchu; the American reached the Incas’ citadel on July 24, 1911. However, very few know that when he arrived there, he found an inscription with vegetable charcoal in the upper part of one of “The 3 windows temple” walls: “Lizarraga 1902”. Of course, this fact was mentioned in the first editions of Bingham’s book “The Lost City of the Incas”, however, in later editions, the fact was gradually hidden until nothing remained of it.

But, Who was Agustin Lizarraga? Well, he was a humble Cusco native farmer who worked in the lands of the Collpani ranch, owned by the Ochoa family. On July 14, 1902, he and other Collpani workers went out in search of new land for cultivation, walking for several hours through the undergrowth until they reached unknown ruins. At this moment, Agustin Lizarraga writes his name and the year of discovery over a wall of this ancient city. Unfortunately, he died while trying to cross the Urubamba river, to return to the old citadel and get more information. This is one of the most amazing Machu Picchu facts that we could not omit.

21. The controversy between Yale University and Peru Government

When Hiram Bingham arrived in Peru to complete its crossing to find the Vilcabamba Incas Lost City in 1911 (A year before, he couldn’t achieve his goal), he did it with funding from his wife, the National Geographic Society (USA), and Yale University. Of course, at the moment when he discovered Machu Picchu and began unearthing Inca pottery and jewelry, he knew that all these objects would have to be transferred to Yale University for study. In this sense, with a supreme resolution of Peruvian President Augusto B. Leguía (in 1912 and 1916), these objects were transferred to the USA. The supreme resolution stipulated that the objects had to return to Peru for study and exhibition after a short period, a fact that was not fulfilled.

In this sense, the Peruvian government started a lawsuit against Yale University in the Federal District Court of Connecticut. The lawsuit reached conciliation in which Yale University undertook to return all the Inca pieces (more than, 35000 pieces) in two years, from 2010 until 2012. In this form, Peru recovered pieces of its history and tradition. Nowadays, you can see these archaeological treasures in Peru, in the “Concha museum” of Cusco.

22. The families who claimed to own Machu Picchu for many years

interesting machu picchu facts

Among Machu Picchu facts, this can be the most particular. Two Cusquenian local families claimed to own Machu Picchu for many years. The Abrill and the Zavaleta families. The history began when Mariano Ignacio Ferro, a local landowner acquired the land of the current Machu Picchu from the Nadal family between 1904 and 1910 (Even, he helped Bingham in his journey to reach Machu Picchu). The years passed, and he left these lands as an inheritance to his daughter Tomasa who married a lawyer named Abrill. Abrill began a claim against the Peruvian government to get an indemnity for the lands. The government ignored his claims, so he decided to sell 20% of the land to another family, the Zavaleta.

In 2003, both families began a lawsuit against the Peruvian government to get 100 million dollars (as indemnity) for use of the land for years for tourism activity. However, they lost. In this form, the claim of both families comes to be a nice history for the visitors who step on the sanctuary of Machu Picchu for the first time.

23. You can not visit Machu Picchu without a tour guide

According to the rules of the Peruvian government Culture Ministry, the entrance to Machu Picchu without a guide is totally forbidden. But, Why? Because the government wants to improve the development of tourism careers at local universities and institutes. Therefore, If you already have your Machu Picchu tickets, it is not enough. You will have to hire a tour guide service and there are two forms to get one, through a travel agency or directly when you are at the same entrance (many local tour guides prowl the area). The decision is yours. Our recommendation? The security and guarantee of a travel agency, always.

24. You can get your passport stamped in the Inca citadel

stamp passports and machu picchu facts

One of the things to remember is that you can stamp your passport at the entrance. You can enjoy various stamps on your passport within Peru. Lima airport will be the starting point of your adventure! (An additional note, the Lima to Machu Picchu distance is around 5 to 6 hours, considering a local flight from Lima to Cusco, then a mix of trains and road transport) You can get your passport stamped whether you are coming from the Inca Trail or from the same train to Machu Picchu. It is one of the best ways to remember your magical trip to the citadel. You only have to see a person with a green table (Usually, he is located on the side of the exit door of Machu Picchu Archaeological park) to get your passport stamped.

25. Only two ways to get there

There are two possible ways to go to the archaeological complex. Via train or through the incredible Inca Trail. If you choose the Inca Trail, you will end your adventure at the Sun Gate in Machu Picchu. On the other hand, if you opt for the train, you will arrive at the small town of Aguas Calientes. For this reason, it is recommended that you make your Machu Picchu reservations since the tickets usually are sold out very quickly. Whichever way you decide to get to the citadel, you will have a unique experience ahead of you.


We believe that the different Machu Picchu facts are best appreciated with a guided tour inside the wonderful complex. You will be delighted with everything that you will have at your disposal. We hope together with Machu Travel Peru to have quenched your curiosity regarding the archaeological complex. Still, there is much that is unknown about the Inca citadel. We hope this has encouraged your future travel plans. If you have any questions or queries, you can contact our team of qualified advisors.

Peru has so much to offer, it can be hard to know where to start. With many years of experience in the tourism sector, Machu Travel Peru is happy to help with anything regarding your trip to Machu Picchu and any tours around it. Make your Machu Picchu experience an unforgettable one!