Talk to anyone about traveling to Peru in particular and they will all have heard of Machu Picchu. The Inca site has been chosen as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and is one of the most visited places in South America. Therefore, you may wonder what is Machu Picchu? And that’s a great question that we will answer. Therefore, together with the experts at Machu Travel Peru, we have prepared a small article answering this question. Most agree that Machu Picchu was built by the Inca Pachacutec. This was the greatest emperor of the Tahuantinsuyo who ruled from 1438 to 1471. The construction of Machu Picchu began when the Inca territories began to expand. Inca Pachacutec was the first to emerge beyond the Cusco valley after the victories over the Chancas who also lived in the region. Join us to learn about this imposing archaeological site.
Answering the most important questions of Machu Picchu
- What is the Inca city of Machu Picchu?
- The purpose of the archaeological complex
- Discovering the ruins and their history
- The Biodiversity of the Complex
- What is Machu Picchu today?
WHAT IS THE INCA CITY OF MACHU PICCHU?
First of all, what is Machu Picchu? Machu Picchu is one of the wonders of the modern world. The Inca citadel was built as a refuge for the Inca elite and the Inca aristocracy. Machu Picchu is located on the eastern slopes of the Vilcanota mountain range, about 80 miles from the imperial city of Cusco. Surrounded by sheer cliffs and out of sight of strangers in the forest, the citadel had a narrow entrance that helped protect the city from invasion.
And, what is Machu Picchu famous for? Machu Picchu was transformed from a simple summit to a sacred site of great relevance in the Inca Empire. This citadel is built entirely of stone and is made up of wonderful squares, ritualistic and sacrificial areas as well as a complex irrigation system. It also has extensive residences dedicated to both Inca royalty and their servants.
And even though the purpose of the site is not entirely clear, the site managed to incorporate a large number of elements central to the Inca culture. From sectors dedicated to agriculture to sectors dedicated to spirituality and astronomy. Warehouses and even guard sites have been found. So the complex comprised a large number of different functions.
The location of the city was chosen with great care; the region was the perfect place for a luxurious city with the perfect climate, great soil, and great natural beauty. And so it was that it became one of the great cities of the Tahuantinsuyo civilization along with Ollantaytambo. Besides, very close to it was a quarry where the white stone that was used in the construction of Machu Picchu was found. If you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu, make sure you get the Machu Picchu tickets in advance.
THE PURPOSE OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL COMPLEX
The purpose of Machu Picchu is unknown since the Inca never had a written language so there is no record of what the site was used for. We can only speculate with the evidence and oral legends that remained. Occupied by at least three generations of Incas, Machu Picchu was abandoned in a sudden and mysterious decision. There are many theories as to why, but none have been proven.
But, what exactly is Machu Picchu? One of the theories assures that the citadel was a fortress that arose in need of the different droughts. It is believed that the need to fortify the citadel appeared due to a series of droughts. But studies made by academics show that architecture had great religious purposes. This is due to the similarity of techniques used in other sacred Inca sites. It is quite possible that the fortifications were built to ensure that only a select few could enter. And evidence suggests that the site was intended to be a pilgrimage or ceremonial site. Although it is also supposed to be a site to commemorate the power, conquest, and victory of the Inca Pachacuti.
Many of these theories contributed greatly to the mysteries of Machu Picchu that today surround the complex. The construction of Machu Picchu by the Inca Pachacutec was with the environment and ecology in mind. The Incas never knew the wheel and it is amazing how they were able to build such a site by hand. Each part of what is Machu Picchu had a religious, administrative, political, or social purpose. The structure was built to withstand the test of time and has done so for the past 500 years. One of the best things to do in Machu Picchu is to know its history and mysterious areas.
DISCOVERING THE RUINS AND THEIR HISTORY
Deserted for centuries and sitting alone covered in jungle, the ruins were hidden from the Spaniards. So it largely stayed that way until July 24, 1911, when an American professor, Hiram Bingham, who was looking for another city, stumbled across the site with the help of a local farmer. There are theories that in 1901 another team of explorers found the site and left their names registered on the site. One of these discoverers, Agustín Lizárraga, found a tribe of locals living in the Machu Picchu map and leased a part of the site to farmers. This is how the site was unveiled, but local people had no idea of the value of the complex.
When Bingham saw Machu Picchu, he immediately contacted National Geographic and the Peruvian government requesting a grant to start studies at the site. He asked himself what is Machu Picchu and worked there from 1912 to 1915. During this time they managed to clear the jungle and many of the Inca tombs were excavated. In 1913, National Geographic published an article on Machu Picchu revealing the citadel to the world, with many Machu Picchu pictures for the world to see.
In the years that followed Machu Picchu became a major tourist attraction for Peru and South America and in 1983 the site became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, hundreds of thousands of people visit the Inca Citadel each year. All these visitors are taking their toll on the ruins, so the Peruvian government has taken steps to protect the ruins and prevent erosion of the mountainside.
THE BIODIVERSITY OF THE COMPLEX
And what are 3 interesting facts about Machu Picchu? Well, fortunately, the site is not only home to a rich culture and history, but it is also home to a great biodiversity. If you were wondering what is Machu Picchu, you have to know that it is home to incredible and exotic biodiversity. This is largely due to its strategic location bordering the Peruvian Amazon and the Andes. Its strategic location allows the development of a large number of species. Also, not far away is the Urubamba River, which runs through the complex below it.
The Historic Sanctuary comprises about 30 thousand hectares where you can find rugged and mountainous areas, humid forests, and peaks, and snow-capped mountains among other landscapes. This is one of the Machu Picchu facts that usually goes unnoticed. And it is worth mentioning that exotic species of animals are not the only thing it harbors. You can find tree species such as white cedar, laurel, yanay, and alder among others. And a fact that is worth mentioning is the 370 types of orchids that exist in Machu Picchu. These are equivalent to 20% of all the species that are identified within Peru. These can be seen along the trails that cross the sanctuary.
This privileged natural area is home to species such as the puma, the spectacled bear, the vizcacha, the white-tailed deer, and the Andean fox, among other species. Besides, the site is home to more than 400 species of birds, of which the most outstanding are the Andean Condor and the Cock of the Rocks. The last of which is the national bird of Peru. Additionally, you can see up to 15 species of amphibians, 9 lizards, 16 snakes, 25 reptiles, and a large number of 377 species of butterflies.
WHAT IS MACHU PICCHU TODAY?
Today you can visit Machu Picchu every day of the year. If you are wondering what is the best time to visit Machu Picchu, any time is a good time. Many tourists and locals come and take an informative tour of Machu Picchu. You must first get to the Inca city of Cusco before you can go to Machu Picchu. From Cusco you can take one of the many available train services, from cheap to luxurious, that will take you on a fascinating day tour. Alternatively, for the more adventurous, take one of the many different excursions on offer.
The famous Inca Trail, for example, is a four-day hike that takes you through the Andes past some wonderful Inca ruins before reaching Machu Picchu on the fourth day. There are many more tours in Peru that will take you to Machu Picchu depending on your fitness level and how much time you have available. Today when we ask ourselves what is Machu Picchu? We answer that it is one of the most surprising attractions to visit in Peru. To take advantage of the different and alternative Machu Picchu tours, it is better that you book in advance. This attraction is visited by thousands of tourists a day, many of whom reserve their tickets 6 months in advance.
“EXPLORE THE WORLD WITH AN OPEN MIND, A STURDY CARRY-ON, & CLOTHES THAT DON’T WRINKLE.”
These days, thanks to the internet you can find out about your trip to Machu Picchu at any time. You can also be part of the fun Machu Picchu virtual tour. You can even consult with us about the different alternatives and tours that are available. The images on the site are sure to ignite your curiosity. And if you keep wondering, what is Machu Picchu? Then you better take a trip and find out on your own. Together with the experts from Machu Travel Peru, we hope we have been helpful. Remember that our advisors will be happy to help you fulfill the trip of your dreams.