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 grow. Inca Pachacutec was the first to emerge beyond the Cusco valley after the victories over the Chancas who also lived in the region of Peru. 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
- Machu Picchu in contemporary times
WHAT IS THE INCA CITY OF MACHU PICCHU?
What is Machu Picchu? 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. 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 know the different areas of the complex.
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 official 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. 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 site. 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.
MACHU PICCHU IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES
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.