The best Machu Picchu Facts
Monday March 02, 2020 - Posted by Inca Trail Team
Machu Picchu is not only one of the most visited sights for Peru travelers in South-America, but is also on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the world. Machu Picchu is a spectacular sight full of history, open questions and mysteries that will probably remain unsolved forever. So it is understandable why the Peruvian Inca citadel has a place on so many people’s bucket list.
If you want to get to know Machu Picchu more, here we have collected the best Machu Pichu Facts that you probably didn’t know before! Those Machu Picchu facts can be interesting to help you prepare for your visit to Machu Picchu and to enhance the experience in Peru.
The Best Machu Picchu Facts
1. Experts are still unsure of the exact reason why Machu Picchu was built.
Most archaeologists admit that Machu Picchu was built by the emperor Pachacuti who ruled the Incan Empire from 1438 to 1472. However, there are different theories why he did it. There are beliefs that it was similar to a mythic landscape from the Inca creation story or it was created to commemorate the sacred landscape. Despite that, the site probably had practical and spiritual goals as well considering that for the Incas these two ideas were infused.
2. It is still a mystery why Machu Picchu was abandoned
There are different theories as to why the Incas abandoned Machu Picchu. The most common hypothesis suggests that they needed to leave due to the outbreak of the smallpox epidemic brought into the country by the Spanish conquistadors. Other experts say their gods told them to leave behind the sacred place.
The Incas didn’t keep any written records which makes it impossible to solve the mystery.
3. Machu Picchu hosts a marathon every year
Every year a local tourist agency organizes a marathon to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. Participants must run 26 miles (41 km) and reach an elevation of 4000 meters so it is understandable why it is considered one of the hardest marathons in the world. The current record holder is Jodine Steemer who finished in less than 3 and a half hours.
4. Machu Picchu wasn’t the only important Inca city
Although Machu Picchu is the internationally well-known Inca city, Cusco was the capital of the whole empire. It wasn’t only the wealthiest city but it was a place of magnificent places and really important temples as well.
5. You cannot enter Machu Picchu if you are wearing your country’s folkloric costume
Here is a rule that surprises many people. At first glance, it might seem a bit absurd, but the Peruvian Government made this rule in order to preserve the holiness of the popular site. So if you wanted to enter in your Lederhosen or Kilt I have to disappoint you!
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6. The porters are quite superstitious.
The porters on the Inca Trail who help you during the trek usually hide small objects in their tents and make offerings (coca leaves, seeds, flowers and sweets) to prevent disturbing ancient spirits within the earth and mountains. Many of the porters’ traditions and superstitions have remained unchanged since well before the Spanish arrived.
7. Machu Picchu was never lost
There were no accounts of Machu Picchu in any of the studied chronicles of the Spanish invasion and occupation, so it was clear European invaders had never discovered Machu Picchu. There was nothing to document that it even existed at all, let alone its purpose. But, when Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu, he also found four families living there. One of the inhabitants even showed him around. Therefore, we can’t say for certain that the city was ever lost, at least to the local people.
Also, when Hiram Bingham encountered the city he thought Machu Picchu was the Lost City of the Incas, but now it is proved that this fact is not true! He thought it was the city of Vilcabamba, the last city that sheltered the Incas after the conquest of the Spanish.
8. We still don’t exactly know what purpose it served.
Although academics have had access to Machu Picchu for more than 100 years, they are still not sure what exactly Machu Picchu was. When Bingham first discovered it, he speculated that it was the last fortress of the Incas.
Some people believe that it was used as an astronomical observatory to identify the changes in the seasons to know when was the best time to start planting or harvesting.
But this is not the only theory that experts came up with. Another one suggests that the city was unknown to the Incas because it was built in the pre-Inca time.
9. The third theory is that Machu Picchu served as a refuge centre for the Ñustas (Virgins of the Sun).
So when the Spanish conquests arrived, they had to find a shelter to prevent even more theft. So they escaped to the Andes when they accidentally found the sacred location. Experts concluded this possibility from the discovery of human remains of which the majority were women (70%).
Last, but not least, it is also possible that it was the last capital of the Empire after Cusco was defeated and surrounded by the Spaniards.
Since it has been rediscovered, this question has drawn a lot of attention not only to experts but to tourists as well. It is hard to decide which theory to believe, but this uncertainty has attracted a lot of admiration from everywhere in the world.
10. A piece of Machu Picchu was damaged while they were filming a beer ad.
In 2000, the Peruvian brewing company Cusqueña, was filming there when a crane accidentally collapsed which almost destroyed the Intihuatana Stone, one of the most important tribute to the Gods. Fortunately, the damage could be repaired, but it will never be the same again. After this accident, the Peruvian government immediately banned commercial filming at the sight. The cameraman who was operating the crane was imprisoned for 6 years.
11. The Incan road and communication system was more advanced than the Roman
The communication system and trails improved by the Incas connected the places through the region. Their system called Qapaq Nan covered around 18,000 miles (28968 km) and they also built multiple bridges to connect the paved trails in the mountains.
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12. Every stone was cut so precisely that they didn’t need to use mortar to keep the walls standing
And if the simple fact is not impressing enough, you should know that they did it without any equipment. They didn’t use any animal power; they didn’t have any iron tools nor wheels.
Besides that, they are put so rigidly together that Machu Picchu cannot fall. The stones were cut so precisely that it is impossible to fit anything in between them, not even a knife.
13. The majority of the constructional work was done underground.
The Inca architects dedicated 60 per cent of their time designing the underground structure in order to make Machu Picchu last forever. This is the reason why the site has survived many earthquakes and it stands exactly how they built it hundreds of years ago.
14. Two Peruvian sisters allege that Machu Picchu belongs to them
Roxana and Victoria Abril believe that they are the official owners of sight. They claim that their great-grandfather legally bought the land before the re-discovery by Hiram Bingham. They were bewildered when they had to pay for the entrance to their own land. They also tried to sue the Peruvian government for 100 million USD in addition to future profit generated from tourism.