15 Amazing Facts About Machu Picchu

Macho Picchu is a 15-century city in Peru nestled 2,430 meters high in the Andes. The ruins of this city still to these days lay bare the mysteries of the old Inca Empire. Macho Picchu is a gem of travelers, and due to its remarkable history and location, the ruins is one of the 7 wonders of the world. Even though the site draws scores of thousands of visitors to Peru every year, there are many fascinating things that lay beneath the layers of history of Machu Picchu that people still don’t know about, and below are some of them.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

It is not the Lost City of the Inca as it’s widely known

When Hiram Bingham III came across the ruins of Machu Picchu in 1911, he was actually looking for an entirely different city, called Vilcabamba. The Vilcabamba was where the Inca hid after the Spanish invasion of 1532. For long, Vilcabamba becomes popularly known as the Lost City of Inca. However, Bingham the explorer spearheaded the theory that Machu Picchu and the city of Vilcabamba were same. This theory was however debunked after Bingham’s death in 1956. The real city of Vilcabamba is believed to have been located about 50 miles west of Machu Picchu. Research done recently also seem to dispel the notion that Machu Picchu had at all been forgotten as three families of farmers were living at the location when Bingham arrived.


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Temple of the Sun or Torreon in Machu Picchu
Temple of the Sun or Torreon in Machu Picchu

It experiences frequent earthquakes

Buildings in the entire Inca Empire didn’t use mortar, instead, the stones were cut precisely, and then ingeniously wedged together that even accredit card can’t be inserted between them. Structures built this way had engineering advantages aside from obvious aesthetic benefits. As it is historically known, Peru is seismically unstable and both the cities of Lima and Cusco have been flattened by earthquakes. Macho Picchu itself was built on top of two fault lines. During earthquakes, the stones in buildings in Machu Picchu “dances,” that means, they just dance through the quake and then fall back into original position. It is evident that without this building technique, many buildings in at Machu Picchu would have collapsed a long time ago.

Machu Picchu view from afar by Yuvy Dhaliah via unsplash
Machu Picchu view from afar by Yuvy Dhaliah via unsplash

Much of the inspiring things are invisible

While Machu Picchu is well-known for its beautiful walls, the Inca people had advanced civil engineering, as it is witnessed by the ruins of their projects. Their skill was impressive despite the fact that the Inca are known to never draft animals, used wheels or iron tools. During the construction of Machu Picchu, the site had to be chiseled out of an indentation between two small crests by shifting earth and stone to form a fairly flat surface. According to engineer Kenneth Wright, 60% of Machu Picchu construction was done underground. Much of that includes drainages made of crushed rocks, as well as deep building foundations.

Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, Peru by Babak Fakhamzadeh via unsplash
Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes, Peru by Babak Fakhamzadeh via unsplash

You can easily trek up the ruins

While a trip to Machu Picchu is a fascinating venture, it is quite expensive. A train ticket costs around $47 and $62 from Cusco, depending on your choices. On the other hand, a bus trip operating up and down the 2,000-feet-high slope costs $24. But, if you don’t mind a little bit workout, you can trek up and down and will not cost you a dime. Also, by walking up and down, you will be following the same path used for the first time by Hiram Bingham in 1911. You will also be able to have extraordinary views of Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary. Climbing up the slopes is a bit strenuous and will take you around 90 minutes to reach the top.

There is a hidden museum

If you are one of those visitors accustomed to the obvious explanatory signs by the national parks, Machu Picchu is different. The site does not provide any facts about the ruins. While this might sound inconvenience to most people, it is actually advantageous as it leaves most of the ruins uncluttered. Nevertheless, you can still get little information about the ruins at the Museo de Sitio Manuel Chavez Ballon. The entry is $7, and you can find English and Spanish displays that will help fill many of the informational blanks about the ruins. You can learn more about Machu Picchu at this museum, like why it is was built in the first place, why the Inca settled on such an unusual natural place for the citadel. But first, you will have to find the museum first, as it is tucked inconveniently at the end of a very long dirt path and close to the base of Machu Picchu ruins.

Machu Picchu in Peru by Amanda Kerr via unsplash
Machu Picchu in Peru by Amanda Kerr via unsplash

Machu Picchu was actually divided into 3 sections

First, there was the sacred district, and then the popular district, and lastly the nobility district.

It is small but highly optimized

Macho Picchu has an area of about 13 km square, yet there are about 140 buildings and more than 100 flights of stairs made of stones.

Machu Picchu Tourists
Machu Picchu Tourists

Bizarre gateway rules

For outsiders, it is highly forbidden to wear native of customary attires at Machu Picchu

There are more peaks climb

It is usually crowded outside the bus depot in Aguas Calientes because everyone wants to be among the first persons allowed to enter the site. The reason for this is that every day only 400 people are allowed to climb the Huayna Picchu – a rhino horn-shaped peak that mostly appears at the background photos of Machu Picchu. This has led to many people forgetting about the Machu Picchu Mountain which has a 1,640 feet peak, and twice as tall as Huayna Picchu. Furthermore, Machu Picchu Mountain offers breathtaking views of the ruins and the area surrounding it, more so the spectacular view of the white River Urubamba that majestically winds around Machu Picchu like a snake.

Huayna Picchu
Huayna Picchu

The population of the old city

According to archaeologists and historians, Machu Picchu had a population of around 1,000 people. That is a lot considering the small size of the city. The population comprised of the high class of the society of the Inca people and were known as “IIactas.”

The Spanish never found it

Despite the Spanish conquerors invading the Incan Empire in the 1500s, it is believed that they did not found Machu Picchu.

Ghost stories

There are numerous legends associated with the location of Machu Picchu, for example, it is thought that at night spirits rise from the underground and try to take people away.

Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the modern world
Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the modern world

Machu Picchu is best equipped for earthquakes than California

As we have mentioned above, Peru is prone to earthquakes, but every building in Machu Picchu is earthquake-resistant, that cannot be said of many modern urban settings.

A film was shot here

The Indian film “Robot” was shot at Machu Picchu though it did not end well for the sit as part of it was damaged by a crane.

Machu Picchu Intihuatana Sundial
Machu Picchu Intihuatana Sundial

Section of the structure is a clock

The Intihuatana was created by the Incas to function as a calendar or astronomical watch.

You will need to visit Machu Picchu in person to appreciate and marvel at its beauty.

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