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Facts about Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the new 7 Wonders of the World, and is top of many people’s bucket list of places to visit. There are many interesting things to know about this symbol of the Incan Empire.

Here are 10 Machu Picchu Facts:

1. Machu Picchu is the most famous South American archaeological site and the most popular touristic attraction in Peru. Because of this, there is a no-fly zone above the site and the number of visitors is limited to 2,500 per day, to preserve the ruins.

2. As Machu Picchu is located high in the mountains, at an altitude of 8,000 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level, you can’t see the site from below. Its high positioning was an advantage, as it remained as one of the only cities built during the Inca empire that was not found and destroyed by the Spanish conquerors in the 1500’s. To this day, the site is still well-preserved, having 60-70% of its constructions intact.

3. The Inca Empire had the most skilled masons of its time, which probably is what made it into the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. Even though they did not have any wheels or animals to transport heavy rocks, they were still able to build one of history’s most impressive kingdoms high in the Andes mountains. They used a technique called ashlar, which involved shaping the rock to fit together.

4. The ashlar technique is of such high standards that you can’t even fit a knife blade between two stones. Also, without this technique, Machu Picchu would have collapsed a long time ago. Peru is very prone to earthquakes and the site it sits on is near two fault lines. But the clever designs allow the stones to bounce and safely fall back to their original position.  

5. Machu Picchu was used to observe astronomical phenomena, with the sacred Intihuatana stone precisely showing the two equinoxes. Other speculations have been made regarding Machu Picchu’s purpose, for example, a royal estate, an administrative center, and a religious center.

6. You can reach Machu Picchu by a variety of trains (Peru Rail and Inca Rail) or by hiking along one of the trails, including the famous Inca Trail and Salkantay Trail.

7.  Machu Picchu was created in the 14th century and, for 400 years, only a few locals knew of its existence. It has been said that, in the 18th century, Germans discovered the site but did not consider it such a great finding. The official discovery date of the site is recorded on July 24, 1911 when Yale professor Hiram Bingham made the existence of Machu Picchu known to the world.

8.  The spoken language of the Incas was called Quechua, and it is still spoken by many people today. Machu Picchu means ‘Old Peak’ or ‘Old Mountain’ in Quechua, translated into English.

9. The Inca people built many terraces, which were farmed on and helped with irrigation and soil fertility. They also provided stability for the citadel to prevent landslides. This, once again, showed their amazing ingenuity which was really ahead of their time.

10. Probably one of the most mysterious facts about Machu Picchu is why it was abandoned. Until today, no one knows the real reason.