Machu Picchu: Explore The Inca Empire

More than 7,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains, Machu Picchu is the most visited tourist destination in Peru. A symbol of the Incan Empire and built around 1450AD, Machu Picchu was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. machu picchu tickets

The Machu Picchu complex — which includes three distinct areas for agriculture, housing and religious ceremonies — is the most iconic site from the Inca empire, which ruled over a large swath of western South America for 100 years before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century.

Machu Picchu, which means “old mountain” in the Quechua language indigenous to the area, is at the top of a lush mountain and was built during the reign of the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438-1471).

Unfortunately, most cities built by the Inca civilization were destroyed by the Spanish conquest. Machu Picchu was in a hidden location—invisible from below—and not found, making it one of the most well-preserved Inca cities and an archeological gem.

Machu Picchu was an astronomical observatory, and its sacred Intihuatana stone accurately indicates the two equinoxes. Twice a year, the sun sits directly over the stone creating no shadow.

In 1911, explorer Hiram Bingham III, a professor at Yale University, visited the site and published its existence for the first time. He found it covered with vegetation, much of which has now been removed. The buildings were made without mortar (typical of the Inca), their granite stones quarried and precisely cut.

Machu Picchu buildings machu picchu tickets

One of the buildings, dubbed the “Principal Temple,” contains a carved stone altar. When it was excavated by Bingham he found that it has a layer of white sand, something seen in temples at Cuzco, the Incan capital.

A building adjacent to the “Principal Temple” is known as the “Temple of the Three Windows” and contains a large amount of broken pottery, ritually smashed it appears.

But perhaps the biggest puzzle at Machu Picchu is a giant rock, named “the Intihuatana” by Bingham, after other carved stones found in the Incan empire. The stone at Machu Picchu is situated on a raised platform that towers above the plaza. Its purpose is a mystery, with recent research disproving the idea that it acted as a sundial. It may have been used for astronomical observations of some form. It may also be connected with the mountains that surround Machu Picchu.

Abandonment of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu did not survive the collapse of the Inca.

In the 16th century, the Spanish appeared in South America, plagues afflicting the Inca along with military campaigns waged by conquistadors. In 1572, with the fall of the last Incan capital, their line of rulers came to end. Machu Picchu, a royal estate once visited by great emperors, fell into ruin.

The descendants of the Inca are the present-day Quechua-speaking peasants of the Andes, who constitute perhaps 45 percent of the population of Peru. They combine farming and herding with simple traditional technology.

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