UNESCO World Heritage Site
A hidden city of awe-inspiring architecture and wonder, Machu Picchu offers tangible proof of the Inca’s architectural, agricultural, and engineering prowess. Its walls, terraces, and stairways are carved into mountainsides, while a complex system of water channels feeds into the ruins.
But there’s much more to this enigmatic attraction than meets the eye. Read on to find out about its intriguing history and significance.
What is Machu Picchu famous for?
One of the most impressive things about Machu Picchu is that it was constructed without the use of iron or steel. This is a feat that has yet to be duplicated, and experts have no idea how the Incas accomplished it. Many speculate they used logs and hundreds of men to push.
Machu Picchu was built during the Inca Empire’s height and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has long been regarded as a sacred site and is believed to have served as a royal estate for the Inca Emperor Pachacuti.
Machu Picchu is also famous for its stunning terraced landscapes and impressive stone architecture. It is believed to have been a complex that included religious, administrative, military, and agricultural functions. Moreover, it is known for its connections with llamas, which were integral to the Inca’s economy and culture.
What is Machu Picchu’s history?
Until 1911 Machu Picchu’s existence was known only to a few Andean villages. Yale lecturer Hiram Bingham came across the site while searching for Vilcabamba, the fabled last stronghold of the Incas.
The exact purpose of the citadel remains a mystery. Theories range from a military fortress to the final destination of a religious pilgrimage.
It is also not clear why the city was abandoned. One theory is that the climate became unfavorable and maintenance was costly. Another is that the Incas suffered from a succession war and a severe smallpox epidemic, which left them in dire straits.
It was probably a sacred place and there are indications that the people who lived here were acllas, special women who were dedicated to complementing agricultural production with religious ceremonies. The Temple of the Three Windows, for example, resembles an altar. The large monolith in front of it was likely a shrine to the sun god Inti, whose worship could be supplemented by offerings of animals and human beings.
What is Machu Picchu’s architecture?
Machu Picchu’s 200 structures are made from blocks of granite that were carved and pounded into place without mortar. This precision allowed the Incas to create intricate forms such as the Temple of Three Windows, believed to be an astronomical observatory. Its main wall is composed of rectangular prisms, while polygonal shapes are found in other structures, such as the Princess’s Palace.
ITheIncas were master masons, whose skill can be seen throughout the site’s buildings. The stone walls are so well crafted that even a knife blade can’t fit between them.
The city was divided into two sectors: agricultural and urban, with the latter comprising living accommodations for both the people and the nobility. The site also has a public square and a tower called the Torreon, which may have served as an astronomical observatory. Several rooms are cut out of natural clefts in the rock, which are thought to have been temple shrines.
What is Machu Picchu’s significance?
Machu Picchu is a World Heritage Site that symbolizes the incredible architectural, engineering, and land use skills of the Inca civilization. It is also a testament to their knowledge of medicinal plants and astronomy, which they used to align their structures with celestial events such as solstices and equinoxes.
During your tour of the complex, you will see a series of terraces that were not only intended for cultivation but were designed to perfectly drain heavy rains so that neither pathways nor fields would become bogged down. This is one of the many reasons why Machu Picchu has survived over five hundred years.
Although the exact purpose of Machu Picchu remains debated, it is thought to have served as a royal estate or sacred religious center for the Inca emperor Pachacuti and his elite. The site was abandoned just before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors and for centuries it remained unknown to outsiders until American archaeologist Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it in 1911.