Machu Picchu Facts: 67 Interesting Things You Need to Know

Two girls on the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu in Peru with two male tour guides on either side of them all raising their hands with text above 50 Unbelievable Machu Picchu Facts

Machu Picchu, also known as the “Lost City of the Incas,” is an awe-inspiring historical site located in the Andes Mountains of Peru. This ancient city holds great significance, not only for its rich history but also for its remarkable construction and architectural marvels.

Discovering Machu Picchu was a pivotal moment in archaeological history, and its mysteries continue to captivate historians and travelers alike. Here, we will delve into the history, significance, and fascinating facts about how Machu Picchu was built.

History of Machu Picchu:

  1. Machu Picchu’s origins date back to the 15th century during the height of the Inca Empire.
  2. This majestic city was constructed as an estate for the last Inca king and emperor, Pachacuti.
  3. Following the Spanish conquest, it was abandoned and eventually forgotten until its rediscovery in 1911.

History of Machu Picchu:

  1. Machu Picchu’s origins date back to the 15th century during the height of the Inca Empire.
  2. This majestic city was constructed as an estate for the last Inca king and emperor, Pachacuti.
  3. Following the Spanish conquest, it was abandoned and eventually forgotten until its rediscovery in 1911.
Infographic with facts of Machu Picchu: Machu Pichu was built in 1450-1460, the Mona Lisa was not painted when Machu Picchu was built, you cannot wear folkloric attire such as German Lederhosen inside Machu Picchu, and Machu Picchu may be owned by a family that has the deed dated 1910.

Significance of Machu Picchu:

  1. Machu Picchu holds immense cultural and historical significance as it represents the remarkable architectural achievements of the Inca civilization.
  2. It is considered a testament to the Inca’s advanced engineering skills, harmonious integration with the natural environment, and impressive urban planning.

 

Interesting Machu Picchu Facts:

  1. Machu Picchu’s construction and architecture continue to astound researchers.
  2. Its intricate stonework, precisely fitted without the use of mortar, remains a mystery.
  3. The purpose of Machu Picchu itself is the subject of debate, with theories ranging from a royal estate to a spiritual and ceremonial center.
  4. The Inca Trail, a renowned hiking trail, provides access to Machu Picchu today, adding to its allure.
  5. Machu Picchu has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site to protect its cultural and historical significance.
  6. The Intihuatana Stone, an enigmatic structure within the site, is believed to have served as a solar observatory.
  7. The agricultural terraces of Machu Picchu showcase the Inca’s mastery of cultivating crops in an elevated and challenging environment.
  8. The Temple of the Sun stands as a testament to the Inca’s veneration of the sun god, Inti.

Visiting and Exploring Machu Picchu:

  1. To visit Machu Picchu in South America, there are various transportation options available, including hiking the iconic Inca Trail or taking a train to Aguas Calientes, the nearest town.
  2. The best time to visit Machu Picchu is during the dry season, from May to September, to enjoy clear skies and favorable weather conditions.
  3. It is important to be prepared for the altitude and follow essential tips for a memorable and safe visit.

Preservation Efforts for Machu Picchu:

  1. Preservation and conservation efforts aim to maintain the integrity and cultural value of Machu Picchu.
  2. Limiting visitor numbers, implementing strict rules, and ongoing restoration projects help protect this ancient wonder for future generations to appreciate and cherish.
  3. With its rich history, significant cultural value, and breathtaking beauty, Machu Picchu stands as a testament to the ingenuity and accomplishments of the Inca civilization.
  4. Exploring this remarkable site is an unforgettable experience that offers a glimpse into the intriguing world of the ancient Incas.

Key takeaways:

  • Machu Picchu maximizes history and mystery: With its fascinating construction, purpose, and status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Machu Picchu remains an exquisite enigma for visitors and historians.

  • Machu Picchu preserves natural and cultural heritage: Efforts to protect and explore Machu Picchu contribute to the preservation of the extraordinary architectural and agricultural terraces, as well as the sacred Intihuatana Stone and the Temple of the Sun.

  • Machu Picchu offers an unforgettable experience: Planning a visit to Machu Picchu requires considering factors such as transportation, weather, and timing, but the awe-inspiring beauty and spiritual significance make it worth the effort.

History of the Machu Picchu Citadel

Unveiling the captivating history of Machu Picchu, we dive into the riveting journey of its discovery. Brace yourself as we embark on a thrilling adventure to discover Machu Picchu, tracing the footsteps of those who stumbled upon this hidden gem.

Mysteries, surprises, and remarkable tales await. Hold on tight as we unravel the intriguing story behind one of the world’s most awe-inspiring archaeological wonders.

 

The Discovery of Machu Picchu

  1. The discovery of Machu Picchu, often called the “Lost City of the Incas,” is incredibly significant. In 1911, explorer Hiram Bingham, a Yale University professor, made the groundbreaking discovery while searching for Vilcabamba, the last Inca stronghold. Guided by a local farmer named Melchor Arteaga, Hiram Bingham, and his team found Machu Picchu covered hidden in the breathtaking Andes mountains.

 

Man and woman walking into the House of the High Priest in Machu Picchu
  1. Machu Picchu, with its majestic stone blocks and intricate architecture, Inca site that captivated Hiram Bingham the moment he laid eyes on it. Before its discovery, this site was completely unknown to the world. Hiram Bingham arrived realizing that he had stumbled upon an extraordinary archaeological gem.
  2. Through his expedition, Hiram Bingham unearthed many secrets of Machu Picchu, but its true purpose remains shrouded in mystery. Some experts hypothesize that it served as a sacred and ceremonial center, while others suggest it may have functioned as a royal retreat or an astronomical observatory.
  3. The presence of the Intihuatana Stone, a remarkable feature of Machu Picchu, often associated with being a solar observatory, adds intrigue to its purpose.
  4. Since its discovery, Machu Picchu has experienced an immense surge in public popularity and has rightfully earned its place as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
  5. Today, it stands proudly as a UNESCO World Heritage site, attracting millions of visitors from all corners of the globe each year.

The discovery of Machu Picchu in South America has forever altered our understanding of the Inca civilization and its remarkable architectural and engineering prowess. It has come to symbolize the rich ancient history and cultural heritage of Peru.

Significance of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu holds immense importance as an ancient archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage site, showcasing the remarkable achievements and architectural prowess of the Inca civilization.

  1. This captivating destination, located 2,430 meters above sea level on a mountain ridge, boasts exceptional Inca engineering and architecture, particularly their precise stone masonry without mortar.
  2. With its strategic defensive advantages, Machu Picchu mountain has preserved around 70% of its original structure, enhancing its historical and cultural value.
  3. Beyond its historical significance, Machu Picchu nowadays also serves as a magnet for global tourists, contributing to the growth of the local economy. Its awe-inspiring views and mystical ambiance attract history and nature enthusiasts alike.

In essence, Machu Picchu today stands as a symbol of the extraordinary prowess and ingenuity of the Inca civilization.

Fun Facts about Machu Picchu

Discover the captivating wonders of Machu Picchu with these fascinating facts that will transport you to the heart of this ancient marvel. From its awe-inspiring construction and mysterious purpose to the breathtaking Inca Trail that leads to its magnificent presence, every aspect of Machu Picchu is steeped in intrigue.

Delve into the secrets and stories surrounding this UNESCO World Heritage Site, with interesting facts including the enigmatic Intihuatana Stone and the ingenious agricultural terraces. Prepare to be mesmerized by the grandeur of the Temple of the Sun as we embark on a journey through Machu Picchu’s extraordinary past.

Construction and Architecture of Machu Picchu

  1. The construction and architecture of Machu Picchu showcase the remarkable engineering skills of the Inca civilization. Situated on a mountain ridge in the Andes Mountains, at an elevation of approximately 7,972 feet, the city astounds with its use of “ashlar masonry.”
  2. This technique involves cutting stones to fit perfectly together, without the need for mortar. This precision construction enabled the structures to withstand earthquakes and other natural calamities.
  3. Machu Picchu‘s buildings served various functions, including residential areas, agricultural terraces, ceremonial spaces such as temples and plazas, and even an astronomical observatory.
  4. The Incas ingeniously created an extensive network of stone stairways and paths that interconnected the different sections of the city.
  5. The architecture of Machu Picchu sits beautifully reflecting the Inca‘s profound understanding of their surroundings.
  6. Meticulous planning optimized the natural landscape and the region’s tropical mountain climate.
  7. The design incorporated drainage channels to manage water runoff and prevent erosion, while stone walls retained heat during chilly nights.
  8. The construction and architecture of Machu Picchu continue to captivate people to this day. It stands as a testament to the ingenuity and expertise of the Inca civilization. When visiting this ancient wonder, one can witness firsthand the impressive architectural achievements of the Incas and appreciate their advanced engineering knowledge.
  9. Fun Fact: Machu Picchu was built and constructed without the use of iron tools or the wheel, making this achievement all the more extraordinary.

 

Mystery Surrounding Machu Picchu’s Purpose

  1. The purpose of Machu Picchu shrouded in mystery, has long intrigued historians, archaeologists, and travelers. The true purpose of this Inca citadel, surrounded by the Andes Mountains, remains unknown.
  2. Some believe it served as a royal retreat for Inca rulers, while others speculate it played a significant role in religious and ceremonial activities. The strategic location of the Machu Picchu citadel suggests a possible defensive function.
  3. One intriguing theory suggests that Machu Picchu functioned as an astronomical observatory. The Intihuatana Stone, a prominent feature of the site, may have served as an astronomical instrument to track celestial movements. This theory aligns with the Inca’s advanced knowledge of astronomy and their deep reverence for the sun.
  4. Despite the abundance of theories, the true purpose of Machu Picchu may forever remain a tantalizing enigma. Its mysterious nature only adds to its allure, captivating visitors from around the world.
  5. Embarking on a journey to unravel the mysteries surrounding the purpose of Machu Picchu offers a fascinating glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Inca civilization.
  6. Fun Fact: Machu Picchu, hidden and forgotten for centuries, was rediscovered in 1911 by Yale University professor Hiram Bingham during his quest for the lost city of the Incas. Its concealed, hidden location, and remarkably preserved ruins have earned it the prestigious status of a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Girl with arm above head standing in a stone doorway in Ollantaytambo Sacred Valley

The Inca Trail Leading to Machu Picchu

  1. The ancient pilgrimage of the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu is a renowned trail that offers breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains. This challenging yet rewarding experience attracts thousands of hikers annually.
  2. Along the trail, hikers can explore well-preserved Inca ruins like Wiñay Wayna and Intipata. The stone paths and steps they walk on showcase the incredible engineering skills of the Incas.
  3. Covering approximately 26 miles (42 kilometers), the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu typically takes four days to complete, with shorter options available. Hiking this trail requires physical fitness and acclimatization to the high altitude, as it reaches an elevation of over 13,000 feet (4,000 meters).
  4. To protect the historic Inca trail, and preserve its natural beauty, a limited number of permits are issued each day. Planning and booking in advance are necessary to secure a spot on the Inca Trail Leading to Machu Picchu.
  5. This trail allows travelers to immerse themselves in the ancient Inca culture while enjoying the stunning scenery of the Peruvian Andes. It combines history, adventure, and natural beauty, creating an unforgettable experience for those who undertake it.

Machu Picchu’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site proves that even ancient ruins can make the cool kids list.

 

Machu Picchu’s Status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site

  1. Machu Picchu’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was designated in 1983 because of its cultural and historical value. This recognition acknowledges the exceptional universal value of Machu Picchu as representing the Inca civilization and the cultural heritage of the Andes region. It also highlights the architectural and engineering achievements of the Incas, as best preserved archaeological sites as well as the site’s exceptional natural landscape.
  2. Being a World Heritage Site, there are responsibilities and expectations of the Peruvian government for preserving and managing Machu Picchu. The Peruvian government, in collaboration with UNESCO, works diligently to safeguard the site and prevent any potential threats or damage.
  3. Moreover, Machu Picchu’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site brings international recognition and promotes tourism. It attracts millions of visitors who come to witness its beauty, explore its ancient ruins, and learn about the history of the Inca civilization.

If you plan to visit Machu Picchu, remember to do so responsibly and respect the guidelines in place to preserve this extraordinary site for future generations.

 

The Intihuatana Stone – A Solar Observatory

  1. The Intihuatana Stone at Machu Picchu serves as a remarkable feature and a solar observatory, offering a glimpse into the astronomical knowledge and expertise of the Inca civilization. This stone aligns perfectly with the sun during the winter solstice, making it an essential tool for the Incas to determine the changing seasons and facilitate their agricultural activities.
  2. Gathering at the Intihuatana Stone, the Incas observed the movement of the sun, stars, and celestial bodies. They believed that by connecting with the sun, they could ensure prosperity for their crops and the well-being of their people.
  3. In addition to its practical purpose, the Intihuatana Stone showcases the advanced knowledge and skills of the Inca civilization. Its intricate carving resembles an hourglass or pyramid and was also used for religious ceremonies and rituals.

Today, visitors to Machu Picchu have the opportunity to marvel at the Intihuatana Stone and appreciate the precision and ingenuity of the Inca people. This stone stands as a testament to their deep connection with the natural world and their ability to harness its power for their benefit.

 

The Agricultural Terraces of Machu Picchu

  1. The Agricultural Terraces of Machu Picchu were a remarkable engineering feat that played a crucial role in sustaining the Inca civilization. These terraces, known as “The Stairs to the Sky,” were constructed using stone blocks and cascaded down the mountainside on multiple levels. They served a variety of purposes.
  2. Agricultural productivity: The terraces were ingeniously designed to maximize the cultivation of crops such as maize, potatoes, and quinoa. The different levels allowed for efficient irrigation and drainage systems, ensuring optimal moisture levels for the crops while also preventing erosion. The terraces were used for growing medicinal plants that were valuable to the Incas.
  3. Sustainability: By effectively managing water resources, the terraces utilized the natural abundance from the mountain peaks. This helped the Incas overcome water shortages and establish a self-sufficient agricultural system, even within the challenging tropical mountain climate of the region.
  4. Environmental preservation: The terraces played a crucial role in preventing soil erosion, and forest vegetation, thereby preserving the fertile ground on the mountainside. They contributed to the prevention of landslides and safeguarded the natural habitat in the area.
  5. Cultural significance: In addition to their practical uses, the agricultural terraces held immense spiritual and cultural importance to the Incas. They symbolized the deep connection between humans and nature and embodied the Inca philosophy of harmonious coexistence with the land.
  6. Fact: The Agricultural Terraces of Machu Picchu are an exceptional archaeological treasure and form part of the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These terraces exemplify the extensive knowledge and skills of the Inca civilization in integrating agriculture with the landscape and preserving the natural environment.

The Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu

  1. The Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu is a significant architectural feature in the ancient Inca city and citadel. It was built precisely for ceremonial and astronomical purposes. Situated in a prominent location, it offers breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys.
  2. The Temple of the Sun consists of finely crafted stone blocks that fit seamlessly without mortar. It has a trapezoidal shape, a common characteristic of Inca architecture. The temple also showcases intricate carvings and designs, displaying the Inca’s skilled craftsmanship.
  3. One fascinating fact about the Temple of the Sun is the Intihuatana Stone, an important element in Inca culture. It served as a solar observatory, helping the Incas determine the changing seasons and solstices.

Visitors to Machu Picchu can explore and admire the Temple of the Sun’s architectural beauty and historical significance. It is crucial to respect the site and follow any guidelines to preserve this archaeological gem.

Top view of circular granite stone buliding called Temple of the Sun at Machu Picchu

Visiting and Exploring Machu Picchu

Looking to visit and explore the incredible wonder that is Machu Picchu? We’ve got you covered!

In this section, we’ll dive into all the essentials you need to know. From how to get to Machu Picchu, to understanding the weather and the best time to visit, and valuable tips for making the most of your adventure. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the fascinating ruins of Machu Picchu.

How to Get to Machu Picchu

To learn how to get to Machu Picchu, follow these steps:

  1. Begin your journey by flying into Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco City, Peru.
  2. From Cusco, you can take a taxi or shuttle to Poroy train station.
  3. Board the train to Machu Picchu that departs from Poroy and travels to Aguas Calientes, the town located at the base of Machu Picchu mountain.
  4. Once you reach Aguas Calientes, make sure to purchase a bus ticket that allows you to enjoy a 20-minute scenic ride up the old mountain road, taking you to the entrance of Machu Picchu.
  5. Alternatively, if you’re up for an adventurous experience, you can choose to hike up to Machu Picchu using the renowned Inca Trail. Just remember to book your hike in advance and ensure that you are physically fit to tackle the challenging trail.
  6. When you arrive at the entrance of Machu Picchu, simply present your ticket and get ready to embark on a fascinating exploration of these ancient ruins.

Remember to consider the weather conditions and plan your visit during the dry season, which lasts from May to October. This will help you avoid rain and muddy trails, ensuring a more pleasant experience. It is advisable to acclimatize yourself to the high altitude by spending a day or two in Cusco before visiting Machu Picchu.

By following these outlined steps, you will be well on your way to experiencing the awe-inspiring wonder of Machu Picchu!

Weather and Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu

The weather in Machu Picchu is an important factor to consider when planning your visit. The best time to visit Machu Picchu is from May to September, which is the dry season when there is minimal rainfall. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, making it perfect for exploring the ancient ruins and hiking the surrounding trails.

It’s important to note that the weather in Machu Picchu can be unpredictable even during the dry season. It’s recommended to pack layers of clothing and a waterproof jacket to be prepared for sudden temperature changes and light showers.

If you want to avoid crowds and enjoy the best weather, visiting Machu Picchu in May or September, at the beginning or end of the dry season, is a good idea. These months still offer good weather with fewer tourists compared to the peak months of June, July, and August.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind some rain and prefer a quieter experience, visiting in October and November, the shoulder season, can also be a good option. Be aware that weather conditions can be more unpredictable during this time, and some trails or sites may be closed for maintenance.

Regardless of the time of year, it’s essential to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly for your visit to Machu Picchu. This will ensure a more enjoyable and comfortable experience exploring this historic wonder of the world.

Tips for Visiting the Machu Picchu Mountain

During my visit to Machu Picchu, I followed some useful tips for visiting the site. I purchased tickets in advance to secure my entry, as they are limited and can sell out quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons.

I made sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing suitable for walking and climbing. I brought plenty of water to stay hydrated due to the high altitude. I applied sunscreen and wore a hat to protect myself from the strong sun.

Knowing that the high altitude can make physical exertion more challenging, I took it slow and paced myself. To enhance my experience, I decided to hire a knowledgeable guide like Cachi Life Peru who provided insightful historical information about the site. I highly recommend considering this option for a more enriching visit.

I planned to arrive early in the morning to avoid crowds and fully immerse myself in the tranquil ambiance of Machu Picchu. I brought along my camera to capture the stunning views and architecture, which left me in awe. Above all, I respected the rules and regulations of the site, appreciating its rich history and significance.

Following these tips truly enhanced my visit to Machu Picchu. The early morning arrival allowed me to enjoy the breathtaking views without the presence of crowds.

My guide’s fascinating stories and details added an extra layer of fascination as I explored the ruins. The intricate stonework and the stunning landscape left me mesmerized. Witnessing the wonders of Machu Picchu up close was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Preservation Efforts for Machu Picchu

Preservation Efforts for Machu Picchu are essential to its long-term survival. The Peruvian government, in conjunction with international organizations, actively works to protect and maintain the site.

Skilled artisans, archaeologists, and engineers engage in extensive restoration projects to repair and preserve the deteriorating structures of Machu Picchu, ensuring the site’s authenticity and integrity. Measures are implemented to limit visitor numbers and control activities that may cause damage to the ruins and surrounding ecosystem, thus preventing further environmental degradation.

Educational programs and guided tours are also conducted to promote responsible behavior and respect for the site, encouraging visitors to support preservation efforts and become advocates for sustainable tourism. Ongoing research and monitoring initiatives contribute to a better understanding of the environmental and cultural significance of Machu Picchu, informing conservation strategies and ensuring its continued protection.

Collaborations between the Peruvian government, international organizations, and local communities serve a crucial role in the preservation of Machu Picchu. These collaborations secure funding, expertise, and community involvement, ultimately ensuring the site’s sustainability.

The preservation efforts for Machu Picchu play a pivotal role in safeguarding its historical and cultural value for future generations. The commitment to conservation, education, and research guarantees that this awe-inspiring site continues to serve as a symbol of human ingenuity and achievement.

Before You Go…

Since you’re interested everything facts. Make sure to check out our Machu Picchu Map and all the Things to do in Machu Picchu.  

 

Interesting Facts About Machu Picchu:

  • ✅ Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca ruin where each stone was precisely cut to fit together without the need for mortar.
  • ✅ The ruins are located 2,430 meters above sea level, so visitors should acclimatize to the altitude before exploring.
  • ✅ Machu Picchu is a Wonder of the World and a World Heritage-listed site.
  • ✅ The Inca empire was one of the largest in pre-Columbian America, ruling over Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador.
  • Llamas can be found at Machu Picchu and were important resources for the Incas.

Interesting Machu Picchu Facts FAQs

What is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is an ancient Inca ruin located in the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes Mountains in the Urubamba Province, Peru. Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain” or “Old Peak” in the Quechua language. This historical and architectural masterpiece is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

When was Machu Picchu built and who inhabited it?

Machu Picchu was built around 1450 AD by the Incas, a powerful ancient civilization that ruled over a vast empire in pre-Columbian America. The Inca empire, led by rulers like Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, encompassed regions of present-day Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador. Machu Picchu is located and served as a secret ceremonial center and royal estate for the Incas.

How were the stones at Machu Picchu fitted together?

Each stone at Machu Picchu was precisely cut to fit together without the need for mortar. The ruins feature incredible dry stone walls, which are carefully constructed using interlocking stones. This remarkable architectural technique showcases the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the Inca civilization.

Why was Machu Picchu abandoned?

The exact reason for the abandonment of Machu Picchu remains a mystery. It is believed that factors such as lack of water and the arrival of Spanish conquistadors might have played a role. No definitive evidence or explanation has been found to date.

How can visitors reach Machu Picchu?

There are multiple options for visitors to reach Machu Picchu. The most popular route is by hiking the famous Inca Trail, but there are also other hiking trails available, such as the Inca Quarry Trail or Lares Trek. Alternatively, visitors can take a train to the site. It is important to acclimatize to the elevation as Machu Picchu altitude is located at 2,430 meters (over 7,000 feet) above sea level.

What are some notable features of Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu offers impressive views of the Sacred Valley and the Urubamba River. The site has various notable structures, including the Temple of the Three Windows, the Intihuatana (a carved stone used as an astronomical observatory), the Sacred Rock, and the Military Tower. The stepped agricultural terraces and thousands of stone steps connecting different areas of the site are also remarkable.

Peru Travel Podcast

50 Unbelievable Facts about Machu Picchu

by Peru Travel Podcast | Episode 9

Got something to say? Post a comment or send us an email below.

2 Comments

  1. Susan Moss

    I didn’t have any knowledge of Macha Picchu until Googling it an hour ago. Ive been so touched reading the information about it. Thank you. I don’t imagine I will ever be able to go there, but vacariously I have just now. 🙂 Susan, Hayward, CA USA

    Reply
    • Kevin Groh

      Someday we’ll get you there! 🙂

      Thanks for checking us out Susan!

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have Questions? Contact us!

Pin
Reddit
Share
Share
Tweet