Where is Machu Picchu Located?
The easy answer is that Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas, is located in Peru. However, there is much more detail to that answer. The location of Machu Picchu is critical to Peru and additionally, arguably was much more important to the Incas.
PRO TIP: We recommend pre-booking your Machu Picchu trip ahead of time to avoid scrambling to find a tour guide to get in due to new entrance regulations.
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Location of Machu Picchu in Relation to Modern Peru
Machu Picchu is one of Peru’s greatest treasures. It is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and named as one of the New Wonders of the World. Additionally, Machu Picchu generates over $35 million in revenue per year for Peru.
Machu Picchu is about 50 miles or 112 km northwest of the city of Cusco in the Urubamba Province. Machu Picchu sits on the eastern slopes of the Cordillera de Vilcabamba within the Peruvian Andes Mountain. The Cordillera de Vilcabamba a mountain range located in the Andes Mountains. Within the Cordillera de Vilcabamba, Machu Picchu is located in the Urubamba River Valley surrounded by two climbable peaks: Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu. Peru has designated the area surrounding Machu Picchu as the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park.
Concerning the Urubamba River sitting below, it rises 450 meters, nearly 1500 feet, above the Urubamba River Valley. Additionally, the elevation sits at 7972 feet, or 2430 meters, above sea level.
The Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary is spread over an area of 32,592 hectares or 325.9 million square kilometers.
Machu Picchu’s Location in Relation to the Inca Empire
Machu Picchu held immense importance for people of the Inca Empire. Discovered in 1911, by Hiram Bingham, it was built by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the ninth ruler of the Incas, in the 15th century. It was initially developed as a royal estate and was a location where the Inca nobility lived.
To the Inca, the site was an important military secret as there were only a few entrances to the site. It was protected and hidden on each side by three mountains and just had three ways in or out, one including the Inca Trail entrance.
Machu Picchu was built around natural and religious traits as the landscape surrounding was sacred due to the diversity of flora and fauna. From the peaks and city of Machu Picchu, you can see the snow-capped mountains into the distance. The snow-capped mountains were sacred for the Incas since the were a precious source of water. Machu Picchu was also full of rock formations and springs which were vital to their life. Despite being in the mountain, the multiple agricultural terraces helped the Inca people to grow such a diversity of produce.
Finally, the movement of the sun, moon, and stars was significant to the Inca people. Many of the sacred locations and buildings inside Machu Picchu lined up together based on astronomical events such as the solstice sunrise and other activities relevant to the Incas. This played a role in the direction that doors and windows would lie.
Machu Picchu is a significant archaeological site for both modern day and past Peru. Going to Machu Picchu is an experience worth remembering. Its location can be a little tricky to get to as it requires not only air transport into Cusco, but also bus, train, or hiking to get to the Inca ruins entrance.
If you are going to Machu Picchu, what have you found the hardest part of planning your trip? Let us know in the comments.