A World Heritage Site Perched at nearly 8,000 feet, Machu Picchu is a true wonder of the world. Having been just recently discovered Machu Picchu remains at the center of continued exploration and discovery. Be sure to read through these lesser known Machu Picchu Facts.
Don’t forget to get your passport stamped at the small office just passed the entrance.
- On July 24, 1911, American archeologist Hiram Bingham discovered what is now know as Machu Picchu.
- 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.
- 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 can be translated as ‘Old Peak’ or ‘Old Mountain’ in the Indian
- The Machu Picchu ruins were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and are in the list of the 7 wonders of the modern world.
- Machu Picchu is popular for its three significant buildings namely; Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows.
- The stones in the most handsome buildings throughout the Inca Empire used no mortar. Built with a technique called ashlar.” These stones were cut so precisely, and wedged so closely together, that a credit card cannot be inserted between them.
- Machu Picchu itself was constructed atop two fault lines. When an earthquake occurs, the stones in an Inca building are said to “dance;” that is, they bounce through the tremors and then fall back into place. Without this building method, many of the
best knownbuildings at Machu Picchu would have collapsed long ago.
- While the Inca are best remembered for their beautiful walls, their civil engineering projects were incredibly advanced as well. The engineer Kenneth Wright has estimated that 60 percent of the construction done at Machu Picchu was underground. Much of that consists of deep building foundations and crushed rock used as drainage.
- For visitors conditioned to the explanatory signs at national parks, one of the strangest things about Machu Picchu is that the site provides virtually no information about the ruins. The excellent Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón ($8 entry) fills in many of the blanks about how and why Machu Picchu was built. It’s inconveniently tucked at the end of a long dirt road near the base of Machu Picchu, about a 30-minute walk from the town of Aguas Calientes.
- Machu Picchu is surrounded by heavy cloud forest. This thick foliage is hiding ruins yet to be found. Several newly refurbished sets of terraces are being made available to the public for the first time this summer.