Top 10 Machu Picchu Secrets | National Geographic | History, Facts, Maps, & Photos

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Did you know that Machu Picchu remains as one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world?

After all, the place had a staggering number of 1.6 million visitors in 2019 alone. That’s a 12% increase from the preceding year, making it the most Popular attraction in Peru. Do you plan to visit too? It’s always a good idea to read up Machu Picchu history facts and get to know the culture a bit before heading over. This helps you appreciate the site’s historical significance.

Uncertain where to start? Here are some facts every visitor should learn about:

1. It’s More Than a Single Building

The Machu Picchu isn’t a single architectural piece. Rather, it’s a complex that spans over 150 buildings. It includes baths and residential spaces, as well as temples and sanctuaries.

2. It’s Located a Lot Higher Than Expected

Overlooking the Urubamba River, Machu Picchu’s location is almost 8,000 feet above sea level. If you want to enjoy Machu Picchu history, you need to prepare for the physical exertion of hiking the trail. You also need to prepare yourself for the altitude sickness by spending a few days in Cusco.

3. It’s an Incredible Engineering Feat

The Inca did everything to ensure Machu Picchu’s survival. They built around 600 terraces that helped ensure the structures won’t slide down the mountain. Their water and irrigation system is well-built that they can still work with minimal repairs.

4. It Fits like a Jigsaw Puzzle

The Inca’s construction skills are superb, using a technique called Ashlar to chisel each stone to perfection. It means that each piece of the structure fits so snugly together. That’s why they didn’t need any mortar to build Machu Picchu.

5. Its Name Has Significant Meaning

Some Peruvian highlanders still speak Quechua, the language of the Incan Empire. Machu means “old” in this language while Picchu means “pyramid or cone”. With that, most people speculate that Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain”.

6. It’s the Emperor’s Vacation Home

The ancient leader Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui ordered the construction of this royal estate. This emperor expanded the Inca Empire all over South America. When not in war, this Incan Emperor used Machu Picchu as a vacation place with his family.

7. The Spanish Never Found It

The Spanish Conquistadors destroyed most of the Incan Cities after ending the Empire. But they never came across Machu Picchu. In fact, there’s only a single mention of “Picchu” in the Spanish historical documents.

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8. It Has an Astronomical Observatory

The Intihuatana stone has astronomical significance. The sun stands directly over this stone during the middays of March 21 and September 21. It causes the stone to create no shadows.

9. It Was Never the Lost City of the Incas

Hiram Bingham discovered the Machu Picchu citadel. But when he arrived, he found three farmers living there.

Learn Machu Picchu History Today

If you enjoyed this Machu Picchu History guide, you can read more of our posts and learn more. We have a lot of entertaining posts related to the subject that you can enjoy.

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