Machu Picchu is the site of an ancient Inca city, high in the Andes of Peru. Located at 2,430m (8,000 ft), it is often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”. It’s one of the most familiar symbols of the Incan Empire and also one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ruins in the world.
These remarkable ruins became known to the scientific world in 1911, after the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham was led to the site by locals. Perched dramatically 1000 feet above the Urubamba river, Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is also the end point of the most popular hikes in South America, the Inca Trail.
Built in the 15th century and later abandoned, it’s renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, intriguing buildings that play on astronomical alignments and panoramic views. Its exact former use remains a mystery.
Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its three primary structures are the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed in order to give tourists a better idea of how they originally appeared. By 1976, thirty percent of Machu Picchu had been restored and restoration continues.
Machu Picchu was built around 1450–1460. Its construction appears to date to the period of the two great Inca rulers, Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui (1438–71) and Túpac Inca Yupanqui (1472–93). There is a consensus among archaeologists that Pachacutec ordered the construction of the royal estate for himself, most likely after his successful military campaign. Though Machu Picchu is considered to be a “royal” estate, surprisingly, the estate would not have been passed down in the line of succession. It was only used for approximately 80 years before being abandoned seemingly due to destruction of the Spanish Conquests in other parts of the Inca Empire. It is possible that most of its inhabitants died from smallpox introduced by travellers before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the area.
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