The Truth About Machu Picchu
The Truth About Machu Picchu
Read some interesting facts about Machu Picchu and some absolutely amazing small group holidays and tours to Cusco, the Inca Path and Peru.
The Discovery of Machu Picchu
‘Machu Picchu’ means ‘Old Peak’ and that is what the Incas called their amazing citadel. It is 2,430 m above sea-
It is said that Machu Picchu was discovered on July 24th, 1911 by an American historian called Hiram Bingham, but this is not strictly true, because people were living in the hills around it and they knew the whereabouts of the ruins. In fact it was local Quechua people who told Bingham about the site and they took him there.
He may not have been the first Westerner there either as there is evidence of previous visits by explorers and there is mention of Machu Picchu on 19th century maps. However he is credited with unveiling it to the rest of the world. Bingham was an archaeologist and knew the staggering importance of what he had been shown.
When he was taken there the great city was covered by thick vegetation and a lot of work was needed to clear the site to see exactly what was there. Bingham started work on clearing and restoring the site and it became infamous when the National Geographic magazine published photos of it in 1913.
Bingham’s own book Lost City of the Incas romanticized the site and it is still widely read today.
A Brief History of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu was built in the mid 15th century at the height of the Inca empire and was abandoned about 100 years later. There is speculation that small pox killed the inhabitants though nobody can be sure of this. It is only 50 miles from the Inca capital of Cusco, but it was never found by the conquistadors. Historians are sure of this because there are no written references to it and it was not looted, destroyed or vandalized as were other Inca sites.
There are a variety of theories as to why it was built and many archaeologists believe that it was a site of great religious importance. Its geographical location is near sacred mountains and there are features such as buildings and stone work that it has in common with other known religious sites.
Visiting Machu Picchu
Today it is relatively easy to get to Machu Picchu. There are a number of adventure travel companies who offer fantastic holidays for travelers wishing to walk the Inca trail to Machu Picchu.
G Adventures have amazing small group trips that you should certainly look into. This link will take you to an 8 day trip called Inca Discovery – Lima to Peru. Below is a very interesting video of a 4 day trak to Machu Picchu. You get a real insight into what a trip with G Adventures is like.
And Great Rail Journeys have the most incredible trip called ‘Machu Picchu & the Andes’ that includes rail journeys to fabulous places like the beautiful Lake Titicaca. You certainly don’t have to be under 39 to enjoy these luxury trips!
Going on a well organized tour can help with the difficulties of finding decent accommodation and reliable guides, as well as coping with altitude sickness. The trips to Machu Picchu you’ll find highlighted here are highly recommended and we are sure you will return having had a fantastic trip. You will certainly have very special memories that will stay with you for ever.
Inca Building Techniques
The buildings are constructed in the typical style of the Incas. They used polished stones, carefully cut and put together without mortar. This is an earthquake zone and this method of building meant that the stones the could move and settle after a shock.
The huge stones must have been dragged there by slaves who were forced to tackle mountain ascents, which are extremely steep, slippery and dangerous. Wheeled transport would have been next to useless. The myth that the Incas had not invented the wheel is known to be false because toys with wheels have been found. Nonetheless, in a country of dense vegetation and steep mountains, wheeled transport would have been of little use.
The truth about Machu Picchu:
What Happened to The Relics of Machu Picchu?
Bingham was of course first to discover the treasures. There were thousands of relics waiting to be uncovered. Bingham had most of them sent to Yale University for study and to be displayed in the University’s Peabody Museum.
This hoard of treasure, pottery, jewellery, statues and even bones and mummies, was supposed to have gone on loan for a limited time only, but like many other ancient objects discovered around the world and brought to Europe or America, most of them remained where they were despite Peruvian demands that they be returned for many years. Hundreds of precious artifacts were returned almost 100 years later, in 2011.
I hope we have inspired you to visit this magical part of the world, and to go with one of the companies we have recommended here because they are responsible and sustainable travel companies. Please help us to spread the word by sharing us with your friends.
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