Hidden high up in the mountains of Peru, this Incan gem often inspires numerous questions. What is the story of Machu Picchu? How old is it? Who discovered it? And most importantly, what makes it a quintessential item on your bucket list? Our comprehensive Q&A guide aims to satisfy your curiosity and guide you as you plan your trip to this spellbinding destination. From its high-altitude setting to its age and the journey to get there, we’re unveiling the fascinating secrets that Machu Picchu holds. Ready for a quest to the “City in the Sky”? Let’s dive in!
What is Machu Picchu?
Often called the “City in the Sky,” Machu Picchu is an Incan archaeological treasure tucked away in the lush green mountains of southern Peru. This UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 15th century serves as a testament to the engineering prowess and spiritual significance of the Incan Empire.
Where is Machu Picchu?
Perched 2,430 metres above sea level in the tropics of the Cusco region in Peru, Machu Picchu boasts a unique geographical panorama. The highland site, encased by the magnificent Andes, oversees the winding Urubamba River valley.
How high is Machu Picchu?
The ancient city of Machu Picchu sits imposingly at around 7,972 feet (2,430 metres) above sea level. This elevated location offers breathtaking views but can sometimes lead to mild altitude sickness. Adopting altitude-acclimatising measures can help mitigate this.
What’s in a Name: Machu Picchu?
Derived from the Quechua language of the Inca civilization, “Machu Picchu” translates into “Old Peak” or “Old Mountain.” This name mirrors the awe-striking mountainous backdrop against which the historical city lays.
Who Discovered Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu remained hidden from the world until 1911, when American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to global attention. Bingham initially embarked on a search for the lost city of Vilcabamba but ended up unearthing the concealed marvel that is Machu Picchu.
How Old is Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu’s construction is dated back to the mid-15th century during the reign of Inca emperor Pachacuti. This makes the architectural marvel approximately 600 years old! The Incas abandoned the city a century later due to the Spanish Conquest, leaving behind an untouched historical gem.
What Makes Machu Picchu Significant?
Machu Picchu reflects the zenith of Inca architecture and culture. Built as a royal estate and religious sanctuary, the site was a significant ceremonial, agricultural, and residential area. Its strategic location and concealed existence helped preserve its rich architecture and cultural heritage from Spanish destructors.
Can You Visit Machu Picchu Without a Guide?
Visitors were once allowed to explore Machu Picchu independently. However, to preserve the site’s integrity, recent regulations necessitate a licensed guide for the tour.
How Long is the Train Ride to Machu Picchu?
Typically, the train ride from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, the base town for most Machu Picchu expeditions, takes about 3 to 4 hours, depending on the train service you choose. From Aguas Calientes, frequent shuttle buses make the 25-minute journey to the citadel.