Machu Picchu

Summary

Machu Picchu (pronounced

According to documents from the mid-16th century, it had a private character. However, some of its best constructions and the evident ceremonial character of the main access road to the llaqta indicate its origin prior to Pachacútec and its presumed use as a religious sanctuary. Both uses, as a palace and as a sanctuary, would not have been incompatible. Even when its supposed military character is discussed, so the popular adjectives of “fortress” or “citadel” could have been surpassed.

Machu Picchu is considered, at the same time, a masterpiece of architecture and engineering. Its peculiar architectural and landscape characteristics, and the veil of mystery that has been woven around it in much of the literature published about the site, have made it one of the most famous tourist destinations on the planet, as well as one of the seven wonders of the world.

Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary in 1981 and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1983, as part of a whole cultural and ecological complex known as the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu. On July 7, 2007, Machu Picchu was declared one of the new seven wonders of the modern world in a ceremony held in Lisbon (Portugal), with the participation of one hundred million voters from around the world. Machu Picchu was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide poll on the Internet.

In the Quechua language, machu means “old” or “old man”, while picchu means “peak, mountain or prominence with a broad base ending in sharp points”; therefore, the name of the site means “old mountain”.

Location

It is located at 13° 9” 47″ south latitude and 72° 32” 44″ west longitude. It is part of the district of the same name, in the province of Urubamba, in the department of Cuzco, Peru. The nearest important city is Cuzco, the current regional capital and ancient capital of the Incas, 132 kilometers away.

The Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountains are part of a large orographic formation known as the Vilcabamba batholith, in the Central Cordillera of the Peruvian Andes. They are located on the left bank of the Urubamba Canyon, formerly known as Quebrada de Picchu, and are surrounded by the Vilcanota-Urubamba River. The Inca archaeological site is located halfway between the peaks of both mountains, 450 meters above the valley level and 2438 meters above sea level. The built-up area is approximately 530 meters long and 200 meters wide, with 172 buildings in its urban area. Biogeographically, it is located in the Peruvian yungas ecoregion.

The ruins themselves are located within an intangible territory of the National System of Natural Areas Protected by the State (SINANPE), called the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary, which extends over an area of 32 592 hectares (80 535 acres or 325.92 km²) of the Vilcanota-Urubamba river basin (the Willka mayu or ”sacred river” of the Incas). The Historic Sanctuary protects a number of endangered biological species and several Inca settlements, of which Machu Picchu is considered the most important.

Forms of access

The archaeological zone is accessible either from the post-Inca roads that reach it, or by using the Hiram Bingham road (which ascends the slope of the Machu Picchu hill from the old train station of Puente Ruinas, located at the bottom of the canyon). Neither way exempts the visitor from the entrance fee to the complex.

This road, however, is not part of Peru”s national road network. It starts in the town of Aguas Calientes, which in turn can only be accessed by rail (about three hours from Cuzco) or helicopter (30 minutes from Cuzco). The absence of a direct road to the Machu Picchu sanctuary is intentional and helps control the flow of visitors to the area, which, given its status as a national reserve, is particularly sensitive to crowds. This, however, has not prevented the disorderly growth (criticized by the cultural authorities) of Aguas Calientes, which lives by and for tourism, as there are hotels and restaurants of different categories in this place.

To get to Machu Picchu by the main Inca trail, you must hike for about three days. To do this, it is necessary to take a train or bus to km 82 of the Cusco-Aguas Calientes railroad, which coincides with the boundary of Machu Picchu National Park, from where the walk starts. Some visitors take a local bus from Cusco to Ollantaytambo (via Urubamba) and from there take a transport to the aforementioned km 82. Once there, they travel along the train tracks to cover the 32 km to Aguas Calientes. At present, the buses reach the hydroelectric plant located nine kilometers from Aguas Calientes, which is approximately three hours walking, which is the same route that the train takes.

Weather

The temperature is warm with humid air during the day and cool at night, ranging from 12 to 24 degrees Celsius. The area is generally very rainy, especially between November and March. The rains, which are copious, alternate rapidly with moments of intense sunshine.

Geography

The archaeological site has been built on the Vilcabamba batholith, composed of intrusive rocks dating back approximately 250 million years, Permo-Triassic intrusives mainly of white to grayish granite, cut by some tonalite and talceschist veins. The granitic massif is cut by a series of faults and diaclases that play an important role in the current conformation of the relief and its evolution. The Geological Map of the Machu Picchu Quadrangle (27-q) of the Peruvian Geological Mining and Metallurgical Institute shows two large regional faults that cut the area, called the Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu faults, with NE-SW orientation. These faults have had no recent activity.

The Picchu gorge, located halfway between the Andes and the Amazonian forest, was a region colonized by non-forest Andean populations from the Vilcabamba and Sacred Valley regions of Cuzco in search of an expansion of their agricultural frontiers. Archaeological evidence indicates that agriculture was practiced in the region since at least 760 B.C. A demographic explosion began in the Middle Horizon period, from 900 A.D., by groups not historically documented but possibly linked to the Tampu ethnic group of the Urubamba. It is believed that these people could have been part of the Ayarmaca federation, rivals of the first Incas of Cuzco. In that period, the “constructed” agricultural area (terraces) expands considerably. However, the specific location of the city in question (the rocky ridge that joins the Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountains) shows no signs of having had buildings before the 15th century.

Inca Period (1475-1534)

Around 1430, during his campaign to Vilcabamba, the Picchu ravine was conquered by Pachacutec, the first Inca of the Tahuantinsuyo (1438-1470). The location of Machu Picchu must have impressed the monarch because of its peculiar characteristics within the sacred Cusco geography, and for this reason he ordered the construction of an urban complex with luxurious civil and religious buildings around 1450.

It is believed that Machu Picchu had a mobile population like most of the Inca llactas, which ranged between 300 and 1000 inhabitants belonging to an elite (possibly members of the panaca of Pachacutec) and acllas. It has been shown that the agricultural force was composed of slaves mitimaes or mitmas (mitmaqkuna) from different corners of the empire, estimating that the largest number of these were the chankas, who also built the fortress, when they were enslaved and stripped of their lands (current Apurimac and Ayacucho) after being defeated by Pachacutec.

Machu Picchu was by no means an isolated complex, so the myth of the “lost city” and the “secret refuge” of the Inca rulers has no basis in fact. The valleys that converged in the ravine formed a densely populated region that dramatically increased its agricultural productivity after the Inca occupation in 1440. The Incas built many administrative centers there, the most important of which were Patallacta and Quente Marca, and abundant agricultural complexes formed by cultivation terraces. Machu Picchu depended on these complexes for food, as the fields of the agricultural sector of the city would have been insufficient to supply the pre-Hispanic population. Intraregional communication was possible thanks to the Inca road networks: eight roads reached Machu Picchu. The small city of Picchu was distinguished from neighboring towns by the singular quality of its main buildings.

Upon the death of Pachacútec, and in accordance with Inca royal customs, this and the rest of his personal properties would have passed to the administration of his panaca, which was to allocate the income produced to the cult of the mummy of the deceased Inca. It is presumed that this situation would have continued during the governments of Túpac Yupanqui (1470-1493) and Huayna Cápac (1493-1529).

Machu Picchu must have lost some of its importance when it had to compete in prestige with the personal properties of the successor sovereigns. In fact, the opening of a safer and wider road between Ollantaytambo and Vilcabamba (the Amaybamba valley) made the Picchu ravine route less used.

Transition period (1534-1572)

The Inca civil war (1531-32) and the Spanish invasion of Cuzco in 1534 must have considerably affected life at Machu Picchu. The peasant mass of the region was mainly composed of mitmas, settlers from different nations conquered by the Incas and brought there by force. They took advantage of the fall of the Cusco economic system to return to their lands of origin. The Inca resistance against the Spanish led by Manco Inca in 1536 summoned the nobles of the nearby regions to join his court in exile in Vilcabamba, and it is very likely that the main nobles of Picchu had then abandoned the city. Documents of the time indicate that the region was full of “depopulated” at that time. Picchu would have remained inhabited, as it was considered a tributary town of the Spanish encomienda of Ollantaytambo. That does not necessarily mean that the Spanish visited Machu Picchu frequently; in fact, we know that the tribute from Picchu was delivered to the Spanish once a year at the town of Ollantaytambo, and not “collected” locally. In any case, it is clear that the Spanish knew of the site, although there is no indication that it was a place frequently visited by the Spanish annually. Colonial documents even mention the name of the curaca (perhaps the last) of Machu Picchu in 1568: Juan Mácora. That he was called “Juan” indicates that he had been, at least nominally, baptized, and therefore subject to Spanish influence.

Another document indicates that the Inca Titu Cusi Yupanqui, who then reigned in Vilcabamba, requested that Augustinian friars come to evangelize “Piocho” around 1570. There is no known toponym in the area that sounds similar to “Piocho” other than “Piccho” or “Picchu”, which leads Lumbreras to suppose that the famous “extirpators of idolatries” could have arrived at the site and had something to do with the destruction and burning of the Torreón del Templo del Sol (Tower of the Temple of the Sun).

The Spanish soldier Baltasar de Ocampo wrote at the end of the 16th century about a village “on the top of a mountain” with “sumptuous” buildings that housed a great acllahuasi (“house of the chosen ones”) in the last years of the Inca resistance. The brief description of its surroundings reminds us of Picchu. The most interesting thing is that Ocampo says it is called “Pitcos”. The only place with a similar name is Vitcos, an Inca site in Vilcabamba completely different from the one described by Ocampo. The other candidate is, of course, Picchu, but it is not known to this day whether it is the same place or not. Ocampo indicates that in this place Túpac Amaru I, successor of Titu Cusi and last Inca of Vilcabamba, would have been raised.

Between the viceroyalty and the republic (XVII century-19th century)

After the fall of the kingdom of Vilcabamba in 1572 and the consolidation of Spanish power in the Central Andes, Machu Picchu remained within the jurisdiction of different haciendas that changed hands several times until Republican times (since 1821). However, it had already become a remote place, far from the new roads and economic axes of the Viceroyalty of Peru. The region was practically ignored by the viceroyalty (which did not order the construction of Christian temples or administer any settlement in the area), but not by the Andean people.

In fact, the agricultural sector of Machu Picchu does not seem to have been completely uninhabited or unknown: documents from 1657 allude to Machu Picchu as land of agricultural interest. Its main buildings, however, those of its urban area, do not seem to have been occupied and were soon won by the vegetation of the cloud forest.

Machu Picchu in the 19th century

In 1865, in the course of his exploratory travels through Peru, the Italian naturalist Antonio Raimondi passed by the ruins without knowing it and alluded to how sparsely populated the region was at the time. However, everything indicates that it was in those years when the area began to receive visits for interests other than the merely scientific ones.

In fact, a recently released investigation currently underway reveals information about a German businessman named Augusto Berns, who in 1867 not only “discovered” the ruins, but also founded a “mining” company to exploit the alleged “treasures” they housed (the Compañía Anónima Explotadora de las Huacas del Inca). According to this source, between 1867 and 1870, and with the permission of the government of José Balta, the company operated in the area and then sold “everything it found” to European and North American collectors.

Connected or not with this alleged company (whose existence awaits confirmation by other sources and authors), the fact is that it is at that time when mining prospecting maps begin to mention Machu Picchu. Thus, in 1870, the American Harry Singer places for the first time on a map the location of Machu Picchu and refers to Huayna Picchu as “Punta Huaca del Inca”. The name reveals an unprecedented relationship between the Incas and the mountain and even suggests a religious character (a huaca in the ancient Andes was a sacred place). A second map of 1874, prepared by the German Herman Gohring, mentions and locates in its exact place both mountains. Finally, in 1880, the French explorer Charles Wiener confirms the existence of archaeological remains on the site (he states “I was told of other cities, Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu”), although he cannot arrive at the location. In any case, it is clear that the existence of the alleged “lost city” had not been forgotten, as was believed until a few years ago.

Rediscovery of Machu Picchu (1894-1911)

The first direct references to visitors to the ruins of Machu Picchu indicate that Agustín Lizárraga, a tenant farmer from Cusco, arrived at the site on July 14, 1902, guiding fellow Cusquenians Gabino Sánchez, Enrique Palma and Justo Ochoa. The visitors left a graffiti with their names on one of the walls of the Temple of the Sun that was later verified by several people. There is information that suggests that Lizárraga had already visited Machu Picchu in the company of Luis Béjar in 1894. Lizárraga showed the constructions to the “visitors”, although the nature of his activities has not been investigated to date.

Hiram Bingham, an American history professor interested in finding the last Inca strongholds of Vilcabamba, heard about Lizárraga from his contacts with local landowners and arrived at Machu Picchu on July 24, 1911, guided by another land tenant, Melchor Arteaga, and accompanied by a sergeant of the Peruvian Civil Guard named Carrasco. They found two peasant families living there, the Recharte and Alvarez families, who used the terraces south of the ruins for farming and drank water from a still-functioning Inca canal that brought water from a spring. Pablo Recharte, one of the children of Machu Picchu, guided Bingham to the “urban area” covered by brush.

Bingham was very impressed by what he saw and sought the sponsorship of Yale University, the National Geographic Society and the Peruvian government to immediately begin the scientific study of the site. Thus, with the engineer Ellwood Erdis, the osteologist George Eaton, the direct participation of Toribio Recharte and Anacleto Alvarez, and a group of anonymous workers in the area, Bingham directed archaeological work in Machu Picchu from 1912 to 1915, a period in which the undergrowth was cleared and Inca tombs were excavated outside the walls of the city. The “public life” of Machu Picchu began in 1913 with the publication of all this in an article in the National Geographic magazine.

Although it is clear that Bingham did not discover Machu Picchu in the strict sense of the word (nobody did since it was never really “lost”), it is unquestionable that he had the merit of being the first person to recognize the importance of the ruins, studying them with a multidisciplinary team and disseminating his findings. This despite the fact that the archaeological criteria used were not the most appropriate from today”s perspective, and also despite the controversy that to this day surrounds the more than irregular departure from the country of the excavated archaeological material (consisting of at least 46,332 pieces), which only began to be returned to Peru in March 2011.

Machu Picchu since 1915

Between 1924 and 1928, Martín Chambi and Juan Manuel Figueroa took a series of photographs of Machu Picchu that were published in different Peruvian magazines, increasing local interest in the ruins and turning them into a national symbol. Over the decades, and especially since the opening in 1948 of a carriage road that climbed the slope of the mountain to the ruins from the train station, Machu Picchu became the main tourist destination in Peru. During the first two thirds of the twentieth century, however, the interest in its tourist exploitation was greater than that of conservation and study of the ruins, which did not prevent some notable researchers to advance in solving the mysteries of Machu Picchu, especially highlighting the work of the Viking Found directed by Paul Fejos on the Inca sites around Machu Picchu (“discovering” several establishments of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu) and the investigations of Luis E. Valcárcel that related for the first time the site with Pachacútec. It is from the 1970s that new generations of archaeologists (Chávez Ballón, Lorenzo, Ramos Condori, Zapata, Sánchez, Valencia, Gibaja), historians (Glave and Remy, Rowe, Angles), astronomers (Dearborn, White, Thomson) and anthropologists (Reinhard, Urton) are engaged in the investigation of the ruins and their past.

The establishment of an Ecological Protection Zone around the ruins in 1981, the inclusion of Machu Picchu on the World Heritage List in 1983, and the adoption of a Master Plan for the sustainable development of the region in 2005 have been the most important milestones in the effort to conserve Machu Picchu and its surroundings. However, these efforts have been hindered by poor partial restorations in the past, forest fires such as the one in 1997, and political conflicts that have arisen in the nearby towns for a better distribution of the resources obtained by the State in the administration of the ruins.

Recent events

The built-up area at Machu Picchu is 530 meters long by 200 meters wide and includes at least 172 enclosures. The complex is clearly divided into two large zones: the agricultural zone, formed by sets of cultivation terraces, which is located to the south; and the urban zone, which is, of course, where the occupants lived and where the main civil and religious activities took place. Both areas are separated by a wall, a moat and a stairway, elements that run parallel along the eastern slope of the mountain. An appreciable part of the ruins that can be seen today are in fact recent reconstructions, as can be seen when comparing the images obtained in the 1910s with those of today.

Agricultural zone

The terraces (cultivation terraces) of Machu Picchu look like large steps built on the hillside. They are structures formed by a stone wall and a filling of different layers of material (large stones, small stones, rubble, clay and soil) that facilitate drainage, preventing water from soaking into them (taking into account the high rainfall in the area) and crumbling its structure. This type of construction allowed crops to be grown on them until the first decade of the 20th century. Other terraces of lesser width are found in the lower part of Machu Picchu, all around the city. Their function was not agricultural but to serve as retaining walls.

Five large constructions are located on the platforms to the east of the Inca trail that leads to Machu Picchu from the south. They were used as colcas or warehouses. To the west of the road are two other large sets of platforms: some concentric semicircular and others straight.

Urban area

A wall about 400 meters long divides the city from the agricultural area. Parallel to the wall runs a “moat” used as the main drainage of the city. At the top of the wall is the gate of Machu Picchu, which had an internal closing mechanism. The urban area has been divided by current archaeologists into groups of buildings denominated by a number between 1 and 18. The scheme proposed by Chávez Ballón in 1961 is still valid, dividing it into a hanan (high) sector and a hurin (low) sector according to the traditional bipartition of Andean society and hierarchy. The physical axis of this division is an elongated plaza, built on terraces at different levels according to the slope of the mountain.

The second most important axis of the city forms a cross with the previous one, crossing practically the entire width of the ruins from east to west. It consists of two elements: a wide and long stairway that serves as the “main street” and a set of elaborate water fountains that run parallel to it. At the intersection of both axes are located the residence of the Inca, the temple-observatory of the tower, and the first and most important of the water fountains.

Set 1 includes structures related to the care of those who came to the city through the gate (a “vestibular area”), stables for camelids, workshops, kitchens and rooms. All this on the east side of the road, in a succession of parallel streets that go down the slope of the mountain. The most important construction, the vestibular building, had two floors and several entrances. On the left hand side of the entrance road there are rooms of lesser rank that would be related to the work in the quarries, located in the vicinity of this sector. All the constructions are of common rigging and many of them were plastered and painted.

It is accessed through a double jamb doorway, which remained closed (there are remains of a security mechanism). The main building is known as “Torreón”, made of finely carved blocks and used for ceremonies related to the June solstice. It was used for ceremonies related to the June solstice. One of its windows shows traces of having had embedded ornaments that were torn off at some point in the history of Machu Picchu, destroying part of its structure. In addition, there are traces of a large fire in the place. The keep is built on a large rock under which there is a small cave that has been completely lined with fine masonry. It is believed that it was a mausoleum and that mummies rested in its large niches. Lumbreras even speculates that there are indications to affirm that it could have been the mausoleum of Pachacútec and that his mummy was here until shortly after the Spanish irruption in Cuzco.

Of the constructions destined to housing this is the finest, largest and best distributed of Machu Picchu. Its access door leads to the first fountain of the city and, crossing the “street” formed by the great staircase, to the Temple of the Sun. It includes two rooms with large monolithic lintels and well carved stone walls. One of these rooms has access to a service room with a drainage channel. The complex includes a corral for camelids and a private terrace overlooking the eastern side of the city.

This is the name given to a group of constructions arranged around a square courtyard. All the evidence indicates that the place was destined to different rituals. It includes two of the best buildings of Machu Picchu, which are formed by carved rocks of great size: the Temple of the Three Windows, whose walls of large polygonal blocks were assembled like a puzzle, and the Main Temple, of more regular blocks, which is believed to have been the main ceremonial precinct of the city. Attached to the latter is the so-called “priest”s house” or “chamber of ornaments”. There are indications that suggest that the overall complex was not completed.

It is a hill whose flanks were converted into terraces, taking the form of a large pyramid with a polygonal base. It includes two long access stairways, to the north and south, the latter being especially interesting for being a long stretch carved into a single rock. At the top, surrounded by elite buildings, is the Intihuatana stone (”where the sun is tied”), one of the most studied objects of Machu Picchu, which has been related to a number of places considered sacred, from which clear alignments are established between astronomical events and the surrounding mountains.

This is the name given to a flat-faced stone placed on a wide pedestal. It is a landmark that marks the northern end of the city and is the starting point of the road to Huayna Picchu.

It is a large architectural complex dominated by three large kanchas symmetrically arranged and connected to each other. Its doors, of identical construction, overlook the main square of Machu Picchu. It includes houses and workshops.

It is the largest complex in the city, despite which it had only one entrance door, something that might suggest that it was the Acllahuasi (or ”house of chosen women”) of Machu Picchu, dedicated to religious service and fine craftsmanship. It includes a famous well-carved stone room on whose floor are two rocky outcrops carved in the shape of circular mortars, supposedly for grinding grains. Some authors think that these were filled with water and the stars were reflected in them. The complex includes evidence of ritual use; there are altars and even a court built around a large rock. Part of its environments show evidence of having been elite residences.

It is an ample group of constructions, of not always regular outline, that takes advantage of the contours of the rocks. It includes some caves with evidence of ritual use and a large carved stone in the center of a large courtyard in which many believe they see the representation of a condor. To the south of the “condor” are elite dwellings, which had the only private access to one of the sources of Machu Picchu. Between the dwellings and the courtyard of the condor, clear remains of constructions dedicated to raising guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus) have been identified.

It is a set formed by a large staircase along which runs a system of 16 artificial waterfalls, most of which are carefully carved in polygonal blocks and surrounded by channels carved into the rock. The water comes from a spring on the heights of the Machu Picchu hill that was channeled in the time of the Empire. An additional system at the top of the mountain collects rain seepage from the mountain and diverts it to the main channel.

Quarry area

In the upper part, immediately after entering through the main street, there are six rooms, connected by a staircase. They are rustic constructions that surely served as housing for the guardians of the main door, as well as for the stonemasons, carvers and stone workers, since the quarry is very close to this grouping.

In archaeological excavations, pots, plates, water bowls, wells, a stone mill and burnt earth have been found; from these it can be deduced that cooking was done for a large number of people and chicha was prepared (excavations by Julinho Zapara). Also in relation to this area, a large number of tools and very hard stones were found.

This quarry area shows a diversity of carved or semi-carved rocks, with cuts for construction, including channels, inlets and protrusions, half-cut rocks and ramps to move them. The enclosures of this area are directly related to the suppliers of construction material for the different zones or groupings of the city of Machu Picchu.

Originally the whole area where the city of Machu Picchu was settled was a large quarry that geologists call “granite chaos”. The rocks, which were transformed into lithic polyhedrons and transported to the site, are of different qualities. There they received the finishing and final carving. The polishing would be done after being placed on the facing; for example, in the temple of the animals.

As a curious detail, it is worth mentioning that there is a stone with slits or cracks made to extract new stones during some of the restorations. Some misinformed guides tend to show it, affirming that wet logs were placed in the grooves that, when expanding, produced the fracture. Such an explanation is only possible in the imagination.

Hydraulic and soil engineering

A stone city built on top of an “isthmus” between two mountains and between two geological faults, in a region subjected to constant earthquakes and, above all, to copious rains all year round, poses a challenge for any builder: to prevent the entire complex from crumbling. According to Alfredo Valencia and Keneth Wright, “the secret of Machu Picchu”s longevity is its drainage system”. Indeed, the floor of its non-roofed areas is provided with a drainage system consisting of layers of gravel (crushed stones) and rocks to prevent rainwater from pooling. 129 drainage channels extend throughout the urban area, designed to prevent splashing and erosion, mostly emptying into the “moat” that separates the urban area from the agricultural area, which was actually the main drainage of the city. It is estimated that sixty percent of the construction effort of Machu Picchu was in making the foundations on terraces filled with rubble for good drainage of excess water.

Orientation of buildings

There is solid evidence that the builders took into account astronomical and ritual criteria for construction, according to studies by Dearborn, White, Thomson and Reinhard, among others. Indeed, the alignment of some important buildings coincides with the solar azimuth during the solstices in a constant and therefore not casual way, with the sunrise and sunset points at certain times of the year and with the summits of the surrounding mountains.

Architecture

The rigging of the stone walls was basically of two types.

No original roof has been preserved, but there is consensus that most of the constructions had a gable or hipped roof; there was even a conical roof over the “torreón”, and it was formed by a framework of alder (Alnus acuminata) trunks tied together and covered by layers of ichu (Stipa ichu). The fragility of this type of thatch and the copiousness of the rains in the region made it necessary for these roofs to have steep slopes of up to 63º. Thus, the height of the roofs often doubled the height of the rest of the building.

Machu Picchu, as an integral part of a region of great economic movement in the time of Pachacutec, was integrated into the network of Inca roads of the Empire. Using these roads, it is still possible to access other nearby Inca complexes that are of great interest. To the north, along the forks of the Huayna Picchu road, you can reach the so-called Temple of the Moon or the top of the mountain where there are Inca constructions. To the west is the road that leads to Intipata and passes through the famous drawbridge. Another road, by which Agustín Lizárraga ascended, leads to the river and to San Miguel.

To the south, however, is the best known and the main route of all, which is the most popular trekking route in Peru. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a three to four day trek that crosses what, at the end of the 15th century, was the main access route to Machu Picchu, starting at the Llactapata complex and passing through the ceremonial centers of Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca and Huiñay Huayna, to end at the Intipunku tambo, the entrance “sentry box” to Machu Picchu”s domains and the final point of the trek.

New wonder of the world

On July 7, 2007, Machu Picchu was chosen as one of the new seven wonders of the modern world, a private initiative of New Open World Corporation (NOWC), created by the Swiss Bernard Weber, not needing the endorsement of any institution or government to continue with its electoral purposes and allow the selection of the wonders classified by the vote of more than one hundred million voters. This vote was supported by the government of Alan Garcia Perez, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism, which resulted in a large participation of the Peruvian people as a whole and internationally. Upon learning the results, President Alan Garcia declared July 7 as “Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary Day” by supreme decree, to remember the importance of the sanctuary to the world, recognize the participation of the Peruvian people in the vote, and promote tourism.

The New Seven Wonders of the Modern World were chosen by popular vote on the basis of aesthetic, economic, tourism and recreational criteria rather than for their historical importance or artistic merit, so they do not have the backing of institutions such as UNESCO. Nevertheless, the distinction has a great echo, which derives in an important additional attraction for attracting tourism. In fact, Machu Picchu is today Peru”s main tourist destination with 600,000 visitors.

Cinema

Music

The song “Kilimanjaro”, from the South Indian film Tamil Enthiran (2010), was filmed in Machu Picchu. Sanction for the filming was granted only after direct intervention by the Indian government.

Panoramic views

Sources

  1. Machu Picchu
  2. Machu Picchu