The ruins of Machu Picchu were once the 15th century citadel of the Incas, which held sway over and around the area of modern-day Peru. It is situated in the Eastern Cordillera Mountains of the Andes in the southwestern Machu Picchu district of the country. The citadel sprawls on a mountain ridge that rises 797 feet or 2,430 meters above sea level above the Sacred Valley, a major tourist destination in itself due to the various archeological sites in the area, including the ruins of the citadel.
Most archeologists agree that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti who reigned be from 1438 to 1472. The citadel is often erroneously referred to as the ‘Lost City of the Incas’, a sobriquet more fittingly applied to the Vilcabamba. Machu Pichchu is the most familiar remnant of the Inca civilization. Built around 1450, it was abandoned a mere hundred years later after the Spanish conquest.
Though it was known to the locals, the Spanish themselves never heard of it. It remained in obscurity till the American historian Hiram Bingham III visited the ruins in 1911 and brought it to the attention of the world.
Machu Picchu was designed and constructed in classical Inca style complete with dry-stone walls. Machu Picchu had three main structures: The first was the notable ritual stone known as Intihuatana. The stone was associated with the astronomic calendar or clock of the Incas. The other two are the ‘Temple of the Sun’ and the ‘Room of the Three Windows’.
The Machu Picchu ruins were declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary in 1981. Most of the outlying buildings have been reconstructed to give tourists a good perception of how they appeared originally. The citadel was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site on 1983 and restoration work continues. The ruins are so popular that in an online International poll, they were voted as one of New Seven Wonders of the World.
Looking for specific information about any heritage destination?