Machu Picchu History

Machu Picchu History; the Inca city that was never found by the Spanish conquerors, was built on a mountain above the Urubamba Valley in Peru at 2,400 meters above sea level. It is located about 80 km northwest of Cusco, which was the capital of the Inca Empire.

The Incas began construction in the mid-fifteenth century, probably under the rule of Inca Pachacuteq with the aim of serving as a place of rest and as a sanctuary, although it was abandoned approximately one hundred years later after the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire (year 1532). Its main buildings, located in what is known by archaeologists as the Sacred citadel of Machu Picchu are:

  • The Intihuatana.
  • The Room of the Three Windows.
  • The Temple of the Sun.

History of Machu Picchu.

Archaeologists estimate that it was built during the 15th century by the Incas, but its function remains a mystery. It is also known that it was populated by a large number of inhabitants, but only by nobles, priests and the “aqllas” (virgins of the sun). There was also a population of peasants who worked the fields but did not live within the citadel.

Machu Picchu city is divided into 3 areas: 2 populated areas and the agricultural sector, which is a vast system of terraces and irrigation channels. The urban sector was divided in two districts, in one of them they are the most important temples like the one of the Sun, as well as the real chamber. Machu Picchu In the other neighborhood are the houses of the nobles and the convent of the “virgins of the sun”.

Between both neighborhoods there is a huge esplanade as a square. The surroundings are impressive, the citadel is built on the top of a hill surrounded by the Urubamba River and a mountain range, it seems the center of a ring of mountains. Perhaps the greatest attraction of Machu Picchu is the level of technological development achieved by its builders in terms of architecture and stone work.

The joints of the stones in some of the environments are so narrow that not even a pin could be inserted. The most significant stone is the “Intihuatana” or solar calendar, which allowed the Incas to know precisely the seasons and the weather throughout the year. However, many find in Machu Picchu more than history and ancient technologies, but also an energy and peace that surrounds all who come and visit such a mysterious place.


Machu Picchu History: Inca period (1438-1534)

In 1440 when Picchu was conquered by Pachacuteq the first Inca emperor, it was he who in 1450 ordered to build an urban complex with civil and religious buildings of great luxury as a refuge for the most select of the Inca aristocracy, a luxurious and well-kept mausoleum to receive the remains of the Pachacutec monarch. Nevertheless, some of its best constructions and the evident ceremonial character would demonstrate that this one was used like religious sanctuary.

The fortress was located on the eastern slope of the Vilcanota mountain range, a visit to the heart of the Inca Empire and the Andean and colonial culture. With the magnificent “Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu about 80 km from Cusco, the capital of Tahuantinsuyo. Its strategic geographical situation was chosen with admirable success. Surrounded by deep cliffs and far from the sight of strangers by a tangled jungle, the citadel of Machu Picchu possessed the quality of having a single and narrow entrance, which allowed, in case of a surprise attack, be defended by very few warriors.

It is believed that the population in Machu Picchu was between 300 and 1000 inhabitants belonging to the panaca of Pachacuteq, it was an unknown place for the lower castes and their routes forbidden to anyone who was not part of the small circle of the Inca. Within the valleys that formed the region of the valley are the administrative centers of Patallacta and Quentemarca which favored Machu Picchu for its agricultural sectors and thus provided food to the population. When dying Pachacuteq all his properties happened to be administered by his panaca and a new government of the Inca began Túpac Yupanqui (1470-1493) and Huayna Capac (1493-1529).

Machu Picchu History: The Colony and the Republic (XVII-XIX)

After the fall of Vilcabamba in 1572, Machu Picchu remained within the jurisdiction of several colonial plantation that changed owners during Republican times since 1821; It became a remote place away from the new roads and economic axes of Peru. Apparently the agricultural sector of Machu Picchu was uninhabited and therefore were land of interest for the people who made crops; but its urban sectors were not occupied by farmers but by the vegetation of a cloud forest.

The Huayna Picchu In 1865 during the trips that made the naturalist Antonio Raymondi step at the foot of the ruins without realizing the great constructions that existed there. However, in 1867 Augusto Berns not only discovered the ruins but also founded a mining company “Compañía Anónima Explotadora de las Huacas del Inca” to exploit the treasures that were housed there. Then between 1867 and 1870 during the government of José Balta, the company operated in the area and sold everything it found to Spanish and North American collectors.

Thus, in 1870 Harry Singer placed for the first time a map with the location of Machu Picchu and called Huayna Picchu as “Punta Huaca del Inca”. Then a second map is made in 1874 by the German Herman Gohring where he located and mentions both mountains in an exact place. Macchu Picchu, the best-known tourist enclave of Peru and one of the Wonders of the World until in 1880 Charles Wiener a French explorer confirms the existence of archaeological remains in the place and nullify the possibility of calling it “lost city”.

Machu Picchu History: Rediscovery  (1894-1911)

Agustín Lizárraga arrived at Machu Picchu on July 14, 1902, guiding to Gabino Sánchez, Enrique Palma and Justo Ochoa, cusquenian people; who left their names inscribed in the Temple of the Three Windows. There are also other informative data where it is related that Agustín Lizárraga had visited Machu Picchu with Luis Béjar in 1894.

Machu Picchu with the Inca On July 24, 1911, the American Hiram Bingham arrived at Machu Picchu, led by Melchor Arteaga and a Civil Guard sergeant named Carrasco; during their journey they found two families that lived there: the Recharte and the Álvarez who used the platforms of the south to cultivate. And it’s Pablo Recharte one of the sons of the family who guides Bingham towards the urban area covered by weeds.

Bingham was impressed to see so much wonder and asked for support to Yale University, National Geographic Society and the Peruvian Government to start the scientific study of the site so with the engineer Ellwood Erdis, the osteologist George Eaton, Toribio Recharte and Anacleto Álvarez and other workers from the Bingham area perform archaeological work in Machu Picchu from 1912 to 1915.

History of Machu Picchu since 1915:

Between 1924 and 1928 Martin Chambi and Juan Manuel Figueroa made a series of photographs in Machu Picchu which were published in different Peruvian magazines expressing great local interest in the ruins, turning them into a national symbol.

  • In 1981 Machu Picchu is established within the Protection Zones.
  • In 1983 Machu Picchu is part of the World Heritage List.
  • In 2007 Machu Picchu becomes part of the New 7 Wonders of the Modern World; where the Government declares every July 7 Day of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu