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Discover 10 secrets of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Peru, continues to intrigue and fascinate people from all over the world. This ancient Inca city nestled in the Andes Mountains holds many secrets waiting to be uncovered. In this article, we will delve into the top 10 secrets of Machu Picchu.

1. Location and discovery 

The location of these Inca ruins is one of the secrets of Machu Picchu that adds to its mystique. The city was strategically placed on the mountain ridge above the Pacaymayo River. This location provided the inhabitants with a natural defense against potential invaders. The surrounding mountains also helped to protect the city from the harsh elements, such as wind and rain.

Despite its strategic location, Machu Picchu was abandoned and forgotten for centuries after the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. It wasn’t until 1911 that the city was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, an American explorer who was searching for the lost city of Vilcabamba. Bingham stumbled upon Machu Picchu during one of his expeditions and was amazed by what he saw.

Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu brought the ancient city back into the limelight. Also, it sparked a renewed interest in the history and culture of the Inca civilization. Since then, Machu Picchu has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America, attracting millions of visitors every year.

Inca Trail

2. Its name means “Old peak”

Another of the secrets of Machu Picchu is its name and its significance to the Inca civilization. The name “Machu Picchu” means “old peak” in Quechua, which was the language spoken by the Incas. The city was named after the mountain on which it was built, which rises to an elevation of 3,082 meters.

The mountain itself is believed to have had significant spiritual and cultural importance to the Inca people. They believed that the mountain was a sacred place, inhabited by powerful spirits that could communicate with the divine. The mountain was also believed to have been a key point of reference for astronomical observations and rituals.

The city of Machu Picchu itself was believed to have been built as a retreat for Inca nobility. Also, it probably was a center for religious and ceremonial activities. The intricate stonework and architectural features of the city are a testament to the advanced engineering and design skills of the Inca civilization.

Discover 10 secrets of Machu Picchu

3. Machu Picchu was built using the ashlar technique

The ashlar technique used in the construction of Machu Picchu is another secret that adds to its mystique. The technique involves cutting and shaping stones to fit together perfectly without the use of mortar. Thus, the structures built with the Ashlar technique display a seamless and impressive look. The stones used in the construction of the city were quarried from nearby mountains and transported to the site by hand. The workers probably used a system of ramps and pulleys that allowed them to move the heavy stones up the steep mountain slopes.

One of the most impressive features of Machu Picchu’s stonework is the precision with which the stones were cut and fitted together. The walls of the city are composed of enormous stone blocks that fit together so perfectly that they do not require any additional support. The stones were cut to fit together so tightly that not even a thin blade can fit between them.

The precision of the stonework at Machu Picchu is a testament to the engineering and architectural prowess of the Inca civilization. It is also a testament to their reverence for the mountains and the natural environment.

Discover 10 secrets of Machu Picchu

4. Its real purpose is still unknown

The purpose of Machu Picchu is another secret that has fascinated researchers and visitors alike. It is believed that the city was built as a royal estate for the Inca emperor Pachacutec. However, there is still much that is not fully understood about the purpose and function of the city.

Some researchers have suggested that Machu Picchu may have served as a center for religious and ceremonial activities. Others believe that it may have been an important administrative center for the Inca Empire. Still, according to some theories, the city may have been used as a retreat for the Inca elite. It probably served as a place where they could escape the stresses of court life and enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the mountains.

Whatever its purpose may have been, there is no denying the incredible beauty and sophistication of Machu Picchu. The city is laid out in a series of terraces and platforms. Its structures range from simple living quarters to impressive temples and palaces. The intricate stonework and engineering feats of the city are a testament to the advanced skills and knowledge of the Inca civilization.

Discover 10 secrets of Machu Picchu

5. The citadel is surrounded by terraces

The terraces are another of the secrets of Machu Picchu that adds to the wonder and amazement of this ancient city. These agricultural terraces were built into the mountainside. They were used to grow crops such as maize, potatoes, and quinoa, which were important staples in the Inca diet. The terraces were designed to take advantage of the natural contours of the mountain. Also, they were engineered to allow for efficient irrigation and drainage.

The agricultural terraces at Machu Picchu are a testament to the advanced agricultural knowledge and engineering skills of the Inca people. They were able to cultivate crops in an environment that was often challenging and inhospitable. Also, they used innovative techniques such as terracing, irrigation, and crop rotation to maximize the productivity of the land.

The terraces at Machu Picchu also served as an important symbol of the Inca’s connection to the natural world. They were built in harmony with the surrounding environment, using materials that were readily available and sustainable. They were also designed to be aesthetically pleasing. The terraces display symmetrical rows that stretch out across the mountainside like a work of art.

Discover 10 secrets of Machu Picchu

6. The entrance to the citadel is marked by the Inti Punku

The Sun Gate, or Inti Punku in Quechua, is yet another of the secrets of Machu Picchu that visitors should not miss. This stone structure is located at the entrance to the city. It is believed to have been a checkpoint for visitors. Also, it is thought that only high-ranking officials, such as the Inca emperor and his family, were allowed to enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate.

Today, visitors can hike the Inca Trail to reach the Sun Gate. They can experience the same awe-inspiring view of Machu Picchu that the Inca elite would have seen centuries ago. From the Sun Gate, visitors can take in the stunning panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and the Pacaymayo River. They can marvel at the impressive architecture and engineering feats of the Inca civilization.

In addition to its stunning views, the Sun Gate is also an important symbol of the Inca’s connection to the sun and the natural world. The Inca believed that the sun was a powerful deity. Therefore, the sun played a central role in their religious and cultural practices. The Sun Gate was built to align with the rising sun on the winter solstice. Also, it was a place where the Inca could connect with the divine and receive blessings for the coming year.

Machu Picchu

7. One of its most famous structures is the Temple of the Sun

The Temple of the Sun is another impressive structure and secret of Machu Picchu that visitors should not miss. This circular structure is located in the heart of the city. It is believed to have been a place of worship for the Inca sun god, Inti. The temple was likely used for important religious ceremonies and rituals. Also, it was an important symbol of the Inca’s connection to the natural world and the power of the sun.

One of the most impressive features of the Temple of the Sun is its precise alignment with the rising and setting of the sun during the solstices. The temple’s circular design and precise stonework allowed the Inca to accurately track the movement of the sun throughout the year. Also, it allowed them to perform important religious ceremonies at specific times of the day and year.

Temple of the Sun

8. The Intihuatana probably was a sundial

Another of the secrets of Machu Picchu is the Intihuatana Stone, a carved rock located in the center of the city. This stone is an impressive example of Inca engineering and astronomy. It is believed to have been used as a sundial and calendar by the ancient civilization.

The name “Intihuatana” means “hitching post of the sun” in Quechua, the language spoken by the Inca. The stone is aligned with the sun during the equinoxes, and it is believed to have spiritual and astronomical significance for the Inca people. According to Inca tradition, the stone was used by priests to tie the sun to the earth at the time of the solstices and equinoxes.

The Intihuatana Stone is also thought to have been an important religious and ceremonial site for the Inca. Thus, it may have been used for important rituals and offerings. The stone’s design is thought to represent important cultural and religious concepts. Thus, it offers a window into the rich mythology and belief systems of the Inca civilization.


9. Machu Picchu has a complex water system

Another of the secrets of Machu Picchu is its sophisticated water system, which was designed to channel water throughout the city for drinking, washing, and agriculture. This impressive engineering feat allowed the Inca to thrive in this remote and mountainous region, and it is still functioning today.

The city has a series of canals, and drainage systems that were designed to channel water from natural springs and rivers to various parts of the city. The water was distributed through a complex system of channels and aqueducts that ran through the city’s buildings and streets. The Incas also built underground drainage systems to prevent flooding and erosion during the rainy season.

The water system at Machu Picchu was designed with great precision and care, taking into account the city’s topography and natural resources. The canals were carefully engineered to maintain a constant flow of water, and the fountains were designed to create beautiful water displays that were both functional and decorative.

Inca ruins

10. The citadel is inhabited by numerous llamas

Last but not least, one of the most delightful secrets of Machu Picchu is the llamas that roam freely around the city. These gentle creatures are a part of the cultural heritage of the region and are considered sacred by the Inca. They were also used for transportation and their wool was used for clothing.

Today, the llamas add a unique charm to Machu Picchu and are a popular attraction for visitors. They can be seen wandering around the terraces, the Sun Gate, and the Temple of the Sun, adding to the mystical and magical atmosphere of this ancient city.

Visitors to Machu Picchu can also interact with the llamas and take photos with them, making it a fun and memorable experience. However, it is important to treat the llamas with respect and not to touch them without permission from their caretakers.


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