"Your Guide to the Inca Empire"
About Peru History

The Enigmatic Magic of Machu Picchu

by Rodney
(UK)

High above the Urubamba Valley in Peru lies the once forgotten city of Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu means Old Mountain in one of the Peruvian dialects because the lost city is found on this mountain’s summit. Part of the city is found on a different mountain which is called Huayna Picchu and it means Young Mountain.


The mountains were the Lost City was founded was part of the empire of the Inca king Pachcuti who lived in 1438 to 1471. The immediate mountainside is perpetually covered by clouds. The structure of the city is mostly an arrangement of single buildings that are clustered along streets and are usually positioned near plazas and terraces. Majority of the structures were identified to be residences and are similar in design to those found in the city of Cuzco.

Building material is chiefly white granite masonry. Buildings that serve a special purpose are partly carved from the bedrock and partly built from the same white granite used in residential buildings.

Machu Picchu is certainly invisible from the valley below it that is why the Spanish conquistadores have failed to plunder the city unlike other Inca settlements. It was only in the 20th century, particularly in 1911 when a Yale academic named Hirham Bingham III became the first foreigner to set eyes on the lost city.

Today, Machu Picchu is Peru’s greatest tourist attraction. Its grandeur lies mostly in its improbable location high above the Andes and the excellent state of preservation of Inca civilization. Machu Picchu exists for real unlike the fabled city of Paititi, better known as El Dorado or the City of Gold.

Another bastion of Incan civilization existed and finding it was Bingham’s real motivation in coming to Peru. That city is called Vilcabamba and it was eventually found by Bingham. Similar to the fabled city of El Dorado, Machu Picchu is full of mystery. The reason why it was abandoned by its inhabitants 100 years after it was built remains unknown.

The enigma that follows Machu Picchu makes the site more interesting for tourists. Ascending the slopes of the mountain where Machu Picchu is nestled, no one can honestly think of any reason why the Incas should built a self contained city. But they were able to do it and only a privileged few can be a witness to how the city reveals itself deep in the clouds that surrounds it like a veil. Once you are atop Machu Picchu, time stands still.

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