6 facts on... Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, Peru’s most important archaeological site, was built in the 15th century by Sapa Inca Pachacuti either as a fortress or a retreat for his family and housed around 1,000 people. Construction of the citadel was never finished, as the Incas abandoned the site in 1532 shortly before the arrival of the conquistadors in South America. Meaning ‘Old Mountain’ in Quechua, the language of the Incas, Machu Picchu was declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.
The UNESCO site is located at an altitude of 2,430 m above sea level, which is almost 1,000 m below Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca empire. It sits between the mountains of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu high above the Urubamba River.
1) All the buildings are made of hand carved stone, fitted together perfectly with no cement to bind them and no wheel to carry them, as the tool was unknown to the Inca.
2) The citadel is an early example of earthquake-resistant design as the mortar-free construction allows the walls to move slightly and resettle without collapsing.
3) Over 75% of the skeletal remains found at Machu Picchu are female, which has led some archeologists to think the city was a type of harem.
4) Its remote mountaintop location protected the citadel from the landslides that afflicted the steep-sided lower valleys and kept Machu Picchu from being discovered by the conquistadors.
5) Around 60% of the construction is underground as foundations, drainage and water irrigation channels.
6) Machu Picchu is divided in two distinct areas: agricultural and urban.
Cox & Kings arrangetailor-made holidays to Peru.
As the country prepares to celebrate 100 years since the American explorer and University of Yale professor Hiram Bingham rediscovered the Inca’s Lost City in 1911, Cox & Kings shares some facts you may not already know about Machu Picchu.