The Powerful Incan Empire: 7 Interesting Facts About Machu Picchu

A trip to Machu Picchu will mean you’re visiting one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The Incas built this estate and it’s become one of the most iconic must-see attractions in South America.

Get to know a little bit more about this ancient site before you travel with these seven interesting facts about Machu Picchu.

1. Getting Used to the Altitude

Machu Picchu is set on the side of a cliff almost eight thousand feet above sea level. If you’re planning to visit, you’ll need to prepare yourself for the physical endurance of the hike to get there.

To avoid any possible altitude sickness, you should spend a few days in Cusco beforehand. Taking one of the Machu Picchu Travel packages available is a good way to ensure you get there safely and efficiently.

2. The Three Structures

The complex consists of more than a hundred and fifty buildings, with everything from baths to temples. It’s organized around three main structures, the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows.

3. A Feat of Engineering

More than six hundred terraces were built to make sure the buildings wouldn’t slide down the mountain. A massive canal was designed to bring water for the fountains and irrigation systems.

The structures were built from very heavy granite stones. It’s thought these must have been pushed up the mountains. Each stone was chiseled so that they are all fitted together like a jigsaw without the need for mortar.

4. Meet Some Ghosts

A blanket of mist usually covers Machu Picchu until around midday. You really feel like you’re living in the clouds. The story goes that spirits rose from the ground to take the people there away. You may find your guide carries a mirror for protection.

5. The Quechuan Languages

The Incas spoke a language called Quechua. It’s still spoken today in parts of the Peruvian highlands. ‘Machu’ means ‘old’ in Quechua. ‘Pikchu’ means ‘pyramid’ or ‘cone.’ Together the words have come to be known as ‘Old Mountain.’

6. The Spanish Conquerors

When the Spanish brought the Inca Empire to an end, they eradicated many cities. They don’t seem to have stumbled across Machu Picchu though. It’s thought that an outbreak of smallpox may have killed Machu Picchu’s inhabitants earlier on.

The site remained virtually untouched until the beginning of the twentieth century. That’s when a Professor from Yale University found it covered in thick vegetation.

7. A Vacation Home

The story goes that Machu Picchu was a royal estate constructed under the orders of the ninth Inca ruler, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui. He would probably have used it as a holiday home for himself and his family.

His personal building was next to the Temple of the Sun and had the only private toilet on the complex.

Interesting Facts About Machu Picchu

Our seven interesting facts about Machu Picchu are there to whet your appetite. Nothing beats experiencing this amazing place yourself though.

Continue reading our Americas section for more great ideas for the adventure of a lifetime.

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