Facts About Machu Picchu – All you need to know before going!

Facts about Machu Picchu

Discover the secret facts of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is undoubtedly the most important tourism destination in South America. Every day, around 3000 people are arriving to visit this ancient Inca Citadel. However, there are still many questions about Machu Picchu nowadays, below find the most interesting facts about Machu Picchu.

Best 8 Historcal facts about Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was built by Inca Pachacuti.

Peruvian culture started somewhere around 5000 B.C. Caral in the north of Lima is one of the oldest civilizations in Peru; they lived in the desert and survived trading with their neighbors while Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, and India were developing.

Hiram Bigham and his team


The Incas appear in the history line around the 1300s. Many Inca cities were built over the foundation of past civilizations like Cusco, the capital. However, no traces of earlier civilization were found in Machu Picchu. This means that the Incas were the first to arrive at these mountains. Machu Picchu was built between 1400 AD to 1500 AD. This period belongs to Pachacuti, the 9th Inca ruler, and his son Túpac Inca Yupanqui.


Machu Picchu was abandoned after the Spanish Invasion.

Despite many theories of diseases, wars, and hunger in Machu Picchu, it might have caused the people to abandon the great citadel suddenly. Nowadays, we know that Machu Picchu was still inhabited during the first years of the conquest and abandoned during the retrieve into Vilcabamba, the last capital of the Incas.

Machu Picchu was never lost.

Hiram Bingham arrives at Machu Picchu on the morning of July 24th, 1911. He found 3 families living at the first building right after the entrances: Bingham’s first guide was a little boy 11 years old named “Pablito,” he used to play inside Machu Picchu and knew the Inca city by hand, all this was documented in the first pictures taken in black and white.

Machu Picchu was not Discovered by Hiram Bingham.

When Hiram Bingham arrived in 1911, he found in the temple of the 3 windows and painting saying “Agustin Lizarraga 1902”, he was a farmer from the Santa Teresa town next to Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, he fell into the Urubamba River in 1912 and died.

Hiram Bigham is the scientific Discoverer of Machu Picchu.

Everybody agrees that Hiram Bingham did not discover Machu Picchu. However, Hiram Bingham gave scientific value, historical value and brought the attention back to this citadel. In 1913, “National Geographic” magazine published a detailed article introducing Machu Picchu and its work, revealing the great citadel.

The Inca Trail was used as a Pilgrimage path to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu has 2 ancient access routes: One is an easy and simple access path along the Urubamba River banks, allowing the arrival to the great citadel in just one day. The other one is the stunning Inca Trail that climbs mountains and arrives at the different temples in the mountain before arriving at Machu Picchu.

Many historians suggest that the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu had a ceremonial purpose, a hike used to prepare travelers for Machu Picchu, the Sacred Citadel. The Inca Trail might represent the first Inca King, Manco Inca’s journey when they exited the Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca and traveled across the Mountains to Cusco valley, where they found the capital of the great empire.

Yale Returned Artifacts To Peru.

Hiram Bingham III excavated in Machu Picchu between 1912 and 1915, and the artifact found during this time left Peru under a special governmental decree. The Materials were loaned to yale University for research, and they needed to be returned. Some artifacts were returned after World War I, but most of them were kept in the school.

In 2008, Peru’s government filed a lawsuit against Yale, and in 2012, after a partnership agreement between Yale University and the Univerity of Cusco, all artifacts were returned.

Machu Picchu is closed during Covid 19 Pandemic.

Machu Picchu was suddenly closed on the 16th of March 2020, the date that Peru started a rigorous and long quarantine to reduce the effect of Coronavirus. After many months in lockdown, Machu Picchu was finally open in the first days of November 2020. However, due to the second wave and the new variant of Covid 19, Machu Picchu has closed again from February 1st to the 15th.

Best 8 Architectural facts about Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was made earthquake-resistant.

Peru is a seismically unstable country, we are situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, and earthquakes had flattened the cities even long before the Inca nation. Machu Picchu is also built between 2 geological fault lines. However, the Inca engineers knew that, and they built all their cities earthquake-resistant. The stones are cut so tightly that you can’t fit a needle between these spaces.

Machu Picchu

The best part of Machu Picchu is underground.

Modern engineers in Machu Picchu had estimated that 60 percent of Machu Picchu is underground constructions, and we can only see the remaining 40 percent. This doesn’t mean tunnels. The underground constructions are the drainage system and the building’s foundations on such a steep mountain top.

Machu Picchu water system is very advance.

Before building the city, Inca engineers had to plan how to bring enough water. Machu Picchu is located in the Could Forest, a warm and humid place; the reason why 60 percent of Machu Picchu is underneath is that the Incas were fighting against the humidity, against the rain, and they built the vast drainage system to exit the water from the city and avoid landslides. However, they needed to bring water to the citadel and consumption; this needed to be just enough for all living in Machu Picchu.

They decided to build a 749m long canal with 3% of inclination. There are 16 fountains to distribute the water for each neighborhood; the first one at the top was reserved for the king. This inclination allowed the water to run smoothly through the city even in the rainy season without causing any trouble.

Machu Picchu has 2 Mountains to climb.

Almost all visitors want to climb Huayna Picchu Mountain, but few people know about the other Mountain called Machu Picchu Mountain or Montaña. Huayna Picchu will sell out very fast, but you can still climb Machu Picchu Mountain that offers even greater views. Machu Picchu Mountain is the highest mountain with 3082 meters (10111 ft.). It’s important to know that Machu Picchu citadel is different from Machu Picchu Mountain.

Machu Picchu was an astronomical observatory.

Machu Picchu is considered a holy city; there are temples and sacred places all over the town.

Recent studies have shown that most of Machu Picchu’s buildings are oriented with the most important mountains around. One of the best examples is the Intihuatana Stone; the corners of this structure point to Salkantay Mountain, Pumasillo, Yanantin, and the Sungate.

Machu Picchu is divide in 2 sectors.

Machu Picchu was very well organized. The town was divided into 2 main sectors divided by a huge wall.

The agricultural sector is the first part of the terraces where Inca is used for farming maize, beans, and fruits. The terraces have an advanced drainage system.

The urban sector is divided by a tall wall; inside, there are temples, palaces, houses, and plazas. There are around 200 buildings that housed around 800 to 1000 people in total.

Machu Picchu was not destroyed by the Spaniards.

The conquistadors destroyed most Inca sites like Sacsayhuaman, Ollantaytambo, Pisaq. However, Machu Picchu was never found thanks to its hidden location, making it one of the Incas’ best-preserved archaeological treasures.

Machu Picchu has Secret Temple.

This is the Temple of the moon; unfortunately, this place is optional and allowed only to visit the early Huayna Picchu Mountain shift.

Machu Picchu also has a Local Museum located down by the bridge that crosses the Urubamba River. You will see the artifacts found in Machu Picchu and many of the first pictures taken in 1911.

Best 8 Fun facts about Machu Picchu

Only Llamas live in Machu Picchu Today.

Machu Picchu is a protected area and a World Heritage Site since 1983. No one can live inside the citadel. However, during your visit, you will see several llamas, they are not native to the area, but they were bought to Machu Picchu to enhance the site’s beauty and trim the grass.

baby Llama at Machu Picchu

You can walk up to the ruins.

Once you’re in Aguas Calientes, you can either take the 24$ bus to Machu Picchu or follow Hiram Bingham’s 1911 route for 1.5 hours.

The hike entrance is free and offers extraordinary views of the Machu Picchu, the Urubamba river, and the surrounding mountains. However, if you are finishing a trek like Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek, or any other trekking tour, we do not suggest the hiking trail.

Machu Picchu was not finished.

The question that everybody asks is if Machu Picchu was finished. Many Inca sites in Cusco were not finished like Ollantaytambo invaded by the Spaniards, most of the rocks that the Incas were transporting to built the city were left in the trail; now, these boulders are called “Tired Stones.” The rocks were transported from far away quarries.

Machu Picchu, on the other hand, the quarry was right there, the city was completed. However, like any other modern city, it was still growing, so we see unfinished construction in Machu Picchu.

Only women lived in Machu Picchu?

Among the findings in Machu Picchu, there were around 160 skeletons, most of them were short. From this, Dr. George Eaton, the Osteologist, concluded that most of Machu Picchu’s Inhabitants were women. Bingham concluded that the site was the “temple of the Virgins of the Sun. “

Later research will prove that the amount of female and male skeletons was almost equal, and the reason why the skeleton is short because that was the average height of the Incas by that time.

Machu Picchu has only 2 season.

Machu Picchu has only 2 seasons; the wet and dry seasons.

The wet season from November to March

The Dry season from April to October

Machu Picchu means Old Mountain.

Machu Picchu is a compound Quechua word; “Machu” means old or great, and Picchu means mountain.

Machu Picchu is not the real name.

On July 23, 1911, the expedition led by Hiram Bingham reached the small village of Mandor, near Aguas Calientes. The local farmer Melchor Arteaga told the explorers that there were many ruins in the nearby mountains. They asked the name of the site, and he said Machu Picchu.

Unfortunately, there is no record of a town with this name. Over the years, many names have been proposed like Llaqtapta, Karmenqa, etc. However, a few years ago, the historian had found writings from the first conquistador where appeared a list of the Inca Kings and the cities that each of them built. One line says Pachacuti built the Picchu, This could be the real name of Machu Picchu, and the proved that Pachacuti built this incredible city.

There are 2 ways to arrive at Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu can be reached by taking a hiking tour. There are many trekking tours through the Inca Trail, Salkantay tours, Lares tours, and others.

Machu Picchu is also accessible by train; you can board the trains from Cusco and Ollantaytambo: 2 train companies PeruRail and IncaRail.

_ Most Interesting facts about Machu Picchu – Written by Juan Coronel – Native Tour Guide and Travel expert

Inca Bridge - Machu Picchu


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