Machu Pichu lies more than 7000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains in Peru. Once the seat of power of the great Incan empire, it was build around 1450AD. It was officially announced as an ‘UNESCO World Heritage Site’ in 1983; in 2007, it was listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Here are 10 intriguing facts on the Machu Picchu in Peru:
1. “Machu Pichu”, in the Quechua Indian language means “Old Mountain” or “Old Peak”.
2. There are over 150 buildings that range from temples to houses, baths and sanctuaries in the Machu Pichu.
3. The compound houses over 100 separate flights of stairs. These individual staircases were mostly carved out of a single slab of stone.
4. Though the massive stones that were used to build the city weigh in excess of 50 pounds, it is widely believed that hundreds of men, and not wheels, transported these heavy boulders all the way up the steep mountain side.
5. The purpose behind building Machu Picchu is unknown, though the widely circulated theory is that it must have been a secret ceremonial centre or royal estate among them.
6. Historically, the Incas were great builders, and were considered the best masons in the world. The most striking feature of their building structures is the use of a technique called “Ashlar” in which stones cut are fit together without mortar; not even the sharpest knife blade can cut between the stones.
7. Machu Picchu caught public attention only in 1911 when Yale Professor Hiram Bingham re-explored the site and recorded his findings in his book, “ The Lost City of the Incas”.
8. There has been an ongoing disagreement between Yale University and Peru Government in a bid to get possession of rare artefacts collected by Bingham during the excavation of the site. Yale lays claim to the items, whilst Peru insists they were offered only on loan.
9. Once an astronomical observatory, Machu Picchu houses its sacred Intihuatana stone that accurately represents the two equinoxes two times a year, when the sun’s rays is perpendicular and in a straight line with the stone casting no shadow.
10. Unfortunately, like most civilizations destroyed by colonial powers, the Incas were given a death blow by the Spanish conquest. Machu Picchu was almost shunned from the modern world, making it one of the most well-preserved ancient cities and an archaeological wonder!