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Inca mystery
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mistery of machu picchu inca trail

Machu Picchu has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. There is a vast literature published about this place. Everything that can be said about the wonder of the world is surrounded by mysteries. Who built it? What was it built for? By whom was it inhabited? Why was it abandoned? Did the invaders know her? What was its original name? Etc. These and other questions constantly surround Machu Picchu.

His construction

  • Inca culture developed between 1200 AD and 1533 AD . Machu Picchu, one of his most outstanding architectural works, according to carbon 14 tests, was built between 1438 and 1470.
  • The Inca emperor Pachacutec ordered its construction to be his residence and that of his family.
  • However, according to various studies, it also served as an agricultural center and military fortress that demarcated the limits of the empire with the jungle region of the empire.
  • The construction of Machu Picchu was unfinished. This is demonstrated by the temples and enclosures that were not completely finished.
  • To get labor the Incas used men from recently conquered towns in the north of the empire (the so-called ‘mitimaes’).
  • The construction harmonized with the natural environment that surrounds it. According to the Spanish researcher María del Carmen Rubio (and supported by various archaeologists and researchers), her real name was ‘Patallaqta’ .

His discovery

  • The discovery of Machu Picchu occurred in 1911 . The American explorer Hiram Bingham, who through the local people knew of the existence of an ancient Inca citadel lost in vegetation, arrived and made the world aware of the importance of the ‘lost city of the Incas’.
  • The first publication occurred that same year through the National Geographic Society magazine. Since then, the fame of Machupicchu reached international levels.
  • In 1902, nine years before the arrival of Hiram Bingham to Machu Picchu, the Cusco resident Agustín Lizárraga, along with three other people, arrived in the Inca city and wrote his name in the sector of the ‘Temple of the 3 windows’.
  • Machu Picchu was known to the locals. However, upon the arrival of Hiram Bingham the world knew the real importance of the Inca city . For this reason, the American explorer is known as the ‘scientific discoverer of Machu Picchu’.
  • However, Hiram Bingham died believing that his discovery was the ‘lost city of the Incas’. That is, the last Inca refuge in Vilcabamba, from where they fought the Spanish.

Its mysterious enclosures

  • It is estimated that the Inca city of Machu Picchu has more than 150 buildings between enclosures, temples, bridges, stairs, platforms and more .
  • Although its formidable temples and stone enclosures stand out; most of Machu Picchu is underground. According to the American engineer Kenneth Wright, the Incas spent a lot of effort digging and placing underground stones. Thus they turned the rugged geography into a prone place to live.
  • Some of the most famous buildings are: the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Moon, the Temple of the 3 Windows, the Main Temple, the Temple of the Condor, the Intipunku, the Sacred Rock, etc.
  • Almost all constructions are in the urban sector. In the high surrounding mountains (Huayna Picchu and Machu Picchu mountain) there is a set of stairs that lead to their peaks. During the tour it is possible to appreciate more sets of platforms and minor buildings.
  • However, the mysterious constructions of Machu Picchu are still under investigation. In 2010, French researchers David Crespy and Thierry Jamin claimed to have discovered in Machu Picchu a secret door covered with stones where a very important royal tomb would be found . The permission to excavate the site was rejected by the Peruvian authorities who believe that this could damage the archaeological site. Until today, you do not enter this secret door and you discover what is hidden inside.


  • Pachacutec was the first and most important Inca emperor (something like Augustus of the Incas) . It was he who ordered the construction of Machu Picchu to become his resting place with his family.
  • During the construction of Machu Picchu (between 1438 and 1470), the empire of the Incas lived the most vertiginous expansion of its territory. Pachacutec was the one who led that expansion that would include part of the territories of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Chile and Argentina.
  • According to the Spanish chroniclers, the Inca Pachacutec was buried in their lands of Patallaqta, which would be the true name of Machu Picchu .
  • Investigations in Machu Picchu have not found Pachacutec’s tomb. According to French researchers David Crespy and Thierry Jamin, it would be found in the ‘secret door’ found in the Inca city in 2010.
  • Likewise, the chronicler Juan de Betanzos points out that Pachacutec was buried in the Toqocachi sector (in the current San Blas neighborhood of the city of Cusco =. However, his mummy was not found there either.
  • Finally, some researchers point out that the body of Pachacutec in the underground tombs of the current San Andrés hospital in Lima. Despite this, no one has been able to find the remains of Emperor Pachacutec.

The arrival of the Spaniards

  • The Spanish arrived in the city of Cusco in 1533. That same year Manco Inca rebelled, fleeing to his hidden kingdoms of Vilcabamba, from where he declared war on the Spanish invaders.
  • In 1537, a large part of the inhabitants of Machu Picchu joined Manco Inca’s army and left the city . Thus, the place was left with few visitors who lived off the land they worked.
  • Due to the difficult access to Machu Picchu, the Spanish did not arrive there to destroy its temples and enclosures. However, in 1570, by agreement of the Inca rebel Titu Cusi Yupanqui with the Spanish, a group of evangelizers came to the Inca city. The anthropologist Luis Guillermo Lumbreras points out that it was probably these evangelizers who set fire to part of the Temple of the Sun.
  • With the defeat of the rebellious Incas of Vilcabamba in 1572, the few people who inhabited Machu Picchu had to abandon it to join the new lifestyle of the Spanish colony. The Inca city, little by little, was covered by thick vegetation until in 1911 Hiram Bingham made the news of its existence known to the world .

The Inca Trail

  • Currently, most tourists visit Machu Picchu through a train trip from Cusco of almost 4 hours.
  • However, train travel is not the only way to get there. During the Inca times, the only way to get to Machu Picchu was through the route through the ‘qhapac ñan’ or Inca roads. The starting point was the city of Cusco, capital of the empire.
  • The Qhapac ñan were made up of more than 30 thousand kilometers of roads that ran along the coasts and mountains of South America . They were built during the Pachacutec government (1418 – 1471).
  • Currently, a section of the route from qhapac ñan to Machu Picchu has been conditioned for tourists. This 39-kilometer route is called the ‘Classic Inca Trail’, it lasts 4 days and can only be done through a tour contracted with a tourism agency.
  • The classic Inca Trail is the most adventurous way to get to Machu Picchu. The other ways are: a) the train ride from Ollantaytambo and b) the optional route through the Hydroelectric station.
  • The classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is considered one of the best hiking trails on the planet . Due to the high demand for tours, it is recommended to buy them 6 or 7 months in advance.


By Inca Trail Machu Picchu - Last updated, 30-09-2021

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