5 Things You Didn't Know About Machu Picchu

On July 24, 1911, archeologist Hiram Bingham became the first to officially "discover" Machu Picchu,  an ancient Inca settlement in the Andes Mountains in Peru.  Here are 5 fascinating facts you probably didn't know about this historic landmark..

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It Was Discovered by Accident Hiram Bingham stumbled upon Machu Picchu in 1911 but it was by complete accident. While he was indeed looking for a supposed lost Incan city, the actual place he was seeking out was Vitcos, the last Incan refuge. Instead, he realized he had actually discovered the untouched city of Machu Picchu. Over the years, Bingham transported thousands of valuable artifacts to a museum at Yale University to be preserved for future generations.

Temples Are Hidden Inside Machu Picchu is hidden away almost 8,000 feet up a mountain ridge, but it is well worth the visit. In 2014, a secret chamber was found in the Temple of the Sun by French explorer Thierry Jamin; he believes it may be the burial chamber of an Incan ruler. However, so far the Peruvian government has denied scientists the ability to explore further.

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The Reason Machu Picchu Was Built Is Unknown Since its rediscovery there have been a range of theories as to the purpose of Machu Picchu.  One theory is that it was built as a monument to the Sun God for the Incan people to come worship. There are several other interpretations as to why Machu Picchu was built and its purpose. These include it being a trade hub, a prison, a women’s retreat, or a testing station for new crops. Based off all available evidence, most believe it was a palace for the then ruler of the Inca Empire, Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui.

The Name Machu Picchu Translates as “Old Peak” One of the most pervasive myths about Machu Picchu is that it refers to an Incan ruin. Machu Picchu is the name of the mountain itself, and literally translates from the native Quechua language as “Old Peak.” Over time, the archaeological site has become synonymous with the mountaintop on which it was found.

The Stones Used To Create Machu Picchu Were Delivered By Hand Approximately 5,000 Incans worked to buildMachu Picchu.  Incredibly, the stones of Machu Picchu were carried to the site by hand (the Incas never discovered the wheel). The quality of the stone masonry is legendary. The Incas cut each stone by hand and wedged them together so closely that the blade of a knife could not be inserted between them.