Summary of the history of Machu Picchu

Archaeologists estimate that it was built during the fifteenth century AD by the Incas, but its function remains a mystery. It is also known that it was populated by a large number of inhabitants, but only by nobles, priests and the “aqllas” (virgins of the sun). There was also a population of peasants who worked the fields but did not live inside the citadel.

The city is divided into 3 areas: 2 populated areas and the agricultural sector, which is a vast system of terraces and irrigation canals. The urban sector was divided into two neighborhoods, in one of them are the most important temples such as the Sun, as well as the royal bedroom.

MachuPicchu In the other neighborhood are located the houses of the nobles and the convent of the “virgins of the sun”. Between both neighborhoods there is an enormous esplanade as a square. The surroundings are impressive, the citadel is built on the top of a hill surrounded by the Urubamba River and a mountain range, resembling the center of a ring of mountains.

Perhaps the greatest attraction of Machu Picchu is the level of technological development achieved by its builders in terms of architecture and stone work. The joints of the stones in some of the environments are so narrow that not even a pin could be inserted. The most significant stone is the “Intihuatana” or solar calendar, which allowed the Incas to know precisely the seasons and climate throughout the year. However, many find in Machu Picchu more than history and ancient technologies, but also an energy and peace that surrounds everyone who arrives and visits such a mysterious place.

History of MachuPicchu.

The Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu mountains are part of the orographic formation known as Batolito in Vilcabamba that is located on the left bank of the Urubamba Canyon that was known as the Quebrada de Picchu.

The story goes that in the Quebrada de Picchu inhabited mountain populations from the regions of Vilcabamba and the Sacred Valley.

In the Middle Horizon period there is a population explosion by groups not historically documented but possibly linked to the TAMPU ethnic group of Urubamba and it is believed that these peoples could be part of the Federation that were rivals of the first Incas of Cusco.

Machu Picchu during the Inca period (1438-1534)

In 1440 when Picchu was conquered by Pachacuteq the first Inca emperor, it was he who in 1450 ordered to build an urban complex with civil and religious buildings of great luxury as a refuge of the most select of the Inca aristocracy, a luxurious and well cared mausoleum to receive the remains of the monarch Pachacutec. However, some of its best constructions and the evident ceremonial character would demonstrate that it was used as a religious sanctuary. Machu Picchu Esplanade

The fortress was located on the eastern slope of the Vilcanota mountain range, a visit to the heart of the Inca Empire and the Andean and colonial culture. With the magnificent “Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu about 80 km from Cusco, the capital of the Tahuantinsuyo. Its strategic geographical location was chosen with admirable success. Surrounded by deep cliffs and away from the sight of strangers by a tangled jungle, the citadel of Machu Picchu possessed the quality of having only one and narrow entrance, which allowed, in case of a surprise attack, to be defended by very few warriors.

It is believed that the population in Machu Picchu was between 300 and 1000 inhabitants belonging to the panaca of Pachacuteq, it was an unknown place for the lower castes and their prohibited routes for anyone who was not part of the small circle of the Inca.

Within the valleys that formed the valley region are the administrative centers of Patallacta and Quentemarca which favored Machu Picchu for its agricultural sectors and thus provided food to the population.

When Pachacuteq died all his properties happened to be administered by his panaca and began a new government of the Inca Túpac Yupanqui (1470-1493) and Huayna Capac (1493-1529).

History of Machu Picchu between the colony and the republic (XVII-XIX)

After the fall of Vilcabamba in 1572, Machu Picchu remained within the jurisdiction of several colonial haciendas that changed ownership during republican times since 1821; it became a remote place away from the new roads and economic axes of Peru.

Apparently the agricultural sector of Machu Picchu was uninhabited and therefore they were lands of interest for the settlers who made crops; but their urban sectors were not occupied by farmers but by the vegetation of a cloud forest. The Huayna Picchu

In 1865 during the journeys made by the naturalist Antonio Raymondi step at the foot of the ruins without realizing the great constructions that existed there. However, in 1867 Augusto Berns not only discovered the ruins but also founded a mining company “Compañía Anónima Explotadora de las Huacas del Inca” to exploit the treasures that were housed there.

Then between 1867 and 1870 during the government of José Balta, the company operated in the area and sold everything it found to Spanish and North American collectors. So in 1870 Harry Singer places for the first time a map with the location of Cerro Machu Picchu and calls Huayna Picchu as “Punta Huaca del Inca”.

Then a second map is made in 1874 elaborated by the German Herman Gohring where it locates and mentions to both mountains in an exact place, 5 advices for your trip to Machu Picchu. Macchu Picchu, the most known tourist enclave of Peru and one of the Wonders of the World until in 1880 Charles Wiener a French explorer confirmed the existence of archaeological remains in the place and annul the possibility of calling it “lost city”.

Rediscovery of Machu Picchu (1894-1911)

Agustín Lizárraga arrived in Machu Picchu on July 14, 1902, guiding the Cusqueños Gabino Sánchez, Enrique Palma and Justo Ochoa, who left their names inscribed in the Temple of the Three Windows. There are also other informative data where it is related that Agustín Lizárraga had visited Machu Picchu with Luis Béjar in 1894.

Machu Picchu with the IncaOn July 24, 1911, the North American Hiram Bingham arrives at Machu Picchu guided by Melchor Arteaga and a sergeant of the Civil Guard named Carrasco; during their journey they found two families who lived there: the Recharte and the Álvarez who used the terraces of the south to cultivate. And it is Pablo Recharte, one of the family’s sons, who leads Bingham into the weed-covered urban area.

Bingham was impressed to see so much wonder and asked for support from Yale University, the National Geographic Society and the Peruvian Government to begin the scientific study of the site, so with engineer Ellwood Erdis, osteologist George Eaton, Toribio Recharte and Anacleto Álvarez and other workers from the Bingham area, he carried out archaeological work in Machu Picchu between 1912 and 1915.

History of Machu Picchu since 1915:

Between 1924 and 1928 Martin Chambi and Juan Manuel Figueroa made a series of photographs in Machu Picchu which were published in different Peruvian magazines expressing great local interest in the ruins, making them a national symbol.

  • In 1981 Machu Picchu was established within the Protection Zones.
  • In 1983 Machu Picchu is part of the World Heritage List.
  • In 2007 Machu Picchu becomes part of the New 7 Wonders of the Modern World; where the Government declares every July 7th Day of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.

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