The Secrets of Machu Picchu
Posted on 03/26/2017
Machu Picchu is many things.
It’s an ancient Incan city and a stunning site to behold. It’s an archeological wonder that is counted as an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it makes numerous Top 10 lists, whether they are of the bucket variety or otherwise.
But there’s a lot more to this city than meets the eye, and more than 600 years after its construction it still has a few secrets left to reveal.
While just telling your friends that you’re headed off to explore this new Wonder of the World with the assistance of Flair Travel Planners will make them green with envy, toss a few of these little-known facts into the mix and you are certain to cement your place as Global Traveler Extraordinaire.
It wasn’t so much lost, as misplaced. When an intrepid Yale professor/explorer by the name of Hiram Bingham III first encountered Machu Picchu in 1911, he thought he had uncovered Vilcabamba, the Lost City of the Incas, a fact he maintained until his death in 1956. However, it wasn’t until 1964 that explorer Gene Savoy uncovered what Bingham first set out to do when he discovered the real lost city, Espiritu Pampa, about 50 miles to the west of Machu Picchu. More interesting is the fact that while it may have been lost the outside world, locals were quite familiar with Machu Picchu–Bingham found three families of farmers living there when he arrived. What everyone can agree on is that to keep the invading Spanish from discovering the city, Incans burned the forest surrounding Machu Picchu so the resulting re-growth would mask any trails leading to the city.
Shake, rattle but don’t roll. Despite the fact that it sits atop of two fault lines, Machu Picchu has remained impervious to earthquakes, thanks to an ancient feat of engineering known as “ashlar masonry.” By cutting rocks so that they fit together perfectly, the builders were able to avoid using masonry, and hence when the tremors do strike, the stones are said to “dance” in place until the earthquake stops and they settle back into their original place.
But was it all-inclusive? A group of archeologists believe that Machu Picchu was originally built as a get-away for the royal family so they could escape the busy city of Cuzco.
It’s the tip of the iceberg. While the city of Machu Picchu today offers more than enough for a day or two of exploration, it’s said that up to 60 percent of the city’s wonders are underground and part of a vast system of foundational walls and drainage that lies beneath the terraced hills.
These boots were made for walking. While Machu Picchu is the best known among tourists, there are actually two other peaks to climb. For those lucky enough to score a place on the approved list, a 60-minute climb up a ladder to the top of Huayna Picchu means the chance to visit the Temple of the Moon. On the opposite end of Machu Picchu sits Machu Picchu Mountain, a 1,640-foot peak that offers striking views of the Urubamba River and the entire city of ruins.