MACHU Picchu is one of the most famous landmarks in the world, and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
But just where did Machu Picchu come from, and how was it built?
Who built Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu was built by the people of the Inca empire as either a royal estate or sacred religious site, in the mid 15th century.
The first Inca Emperor Pachacuteq ordered the building of Machu Picchu, which was home to up to 1,000 of his descendants, and included a large mausoleum for him.
The citadel was abandoned when Inca civilisation was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century.
It was first revealed to the world in 1911, when American archaeologist Hiram Bingham happened upon it.
No conflict seems to have occurred at Machu Picchu – instead, it is believed its population was wiped out by a smallpox epidemic introduced by the conquistadores.
How did they build Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is considered a masterpiece of architecture and engineering, with ramps, steps, terraces and walls built into the mountain side to blend into the landscape.
There are no fewer than 3,000 stone steps between its many levels, and the whole city was built without metal tools or the wheel.
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They only made one entrance to the city so it would be easy to protect.
During the building of Machu Picchu, it is thought the Inca used the tectonic plate vulnerability of the region to crack granite and provide channels for water for their sophisticated irrigation system.
The Inca had a technique of cutting stone so they fit together without needing mortar.
The stones are so tightly-wedged that you can’t even push a credit card between them, and this has kept the city strong through over five centuries of seismic activity.
During an earthquake the stones of Machu Picchu are said to dance and then fall back into place, but non-Inca cities like Cusco and Lima have been flattened.
Machu Picchu has a residential area, farming zone, sacred area, and royal district.
Among the now-ruins are the famous Temple of the Sun, and the Intihuatana – a sun clock or calendar made as a granite sculpture.
Where is Machu Picchu?
The five-mile site of Machu Picchu is on a mountain top near the Urubamba valley in Peru, South America.
The Unesco site on the Eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes, in a tropical forest 8,000 feet (2,430 metres) above sea level, and about 66 miles northwest of Cuzco.
The name Machu Picchu means "old peak" in Quechua.
Artefacts taken by Bingham to Yale University were only returned to Peru when Barack Obama intervened after nearly 100 years of argument.
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