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Machu Picchu Peru

Updated on March 10, 2008

Beautiful Ancient Machu Picchu

Mysterious Machu Picchu

Watch a Machu Picchu Sunrise

What Is Machu Picchu?

The Incas of Machu Picchu are an enigma. They were thought to have inhabited a beautiful city in the Andes mountains for about 100 years. Then they simply disappeared. Their city wasn't rediscovered until an explorer named Hiram Bingham accidentally came along in 1905. But the mysterious civilization of Machu Picchu was already long gone.

Machu Picchu, also called the "Lost City of the Incas", is the beautiful ancient city located in Peru high atop a mountain. In fact, Machu Picchu is isolated in the Urubamba jungle at almost 8,000 feet altitude. Many visitors to Machu Picchu describe a feeling of serenity and mystery while visitng. Indeed, if you see photos of Machu Picchu, the beauty and peacefulness of the area are evident.

Very little is known about Machu Picchu, just theory. And there are many conflicting theories as well. The only clues the inhabitants of Machu Picchu left behind is the beautiful city itself. It is considered to be an engineering marvel, even by today's standards.

Machu Picchu is commonly believed to have been erected around the 13th or 14th century. And yet it still stands. The ancient city is huge. It covers 20 hectares and has about 140 stone buildings. Except for the parts of the buildings that were built from biodegradable materials such as wood, the structures are in excellent preserved shape. The area is also susceptible to frequent earthquakes. Imagine what the city you live in will look like in 500-600 years.

View the Machu Picchu Peru Pics

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Closeup of Ancient Machu Picchu Stone Masonry

Machu Picchu Master Builders

One of the marvels of Machu Picchu is the way in which the massive stone structures were constructed. The stones were fitted together in a method called "dry stone" technique. Dry stone technique involves fitting stones together with no mortar or binding material whatsoever. The stones are cut precisely enough to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. This method of construction is found in other places in the world. Ancient Egyptians used it to build the pyramids. Gaelic black houses also used this method of construction.

It is still a mystery how the Incas accomplished this. How did the Incas split the rocks? The stone material used was granite. Granite is one of the hardest stones in existence. Even with today's modern technology, it can take hours to cut through granite and requires specialized tools. Not only are the stones interlocking at Machu Picchu, but they are also polished and very smooth.

Machu Picchu builders are considered to be one of the best stonemasters the world has ever known. Not only do the stones at Machu Picchu interlock and are polished smooth, but they are constructed so precisely that there are still places today where a razor blade can not enter between the polished stones.

Machu Picchu builders used the dry stone building technique not only for the stone structures, but also for making agricultural terraces. The terraces were built on steep slopes. It became valuable farm land area that would otherwise have been useless.

Machu Picchu Peru Fountain and Aqueduct

Ancient Machu Picchu Engineering Genius

Another engineering marvel of Machu Picchu is the irrigation system. Miraculously, this system still works today. The water runs through stones that have been carved out to form aqueducts. It is made up of huge rocks instead of small stones fitted together. It is believed this was to reduce loss of water as it made its way to Machu Picchu. There are even water fountains scattered throughout the city. Water was available for drinking, irrigation for the terraces, and for baths.

What is known about the ancient city's construction is that Machu Picchu was built with the use of no wheel technology. The Incas were able to calculate the precise cuts to make the stones fit together, but with no writing. Even with today's technology, building a city of this magnitude with an irrigation system in the heart of a jungle, completely isolated, on a mountaintop, in an earthquake zone, with massive granite stones would be an engineering feat indeed. And no one knows if it would still survive for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Go on a Virtual Tour of Ancient Machu Picchu Peru

If you've always wanted to visit ancient Machu Picchu, this is an excellent video of a virtual tour of Machu Picchu.

Learn interesting facts about the history of Machu Picchu and experience the beauty and mystery of this ancient city.

Ancient Machu Picchu Peru Comments

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    • profile image

      Tanveer 

      6 years ago

      I really want to visit it. Plus I'm doing a project about it. :)

    • MarieAlice profile image

      MarieAlice 

      7 years ago from Peru

      Really nice hub. I´m peruvian and Í have been there a few times... you always feel like you are next to heaven!!! Lovely pictures too..

    • capalynn profile image

      capalynn 

      8 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Thanks for sharing. I just came back from Peru and spent 4-days in Cusco where I visited not only MP, but several other Inca sites. This was by far one of the most amazing things I have seen in all my travels so far in my life!

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      8 years ago from France

      I loved Macchu Picchu and Saccsayhuaman, you feel so at peace there... It is an amazing place I would like to take my little ones there and tell them all about the traditions and Inca legends while admiring such an amazing work of architecture.

    • profile image

      matt 

      8 years ago

      Simple method used still today in making granite surface plates. sand and rope! you can constantly run sand on the surface while running the rope through the sand, and pow! it cuts through it.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Absolutely amazing construction considering the time and tools they would have had back then. We could learn something from them if they were alive to teach us!

    • Angela Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Harris 

      10 years ago from Around the USA

      RFox and Robie, we all ought to make a pact to visit Machu Picchu sometime soon. Thanks for the compliments.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 

      10 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Wow, Angela, your contest hubs are awesome. I'm participating only as a reader and am having sooo much fun reading yours--so original, well written with a great range of fascinating information on an amazing variety of subjects. This one on Machu Pichu is great--fabulous videos too. Makes me want to pack my knapsack and go:-)

    • RFox profile image

      RFox 

      10 years ago

      This is the next place I want to visit so badly! Great hub!

    • Angela Harris profile imageAUTHOR

      Angela Harris 

      10 years ago from Around the USA

      Thanks so much, Whitney. I couldn't bear the thought of writing about technology, but I love ancient history. So ancient technologies came to mind. And Machu Picchu is a favorite of mine.

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      Wow great take on technologies! I didn't think about historic technologies in the sense of architecture! A great hub could be produced about Egyptian pyramid and the Egyptian architecture of the ancient civilizations. Wow. Definitely a great take on the topic.

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