Deep in the mountains of the Urubamba Valley of Peru laid the most iconic symbols of the Inca civilization. This 15th century Inca site is located in the Cusco region of Peru. Built at the height of the Inca Empire it is believed to have been the estate of emperor Pachacuti. This wonder was relatively unknown till 1911 when it was brought to international attention by American Historian Hiram Bingham and has now been declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Machu Picchu is a Goldmine of Culture and History!!!!
Many scholars believe Machu Picchu to be a sacred site, as it is built on and around mountains that hold high religious importance to the Incan culture and the culture that occupied these lands before them. The peak point in Machu Picchu has artificial platforms that are believed to be there for Incan ritual offerings as they are found in other Incan religious sites as well. It was even pointed out that the position of Machu Picchu is relative to the sacred landscape features (like the mountains are purported to be in alignment with key astronomical events to the Incans).
There have been several theories debating the true purpose of Machu Picchu. Some say that it was meant to be the Inca Ilaqta, a settlement built to control the economy of the conquered regions. Another theory maintains that it may have been built as a prison for a select few who had committed heinous crimes against the Inca society. A completely alternative theory suggests that it might be constructed as an agricultural testing station where different types of crops could be tested in many different micro-environments afforded by the location and terraces to determine where the crops could be grown.
The credit of introducing Machu Picchu to the world goes to an American historian names Hiram Bingham. Relatively unknown to the outside world before the discovery, Machu Picchu has now become a very popular tourist site that attracts many people to Peru, especially after it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Even the significant media attention has contributed to the rise in the number of tourists.
It has been featured in many movies like “The Secret of The Incas”, “Beastly”, “Monte Carlo” and “The Motorcycle Diaries”. Most of the out-lying buildings have been reconstructed to give tourists a better idea of the original structures and the reconstruction work has been rigorously going on till date.
However, the popularity has had its own cost. The growing number of tourists has added to the pressure suffered by the old site. Many ideas aimed at increasing the ease of access to the tourists had to be scrapped among the growing protests. Even a no-fly zone has been declared over it. UNESCO has considered putting Machu Picchu in its List of World Heritages in Danger.
This beautiful ancient city is a true icon of the Incan civilization. Its wonder and grandeur cannot be described in words, only experienced.