Machu Picchu

15th-century Inca citadel in the Peruvian Andes and UNESCO World Heritage Site

Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site in Peru, in South America.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu in June 2009
Map showing location of Machu Picchu in Peru
Map showing location of Machu Picchu in Peru
Shown within Peru
Location Peru
Cusco Region
Coordinates13°09′48″S 72°32′44″W / 13.16333°S 72.54556°W / -13.16333; -72.54556
Height2,430 metres (7,970 ft)
Foundedc. 1450
CulturesInca civilization
Site notes
ArchaeologistsHiram Bingham
Official nameHistoric Sanctuary of Machu Picchu
Criteriai, iii, vii, ix
Designated1983 (7th session)
Reference no.274
State Party Peru
RegionLatin America and the Caribbean

The Incas built the city on a mountain ridge, 2430m above sea level. They lived there between 1200 and 1450 AD. Other people lived there before about 650 AD.

The Incas built houses, fields and temples by cutting the rock on the mountain so it was flat. They built an observatory to look at the stars.

When the Spanish invaded Peru, the Incas left Machu Picchu. Nobody knows for sure why they did that, but some think it was because of diseases from Europe (such as smallpox). The city was left unfinished, most likely due to the Spanish invasion and/or a civil war between the ruling rival Inca brothers named Huascar and Atahualpa. The Spanish never found Machu Picchu or the lost city during their occupation.

Machu Picchu is very difficult to get to because it is so high in the mountains. It has only one way in and a stone wall to protect it. Most people on Earth did not know it was there until a Yale graduate named Hiram Bingham rediscovered it in 1911. He heard rumors of a hidden city which was already known to the native Peruvians, who guided him there. He led a restoration project that was partly funded by the National Geographic Society. Bingham made a deal with the government to take artifacts to the Peabody Museum for study. Peru is still trying to have those artifacts returned to them.

Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.

Today, there is a new road so that tourists can visit. People can also walk along the Inca Trail, or take a train from Cusco.

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