The Ruins of Machu Picchu
By | June 29, 2019
Named in 2007 as one of the new seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is located in the mountains northwest of Cusco, Peru. While many have made the trek to visit the ruins since its discovery more than a century ago, the original purpose of the abandoned Incan citadel remains a mystery to this day.
Machu Picchu was discovered on July 24, 1911, by a Yale University lecturer and explorer named Hiram Bingham who had traveled to South America to investigate rumors of ancient Inca ruins in Peru. He was hoping to find Vilcabamba, also known as the Lost City of the Inca, which was the last stronghold to be defeated by the Spanish conquistadors. He was directed to the ruins at the top of a nearby mountain by a local farmer, who referred to the mountain as Machu Picchu, which means “old peak.”
Guided to the top of the mountain by an eleven-year-old boy, Bingham discovered a towering citadel of stone five miles wide with more than 3,000 steps connecting its many levels. Made up of palaces and temples as well as houses, it was likely used for religious ceremonies of some sort. One section, which appears separated from the rest by walls and ditches, is thought to have been used for ceremonial isolation. While Bingham is credited with discovering the ruins, there is evidence that the site was visited by missionaries and other explorers during the 19th and early 20th centuries.