What is Machu Picchu? A quick summary about its history

sanctuary of Machu Picchu

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The Inca city of Machu Picchu has acquired an unprecedented historical relevance. In fact, it is one of the most visited places in all of Latin America. But have you ever wondered what these ruins really are?

So if you’re planning a trip to Peru, you should expect it to be a must-see during your adventure.

Here’s a quick rundown of the history of Machu Picchu, so you’ll be well-informed on your next Machu Picchu tour.

Origins of Machu Picchu

It is believed that Machu Picchu, called Vilcabamba at the time, was built around 1450 during the Inca period and was an important urban and religious centre. It is known to have been inhabited by a population of between 300 and 1000 people, most of whom were engaged in agriculture.

The city was erected, inhabited, and abandoned in less than 100 years, and was covered by dense vegetation, leaving the city hidden for thousands of years. And although its function remains an enigma today, it is believed to have been a sacred centre for the initiation of Inca ritual experts.

Machu Pichu ruins

The discovery of the ruins

It was not until 1911 that the explorer Hiram Bingham located the ruins of Machu Picchu when he did a climbing to Huayna Picchu. Hence one of the trains to Machu Picchu is named in his honour.

It was then that the site began to be studied in-depth. Archaeological excavations were carried out and the tombs of the citadel were explored, where hundreds of carvings, clothing, ceramics… were found.

However, it was not until the middle of the 20th century that roads and railways were built and Machu Picchu was opened to visitors from all over the world.

Train arriving to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu today

Since 1981 Machu Picchu has been considered a ‘Historic Sanctuary of Peru’, a designation that protects both the archaeological site and the flora and fauna that inhabit it. Since 1983 it is ‘Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ and more recently, since 2007 it is one of the new ‘7 Wonders of the Modern World’.

No wonder it is the most visited place in all of Peru, with almost 1.5 million visitors a year. In fact, there are thousands of ways to visit it, by train, by taking an excursion such as the famous Inca Trail… All equally incredible!

Turists visiting Machu Picchu

Have you already decided whether you want to visit Machu Picchu at sunrise or do you prefer to take it easy and see Machu Picchu for a whole day?

Now that you know what it is and know a little more about the history of Machu Picchu… you certainly don’t want to miss it!


Celia loves animals and traveling, and if she can combine both and escape anywhere with her dog, her happiness is assured.

She loves nature in general, and the mountains in particular, so it is normal to find her on her days off with her trekking poles on her back. In Howlanders blog he gives us tips and recommendations that he has learned in each of his trips.

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