Machu Picchu is not only one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, it is also one of the most mysterious. This beautiful citadel was built around 1450. After its discovery in 1911, many questions have been raised about its construction. Many unknowns have not yet been resolved. Know a list with the 10 secrets of Machupicchu that have already been discovered.
- Machu Picchu is the lost city of the Incas?
- Who discovered Machu Picchu?
- Does Machu Picchu have a secret temple?
- Are there still things that can be found?
- Are there buildings that cannot be seen?
- Is the construction of Machu Picchu a mystery?
- Is there a secret door?
- Is there a temple dedicated to the condor?
- Can you see the face of a sleeping man and woman in Machu Picchu?
- Was Machu Picchu the destination of a pilgrimage?
Enigmatic Machu Picchu
1. Is Machu Picchu the famous ‘Lost City of the Incas’?
Not really. The name of the “Lost City of the Incas” was given by Hiram Bingham to Machu Picchu, as he believed that he had found the lost city of Vilcabamba, the last refuge of the Incas after the Spanish invasion. Today, however, Machupicchu is mistakenly known as the “Lost City of the Incas”.
After the discovery, the North American archaeologist with the help of Yale University, extracted and transported 30,000 Inca artifacts to the United States. Most have already been returned and are located in the Machu Picchu Site Museum and the Casa Concha Museum in Cusco.
Vilcabamba was the true ‘lost city of the Incas’ that Hiram Bingham was looking for.
2. Who discovered Machu Picchu?
Although the story puts the American explorer Hiram Bingham as the discoverer of the Inca city of Machu Picchu in 1911, it was actually a boy who led Bingham to the valley with the Inca ruins. It was even the Cusco landowner Agustín Lizárraga who left his name written on one of its walls 10 years before Bingham.
In addition, some families already lived and cultivated in the vicinity of the place. Although Hiram Bingham was not really the discoverer, he was the one who made Machu Picchu known to the entire world. For this reason he is known as the ‘scientific discoverer of Machupicchu’. The discovery of the Inca city was published in National Geographic magazine and, later, in the entire world.
3. Does Machu Picchu have a secret temple?
One of the most amazing structures in the Machu Picchu sanctuary is the Temple of the Moon, also known as the ‘Great Cavern’. This building is far from all other buildings. Due to its hidden location in the foothills of the Huayna Picchu mountain, almost no visitors arrive there. It is built inside a natural cave and shows one of the best stone carvings in the entire place.
To visit the Temple of the Moon you must get availability of the ticket Machu Picchu + Huayna Picchu and follow a 3-hour hiking route. Then you will be one of the lucky few to enter this incredible mountain. This adventure offers a unique experience within the Machu Picchu National Park. Crossing the stairs of death to the top of the Huaynapicchu, will allow you to take incredible aerial photographs of the Inca city.
The Temple of the Moon (or Grand Cavern).
4. Are there still things that can be found?
When you are inside the Inca city, you will notice that sometimes the side roads branch off into the thick foliage. Where are you going? Who knows. Because the cloud forest grows faster around Machu Picchu, there may be unknown trails and ruins yet to be discovered.
Places such as the Royal Tomb of Machu Picchu need to be explored in more depth, also several recently recovered sets of terraces were made available to visitors in 2015. Excavation work in the Inca city is still incomplete. Of course, do not try to look for unconditioned roads, as it can slip and fall to the cliffs that surround the place.
5. Are there buildings that cannot be seen?
Archeologists have been able to demonstrate that most of the city is built underground. About 60 percent of the city is underground, where a labyrinth of walls and channels serve as drainage to what was the most important city in the Inca empire. Of course, no investigation is possible there, as some part of the citadel would inevitably be damaged.
Most of Machu Picchu is made of platforms, which served as food for the Inca population that lived there (approximately between 100 and 400 people lived there). Not only Machupicchu but other famous Inca citadels such as Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Choquequirao developed a platform system near the main cities to make them self-sustainable.
The Choquequirao archaeological site is considered ‘the sacred sister of Machupicchu’.
6. Is the construction of Machu Picchu a mystery?
There are innumerable theories about the “lost city of the Incas”, but none manages to reveal one of the greatest enigmas of this 15th century city, “its construction”. Why did the Incas build a city like this, in a place as inaccessible as this? But one that will keep you biting your nails is how did the Incas do to shape the stones in such amazing detail ?; the assembly between the stones is so amazing, that you will not be able to introduce your credit card between them.
After being in the Inca city you will realize that such a detailed stone work is impossible to achieve with the rustic tools that the Incas had and that you will have the opportunity to see in the Site Museum; What’s more, even now it is impossible to emulate the incredible stone carving, even with the most modern and powerful tools. Just as Machupicchu, the constructions of other Inca citadels and fortresses such as Sacsayhuaman are still a mystery.
The ‘Stone of the 12 Angles’ in Cusco.
7. Is there a secret door?
When in 2011 Thierry Jamin, a French archaeologist and explorer, found a secret door at Machu Picchu, the eyes of the world fell on the Inca city. Unfortunately, the Government of Peru denied permission to complete the excavation; it is probable that they feared for the damage that the excavations could cause to the place. Thierry said that there is a tomb (probably that of a king), surrounded by children and a golden staircase that would lead to other secret places.
Despite various attempts to carry out investigative work at the ‘Secret Door of Machupicchu’, Thierry Jamin failed to obtain permission. Currently access to this door is prohibited. If you are lucky enough to visit the Inca citadel, you should go to the Tres Portadas area in the heart of the town.
8. Is there a temple dedicated to the condor?
Condors are huge birds, adults grow to more than 1.40 meters in height, with a wingspan of 3.30 meters. Upon reaching the Temple of the Condor, you will notice the head of a condor sculpted on the ground; But what happened to the body? If you go back a few steps, the entire building will reveal its gigantic wings represented by two giant carved rocks in the shape of wings.
As in all Machu Picchu, you will have to pay attention to details; the left wing does not touch the ground, symbolizing the bird in flight. The condor was one of the three sacred animals of the Incas along with the cougar and the snake. The condor represented the upper or heavenly world (Hanan pacha), the puma to the earthly or living world (Kay pacha) and the serpent the world below or of the dead (Uku pacha).
The condor temple is made up of a three-dimensional structure.
9. Can you see the face of a sleeping man and woman in Machu Picchu?
Unlike many of the symbols found in Machu Picchu, the apparently male human face can be seen in the mountains of Machu Picchu (the famous face of Machupicchu). The all-natural formation appears to show a person’s nose, mouth, and forehead looking up at the sky. But the Incas believed in duality; so don’t be surprised there is also a sleeping woman carved out of rock.
The carving resembles the profile of a sleeping woman’s face. Samples taken from the rock surface have revealed traces of gold engraved on it; some archaeologists believe that this stone may have been entirely covered in gold. The best date to see the ‘face of Machupicchu’ is in May, June or July. The best time is from 3 or 4 in the afternoon when the light illuminates the profile more clearly.
The famous face of Machupicchu is achieved by taking a photo of the Huayna Picchu mountain.
10. Was Machu Picchu the destination of a pilgrimage?
Italian archaeologist Giulio Magli points to a new theory that suggests that the trip to Machu Picchu from Cusco could have had a spiritual purpose. The pilgrimage would echo the celestial journey that according to legend, the first Inca and his wife took to Cusco. According to the famous legend of ‘Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo’, these would have left the island of the sun in Lake Titicaca. According to Magli, The Inca Trail would have been specially prepared to take pilgrims to Machu Picchu.
The last stage of the pilgrimage would have ended with the climbing of the pyramid to reach the Intihuatana, the highest point and one of the most sacred places in Machu Picchu. This has not changed much, since many people continue to come to Machu Picchu doing spiritual tourism. Precisely the Intihuatana is famous for radiating a special solar energy if tourists put their hands close (it is currently prohibited to touch this construction).
The Intihuatana (sundial) is one of the most sacred constructions in Machupicchu.
Advice from people who have been there
“Top in the world, a life experience“
“I visited one of the wonders of the world. It is truly impressive, I have fulfilled a dream of life. There is no other place like Machu Picchu. The Peruvian Andes were impressive, the people wonderful and the food excellent. It is promoted as the number 1 of the cube lists and nobody after seeing it will be able to say the opposite, I know because I have been there.“
By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, April 20, 2020