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Machu Picchu Facts

Machu Picchu original entrance

Location: Cusco Region, Urubamba Province, Machu Picchu District – where the Andes Mountains meet the Amazon Rain Forest.

Altitude: 2453m – Sacred Square

Environment: semi tropical

Climate: dry season and rainy season

Temperature: low 6°C – high up to 29°C



Most popular trekking route: Classic Inca Trail



Machu Picchu’s construction dates back to 15th century to the reigns of Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui and Tupac Inca Yupanqui at the peak of the Inca Empire – Tawantinsuyo. The city was abandoned during the Spanish Conquest; however, it has never been forgotten. Local people living and working near have always known about the citadel. They played a key role on making Machu Picchu famous to the outside world.

1865 – A prominent Italian-born Peruvian geographer and scientist Antonio Raimondi [1] plotted Machu Picchu Mountain on a map. [2]

1867 – A German wood dealer and gold-digger Augusto Berns localized the archeological site of Machu Picchu. According to a US cartographer Paolo Greer Berns plundered Machu Picchu’s artifacts for years. [3]

1874 – A German engineer Herman Göhring hired by the Peruvian government made a map that was a part of a report from the expedition around Paucartambo Valleys. Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu appear on this map, even though their positions are switched. [4]

1902, July 14th – a Peruvian farmer Augustín Lizzáraga accompanied by Gabino Sánchez and Enrique Palma were looking for terrain where they could expand their fields. Cleaning vegetation with their machetes they found a route, which they followed and came to Machu Picchu. [5]

When the US Professor Hiram Bingham explored Machu Picchu he found a charcoal sign in the Temple of the Three Windows that said ‘Lizárraga’ and ‘1902’. Bingham later interviewed Lizzáraga’s older brother about the events of 1902. [6]

1911, July 24th –  Hiram Bingham learnt about the Inca city with the help of his interpreter – a Peruvian policeman Sergeant Carrasco – from a local farmer Melchor Arteaga. The following day, 24th July, Binham and Carrasco hiked up the mountain and met Richarte and Álvarez a couple ‘farming some of the original Machu Picchu agricultural terraces that they had cleared four years earlier.’[7] Alvarez sent his ‘11-year-old son, Pablito,’ to take Bingham to the Inca Citadel. [8] Álvarez and Richarte found the majority of tombs in Machu Picchu and knew about the prescious artifacts hidden in them long before Bingham. [15]

Hiram Bingham was the first person to bring a camera to Machu Picchu. Eastman Kodak Co. donated cameras, films and other photographic materials to Hiram Bingham and members of his expedition, and also taught them to develop the films, in order to avoid damage and loss of evidence. [9] Photographs taken that day helped turn Bingam’s exploration into a sensation that is still with us today. Some of the professor’s conclusions were later corrected however. For example, Hiram Bingham was originally looking for a different place called Vilcabamba – the last refuge of Inca Manco Capac II, who fought against Spanish conquerors in the 1530s. When Bingham came to Machu Picchu he thought that he discovered Vilcabamba, the true ‘lost city of the Incas’. [10]

Did the Spanish colonizers see Machu Picchu? ‘There is no record of the Spanish having visited the remote city. The types of sacred rocks defaced by the conquistadors in other locations are untouched at Machu Picchu.’ (Wright & Valencia Zegarra 2001, 2003, p.1.) [11] As the historical documents have proved so far it was not known to any foreigners before the 19th century.

In 1995 Rómulo Lizárraga wrote that his great uncle Agustín Lizárraga had found golden, silver, and ceramic artifacts as well as tools in Machu Picchu. He sold them to an Italian merchant Cesare Lomellini. This Italian provided food and equipement for Bingham’s expeditions. [13] Agustín Lizárraga also brought others – among them Álvarez, Richarte and Melchor Arteaga – interested the agricultural terrain and in finding treassures. Arteaga sold objects he found, as it was easier than earning a living growing crops. [14]

1983, December 9th – UNESCO declared Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site.

2007, July 7th – Machu Picchu Citadel was announced as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. [12]

Today, a beautiful collection of the artifacts that Hiram Bingham excavated in 1912 in the archeological site can be seen in Cusco’s Museo Machu Picchu located in Casa Concha. Yale University returned them in 2011. The museum exhibit also includes locally discovered Inca pieces and objects uncovered during the restoration of Casa Concha. This didactic exhibition of fabrics, precious metals, tools, ceramic, bones, and a Machu Picchu Model that has a system of spotlights coordinated with the accompanying video will complement your visit to the World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu. Neverthelles, much Machu Picchu is still shrouded in mystery. And the legend of the utopian Inca city of Paititi lives on.

Sun Gate Machu Picchu

Inti Punku – Sun Gate – the first point of the Classic Inca Trail from which the Machu Picchu Citadel can be seen.


No large backpacks, smoking, littering, vandalism, nudism, or any clothes or activities that would disturb the sacred character of the Inca City.


Walking stick must have rubber tips and are only for elderly and handicapped visitors.

No drones or parachutes. Filming or professional photo-shoots require special permission.

No pets. Do not disturb the fauna and flora. In rare occasion you can see spectacled bears in or near Machu Picchu like in this recent video by Marlis Ferreyros.

Follow the routes.

More details here.


Virtual Visits:

New Google Street View



For more tips as to when the best time to visit Machu Picchu is and different ways to get there read this blog. More Machu Picchu close-ups here. More on the weather in Machu Picchu in this article.

Don’t miss our newest off-the-beaten-track route the Premium Inca Trail – the middle sections of the ancient Incan trail (no permits needed) that once connected Cusco and Machu Picchu. Our best value soft adventure is a combination of Cusco, Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu – Classic Cusco Package.


[1] Wikipedia

[2][4][6][9][13][14][15] (translation ours)

[3] El País (translation ours)

[5] (translation ours)

[7] Wikipedia, also

[8] Wikipedia


[11] Wikipedia

[12] Wikipedia


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