History of Machu Picchu

The Citadel of Machu Picchu is as we know today this fortress from the Inca Empire whose ruins date from the 1300 DC. However, "Old Mountain," as its translation indicates, comes from the indigenous language Quechua. This native language is still being used in some villages in the southern part of the country, where this city is well known as the greatest Machu Picchu. The Citadel contains the remains of the ancient settlement formed by this village part of the Inca civilization, located at the east side of the valley constituted by mountain systems, Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, and the Central Andes in the South of the country. This geographical location on the eastern slope of the Cordillera de Vilcanota, just 80 kilometers from the city of Cuzco, still holds many of the remains and ruins built on stone that are all over the slopes of these mountain systems, presenting the different periods of the Inca civilization that left their traces and treasures at the Citadel of Machu Picchu.

The construction of the Citadel of Machu Picchu is attributed to the pronounced emperor, also known as one of the most intelligent statesmen Inca, Pachacuti. During the empire of Pachacuti, empire that started in 1438 B.C. but early ended in 1471 B.C., the Inca government planned the development of the citadel to tackle the problem of the over-population, at the same time that the exploitation of the land. The demographic situation forced Pachacuti to send a series of exploration teams that established the first settlements and villages all over the mountains. After a great victory in the battle of Machu Picchu, the rule of Pachacuti began its expansion, reaching its highest culmination with the creation of the great city of Cuzco.

Everything indicates that the main reason was not the over-population problem as much as the intellectual demographic expansion because, Pachacuti was well known as a spiritual leader and an extraordinary pioneer. This is why explains that the Citadel was strictly reserved for the high Inca aristocracy. Although it was strategically designed to take advantage of this unreachable location, the Citadel knew how to accommodate more than three generations while avoiding access to anyone who was not part of the Inca aristocracy, and that is basically one of the reasons that explains why there was only a single entrance which was used in their favor to improve measures for the protection of the city. The settlement is located between deep valleys surrounded by miles of the dense jungle, so it could easily be defended in case of attack, but it was also used to prevent access from the lower social classes plebeian. The fact of such high levels of restriction to get access to it could lead to isolation and the disappearance, following the abandonment of the city and its very important legacy of the Inca civilization.

The Empire of Tahuantinsuyo is the only one that has these colossal architectural wonders include the world-famous citadels of the Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu. Pachacuti chose the exact location of these settlements based on both, the development of agronomic production and the extraction of mineral deposits. These valleys have been well known for providing extraordinary resources such as minerals or exceptional land but also because the area has great weather conditions ideal for agriculture. All these resources made this location perfect for Pachacuti to start the expansion of the Empire into these unexplored territories that now show a large number of buildings and infrastructures that formed this big city: quarries, fields for both crop and livestock urban and religious centers and a network of communication constituted by countless paths and passages through the mountains. The city of Machu Picchu was created at the same time with the idea of accommodating only high class nobility of the Inca Empire, which is why this citadel presents the most precious works of architecture of the Empire. There is also an explanation of why this settlement was only for the high social class and it has to do with the geographical location. Machu Picchu was extremely important for the civilization because the system of mountains had a high spiritual meaning. Obviously, Machu Picchu was a holy sanctuary that held a spiritual meaning; but this civilization religious faith was based on astronomy studies where the stars were representing the Inca Civilization divinities what gives Machu Picchu the status of planetarium.

The town was completely built in stone and stands at a very high altitude, precisely 2,400 meters above sea level. There is no doubt that this was the perfect place for meditation: the sanctuary for the high class of the Incan society. However, such impressive urban focus needed of all the infrastructures that all cities need. The slopes of the mountain range of the Vilcanota still represents the supply of the citizens, where one can still find an large number of highlands that were designed for the agriculture and livestock, as well as hundreds of small-scale quarries.

Although it has scrapped the idea that the Machu Picchu came to form part of a system of fortifications of a warlike nature, is recognized, on the other hand, that the Machu Picchu was also designed with the idea of hosting a number of buildings designed to provide defensive measures against possible attacks by other neighboring civilizations with which the Inca Empire maintained several territorial clashes. This superb architectural design was carried out thanks to the perfect location and final location of the Citadel, which took advantage of the excellent conditions of camouflage, which gave this extreme spot surrounded by deep valleys and thick jungle. History confirms that Huayna Picchu was the surveillance of the city of Machu Picchu, which served you as a lookout to the territorial threatened neighboring civilizations, and later of the Spanish conquerors. In this way, the city could be prepared to receive the attack enemy, if the enemy could get to the exact location of the city as well as the path to it. Therefore, this sanctuary was allowed to retain its purpose as a center of leisure and recreation as well as shelter for the high society because it was hidden in the Andean jungle.

Guía de viajes de Machu Picchu