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The Lasso

The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

The Lasso

The Student News Site of Santa Rosa Academy

The Lasso

Machu Picchu: Popular Tourist Spot with Plenty of History

Machu Picchu is a popular tourist destination in the South American country Peru. It is an Inca ruin located along the heights of the Andes Mountains, and is even considered one of the Swiss Corporation’s New 7 Wonders of the World. According to, the ruins had over 979,000 visitors in 2022. Having previously been a citadel of the Inca civilization, Machu Picchu brings with its amazing views and structures a very interesting and mysterious history.

An aerial view of Machu Picchu. It lies among the huge mountains of Cordillera de Vilcabamba. (Dominique Müller)

As previously mentioned, current day Machu Picchu is the vestige of an ancient Inca citadel, though it is not nearly as ruined as the word ruin would have you believe. The ruins are incredibly well preserved, being almost 75% original, with just 25% being brought back through restoration. This is especially impressive when you realize that Machu Picchu was first built all the way back in around 1450 AD. The citadel’s purpose is still unknown, but there are several different theories. The two most common ones are that the place was used for either religious purposes or as a royal estate. No matter what they were used for, the impressive set of structures was a huge accomplishment for the time. However, just 100 years after its construction, historians estimate that Machu Picchu was abandoned. This fits with the timeframe around which the Spanish began their conquest of the Inca Empire, but this is not believed to be the reason Machu Picchu was fleed. The reason for the Incas’ departure from Machu Picchu is instead theorized to have been caused by a smallpox epidemic.

With how big and presumably important Machu Picchu was, one would think that the structures were then taken over by Spain and used for something else right? No, instead, Machu Picchu was almost lost to history. After being abandoned, it seems the Incan’s never told anyone else about the citadel, and the secret almost died with them. However, in 1911, American archaeologist, Hiram Bingham accidentally discovered Machu Picchu while trying to find Vilcabamba, an Inca stronghold. A farmer native to the area Bingham was searching gave him the heads up that some old ruins laid ahead, calling them Machu Picchu. This translates to “old peak” in the language he was speaking. After a long trek up the mountain the old citadel lies on, Bingham saw Machu Picchu for the first time. He shared his discovery by writing a book, and spreading the word to eager tourists. Since then, Machu Picchu has been a popular tourist spot, with a rich history.

An overgrown section of Machu Picchu. More ruins are in the background. (Christophe Meneboeuf – http://ww)
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