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Machu Pichu History

Known to some as, The Lost City of the Incas, or to others as a, 'Seven Wonder of the World', Machu Pichu remains a modern day mystery for both locals and foreigners alike. With a history hazier then the clouds surrounding her walls, the truth behind Machu Pichu's conception, reign, and abrupt abandonment, unfortunately dies off with each passing generation.

Erected around 1450 AC, Machu Pichu surprisingly only harbored civilization for about one-hundred years. Some believe she was built during the time of Spanish invasion, to be used as an Inca stronghold. Others believe the city was abandoned due to the onslaught of Western diseases introduced by European explorers. But I think it was nothing more then a summer home, a royal retreat for the Inca kings. Inhabited by over 400 royal concubines, I highly doubt these "mistresses" were going to be used in battle.

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The true history behind Machu Pichu, however, may never be known thanks to the secrecy of the local Quechua people, closest descendents to the Inca's. It was their secrecy that allowed this modern day marvel to go into hiding for over 400 years. As the Spanish conquistadors scowered the lands for gold and power, they uncovered, and more often then not, destroyed almost every Inca ruin and temple in their path. However, not even their seasoned explorers could find this skyhigh seplechur. Funny enough, Machu Pichu was actually discovered on accident in 1911 by an American explorer. Hiram Bingham was in search of a different, lost city, Vilacabamba, believed to be the last Inca stronghold against the Spanish, but stumbled across this diamond in the rough instead. Poor guy.

Situated between Machu Pichu and Wayna Pichu Mountain (the saddle), the city sits at a comfortable 7,800 feet above sea level. Surrounded on all sides by steep cliffs, falling off into the steamy valleys below, and hidden within the natural belly of its taller surrounding peaks, this location makes for the perfect "hiding spot". From the entrance, the "most photographed" region of Machu Pichu spreads out in all its photogenic glory. And, if you look just beyond the ruins, you will see that one of the Inca Kings still lives. He's just sleeping. Wayna Pichu Mountain sits in the back of the city, rising another 1,045 steps (trust me, we counted) and forms the kings nose. From this reference point, his full profile comes into view. Beginning at the far right, his forehead takes shape and to the far left, lips and a pertruding chin are revealed. Be warned though, that the climb up the royal schnoz is only for the physically fit. Almost a complete vertical ascent at times, with only a simple cable to rely on.

The view is well worth the climb, exposing the entirety of Machu Pichu city, Agricultural and Urban sectors, only visible from this vantage point. The Agricultural sector creeps up the mountain side, boasting hundreds of terraced walls which continue to secure the tiny plots of farmland tilled so many years ago. The urban area, consists of many residential homes (now, only stone walls remain lacking their once thatched roofs) along with holy temples, ceremonial courtyards, and of course, the royal chambers. We even saw the Royal Throne...the kings toilet, that is. The Incas were some of the best (if not the best) stonemasons the world had ever seen. They perfected the ashlar style of building, in which stones are cut and broken to fit perfectly within eachother, without the use of mortar. Many of these stone joints are so tight that not even a knife can pass through. Good thing, because Peru happens to sit on a gigantic fault line, and if not for their building expertise, Machu Pichu never would have survived years of quakes. Doorways are slanted inward, creating a slight triangular design and most wall layers are offset to fit within each other more securely. Not only were the Inca's genius masons, they were also astronomical wizzes. The 'Intihuatana', the most sacred rock in all Machu Pihcu, sits atop the towns highest summit. Referred to as,The Hitching Point of the Sun, it was a crude astronomical clock used to determine the seasons, Had the Spanish found Machu Pichu they would have destroyed this ancient sundial, along with every other form of pagan sun worship blashemy. However, Intihuatana was lucky enough to escape the conquistadors rath, only to fall hundreds of years later to a different enemy...a filmcrew. In 2000, a film crew was permitted to use this sacred site for a beer commercial and accidentally dropped a crane on Intihuatana, breaking off a gigantic piece of her aging dial. Hmmm...I wonder if the filmcrew happened to be Spanish... And that's all of now folks. I could blab on and on about the possible histories behind Machu Pichu, but since nothing is fact, I would only be offering ficticious ideas.

For more of Reggie's crazy adventures, please visit: http://www.backpackerswanted.com

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