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Machu Picchu, an ancient civilization city, is one of the lost cities of Inca Empire which was set up around 1460 in Peru. Though a few experts suggest that the city vanished away with the outspread of smallpox, there are other theories which conclude that the city was a prison for all those who took to heinous crimes against Inca society, though nothing has been proved yet. However, Machu Picchu belongs to the new list of ‘Seven Wonders of the World’.
Machu Picchu earned the name of ‘The Lost City’ purely because it remained deserted for almost a hundred years. In 1911, Hiram Bingham, an American historian discovered this lost city. Machu Picchu is not only known for its fascinating ruins but also for its strategic location, which is on the edge of an abyss. This fascinating city, which stands as a symbol of great ancient engineering and town planning, was constructed on the highly cumbersome, wild and, inaccessible mountainous area.
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Machu Picchu Facts
The Pre-Columbian site of Machu Picchu is situated 2400 meters above the sea level, on a mountain ridge over the Urubamba Valley in Peru and is surrounded by a wall of height six meters and width 1.8 meters. Machu Picchu is basically divided into four segments or regions. To the north of the site lies a religious area which consists of a Holy square, a three-windowed temple, a uniquely designed holy temple, and priest’s mansion. The region also consists of generous residential facilities for the people of the city. Research on a special solar observatory found at the site, revealed that the facility allowed the people to decide on the time and seasons, owing to the shadows formed.
The buzzing activities of the estimated 1200 people of the city are expected to have taken place in the south-west part of the city, which houses the dwellings and a tower. The lower section of the lost city includes residences which are segregated from each other because of the narrow alleys and various terraces or platforms that were made for farming. These platforms were coupled together using a complex system of artificial canals used for irrigation. The residential region contained 172 premises of varied shapes and sizes, which were also linked by 109 stairways built with amazing finish. A large monumental burial chamber was formed of a stone building with an arched interior and carved wall and was used for rites and sacrifices. The city also has a citadel, which was particularly the place where the criminals were given ruthless punishments.
The interiors of the rooms, where the sages lived were built to have reddish walls and the rooms of princesses were constructed in a special trapeze shape. The Inca Trail was the lane that connected Cusco with Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail comprised of several localities, including Huayna Picchu, a place where one could experience spirituality. En-route Huayna Picchu one would still notice various naturally stone carved caves, caverns, terraces, steep stairways, the tombstones and the mausoleum in the path.
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It is supposed that prior to setting up of the city; the engineers must have had given a proper thought to the location and the availability of water springs for the population which would later settle down there. The Inca city had a special water supply system which worked with the help of a spring collection system comprising of a stone wall. At first, the water entered through the wall into a rectangular stone trench and then got distributed into channels, around 749 meters in length. These channels followed a reasonable design capacity of about 300 liters per minute and which made the water available to all 16 fountains of the city. The water got accumulated in a stone basin before getting transported to the access channel for the other fountains.
The fountains were partially enclosed by walls and were available for the public use; however only after the emperor’s permission. Moreover, the emperor also had its own private fountains which were not accessible to the common public. The remarkable engineering adopted during those days ensured that the surface drainage system disposed the agricultural and urban storm water far away from the water supply canal. Moreover water system planning was done in such a way that during the dry seasons, 10 liters per minute water-flow was sufficient for the population requirements, and only in extreme conditions, the river became the source of water-supply.
Machu Picchu was announced to be a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary only in 1981. Later in 1983, the UNESCO honored it with the title of World Heritage Site. Presently, Machu Picchu offers exciting opportunities for hikers, tourists, and explorers through the Inca Trail.