The Inca city is world-renowned and receives thousands of tourists every year. Discover what to do, when to go, how to get there and the history of Machu Picchu

The place that is considered UNESCO World Heritage and one of the 7 wonders of the world, it is located at an altitude of 2,400 meters and was populated from 1450 to 1540. It is probably the most typical and important place of the Inca Empire.

Surrounded by mysteries and exoticisms, the Inca city intrigues scientists to this day, and asks us how a pre-Columbian population could build a city entirely made of stones between 10 kg to 20 tons on top of a mountain with difficult access and without technological resources.

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Machu Picchu City History

Machu Picchu

History of Machu Picchu. Photo: Disclosure

Discovered in 1911 by archaeologist Hiram Bingham, the Inca city of Machu Picchu is world-renowned and receives thousands of tourists every year.

There are several theses that try to explain why Machu Picchu It was built on top of a mountain. Some of the most accepted theses say that the city served primarily as a center for astronomy studies, others say that the place was used for religious cults.

Machu Picchu it is in the midst of other mountains with even higher peaks, which served as protection for space. The city was built in a completely inhospitable region of the country where the Andes Mountains meet the Amazon.

History of Machu Picchu: agricultural and urban area

The agricultural zone is the part of the city where food was grown, even with large terraces that served both for cultivation and for draining rainwater. It is believed that it was necessary to import food from other cities in the heyday of the Inca civilization.

The urban area is where the most humble workers to the princesses of the city lived, and also where the main civil and religious activities took place. The huge area had houses, temples, mausoleums and squares. It is possible to discover the social level through the stones that formed the accommodations, the more worked, the more important the person was.

Another great mystery that surrounds the history of Machu Picchu is the reason why it was abandoned. The most coherent explanation given by researchers is that with the arrival of the Spaniards in Peru and the destruction of all the cities of the Inca Empire in search of gold, the leaders of Machu Picchu, decided to abandon the holy city and erase all traces of the paths to reach it, and thus try to keep it safe from the Spaniards. Even today it is possible to see some of the old trails used by the ancient Andeans that are hidden by the forest.

There is now a rule that limits visitation to Machu Picchu to 1,500 people a day – which, between us, is not followed. Local guides speak of 2,000 to 3,000 people walking through the lost city every day, all year round – and the number reaches 4,000 on special dates like the winter and summer solstice.

What to do in Machu Picchu

What to do in Machu Picchu

Photo: mailanmaik / Pixabay

Intipunku (Gate of the Sun) 

Named after the Quechua name, which means Gate of the Sun, Intipunku is the gateway for hikers who access the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail. The building was erected in dedication to the sun and during the summer solstice it fits perfectly into the ruin's entrance.

temple of the sun

The huge source of sacred water is next to the temple dedicated to Pachamama (mother earth) and has a huge circular tower that served as an area for astrological and religious events.


The sundial is located at the highest point of the Machu Picchu ruins. The huge stone object was used by the Inca peoples to record the passage of time, in addition to helping agriculture.

Temple of the Three Windows

Located in front of the Main Square, and its construction refers to the 3 levels in which the Incas divided the world: the sky (spiritual life), the earth (mundane life) and the underground (inner life).

Noble Sector

Entitled “Noble Sector”, it is an area of the city where several sovereign residences are located. Some of them have been restored to give the visitor a realistic view of what people's daily lives were like.

Huyana Picchu

Photo: Phillip Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

Another tour possibility for those visiting the attraction is the trail to the top of the Huyana Picchu mountain to see the holy city from a vantage point. To do the trail, you need to buy the specific ticket at a guardhouse at the beginning of the trail.

In order to control tourist access and keep the heritage preserved, the government of Peru limits access to up to 400 people per day, so it is necessary to arrive early to the place, they are divided into two groups with 200 people that leave between 7-8 am morning and another between 10-11 am.


Photo: Disclosure

The trail to the mountain Huyana Picchu it has no restrictions, but the ascent to the summit is quite difficult.

The path has thousands of stairs and a very steep path, and at times it is necessary to climb some rocks. The route is certainly not recommended for people who are afraid of heights.

How to get to Machu Picchu?

Photo: jorgecandia / Pixabay

The nearest airport is 112 km away from Aguas Calientes, which has hotels, restaurants and other tourist attractions. You must have read or heard reports about the train journey between Cusco and Machu Picchu.

There are companies that take tourists by train to Aguas Calientes: a Peru Rail and the Inca Rail, being the first most used for obtaining a wide range of schedules and for being the only one to leave from Poroy station, which is close to cusco.

to get to National park it is necessary to take a bus that makes the transfer, or for the more adventurous it is possible to reach Machu Picchu on foot, the itineraries for the trekking best known are primarily the Salkantay trails, which takes 5 days traveling an alternative path and the Classic Inca Trail taking just 4 days. The second is the traditional route that the Incas used to leave the capital of their empire (Cusco) to the Sacred City.

Tickets to Machu Picchu

Photo: karlomanson / Pixabay

First of all, remember: Machu Picchu is an attraction with a daily limit of visitors per day. Therefore, it is recommended to buy tickets to visit Machu Picchu before traveling. You can buy tickets directly at official site.

Tickets with student value are only sold at the offices located on Calle Garcilaso or at the Aguas Calientes Cultural Center Office.

If this is your option, do not forget to bring your documents that prove that you are a student. In both options the buyer is required to present the student card upon choice. Employees are advised not to sell attraction tickets even if you are copying them.

The first step to buy your ticket to Machu Picchu is to choose the tour options you want to take:

  • Ticket to Machu Picchu (main park entrance only)
  • Machu Picchu + Museum, Machu Picchu + Huaynapicchu
  • Tour Machu Picchu + Montana

When is the best time to visit Machu Picchu?

Photo: skeeze / Pixabay

If you are planning to visit the Inca city with a stable climate, stay tuned with our tips on the best time to visit Machu Picchu.

The Machu Picchu National Park is located in a tropical region that receives a lot of rain in the summer, not being very advisable for visits between November and March, the time that marks the highest number of rain showers eventually.

The average annual temperature in the region is 20°. The months from May to September are considered the high season, as it rains less in the region, however this is the busiest time and consequently the most expensive in the destination.

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