Situated 2,430 m above sea level in Peru, Machu Picchu is the greatest legacy of the Inca civilization with its sophisticated walls, terraces, and ramps.
Although the exact role of the complex is still a mystery, it was probably a religious, astronomical, and agricultural center. The Inca Empire had to abandon this fifteenth-century complex following the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century. Machu Picchu remained hidden until 1911 when Hiram Bingham from Yale University discovered the site.
There are around 200 structures at the site, and a large square divides the complex into two as farming and religious areas. Located between the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon Basin, the site has exceptionally rich flora and fauna. It is still unknown exactly how Incas domesticated these wild plant species.
One of the most prominent features of the complex is the fascinating Inca walls comprising closely wedged stones. The craftsmanship of the Inca is especially spectacular considering that they used no draft animals, iron tools, or wheels. This type of wall building not only provides aesthetic satisfaction but also enables the site to remain largely intact despite the frequent earthquakes in the region. That is, the stones of the Incan structures bounce during an earthquake and fall back into their place. Thus most of the buildings at the site could escape collapsing long before.
When Hiram Bingham arrived on the site, he was looking for Vilcabamba where the Inca escaped after the Spanish arrived in 1532. During his lifetime, Bingham insisted that Vilcabamba and Machu Pichu were the same places. However, he was proved wrong after his death, believing that Vilcabamba was built in the jungle about 80 km west of Machu Picchu. It is also dubious whether the complex is really a “lost city” because there were three farmers living on the archaeological site when Bingham arrived.