Machu Picchu is a fabulous Incan ruin found high in the Andes Mountains near Cuzco in southern Peru. Most modern archaeologists and historians feel that Machu Picchu was built in the mid-1400’s by the Incas as a ceremonial center for the worship of Incan gods.
The site is made up of single buildings arranged in groups along streets, adjacent to plazas and terraces. Most of the buildings are residences. Some of the buildings, which must have been for special purposes, are partly carved into the bedrock and partly built from finely cut white granite.
Machu Picchu is hidden in the deep jungle by the steep cliffs surrounding it. It has only one narrow entry point, which meant the site would be easily defensible by only a handful of warriors in case of a surprise attack.
Occupied by at least three generations of Incas, the fortress of Machu Picchu was abandoned in a sudden and mysterious way. The most likely theories explain its disappearance by the fact that its existence was unknown to the lower castes, and all but the small circle of the Inca’s immediate entourage were forbidden to approach it.
Because of this, Machu Picchu remained hidden for centuries before being rediscovered by Hiram Bigam in 1911. It is now considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is visited by thousands of tourists each year.