Located in the Sacred Valley in Peru, Machu Picchu rises nearly 8,000 feet above sea level. In 2007, it was voted one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Not bad for a 570-year old city! Shrouded in clouds and mystery, the panoramic views of this “Lost City” will stay with your family a lifetime. Read on to learn more fun facts about Machu Picchu for kids.
A Mysterious Cloud-Capped City
The Incas excelled in astrology and architecture, and Machu Picchu remains a resounding monument to their advances. We know that the Inca citadel was constructed around 1450 and abandoned about a century later. But that’s where the trail goes cold…
Archaeologists now speculate that Machu Picchu was the royal estate of Pachacutec (“He who shakes the Earth”) – a powerful Inca emperor. But nobody knows why Pachacutec had Machu Picchu built, let alone how. The Incas left behind no written record.
Even more intriguing is the question: why was the city abandoned? The city walls and artifacts recovered from the site betray no evidence of a siege or invasion. And Spanish Conquistadors of the 16th and 17th centuries never found the city. In fact, Machu Picchu was only known to a handful of local farmers, shepherds, and missionaries until 1911 when Hiram Bingham III stumbled upon it.
The Lost City Rediscovered
Bingham found Machu Picchu by accident. He was actually in hot pursuit of another site, Vilcabamba. But Melchior Arteaga, a local farmer, thought Bingham might be interested in Machu Picchu or “Old Mountain” in Quechuan, too.
During their trek to “Old Mountain,” Bingham and his men met local farmers who volunteered a small boy to guide them the rest of the way to the Incan city. As Bingham later recounted, “Suddenly I found myself confronted with the walls of ruined houses built of the finest quality of Inca stonework.”
If These Walls Could Speak…
An estimated 60 percent of Machu Picchu’s construction actually occurred underground! The Inca took great care to build the city on deep foundations of crushed rock for drainage. Why? These engineering precautions protected Machu Picchu from the area’s frequent earthquakes.
What’s even more astounding? The Incas excelled at a special type of stone construction known as ashlar. They used polished drystone walls of quarried granite. These stone blocks were fit together so perfectly that no mortar was required.
Machu Picchu contained an urban center of 150 buildings. Surrounding this city center was naturally occurring springs and huge swathes of irrigated, terraced land. This meant Inca farmers could grow crops for up to four times as many people as the city’s actual population.
The Incas constructed a paved road to Machu Picchu known as the Inca Trail. Today, thousands of tourists make the two- to five-day trek up the Inca Trail. But it requires careful preparation due to the area’s high elevation.
Machu Picchu for Kids
As one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the world, the Peruvian government has implemented new regulations to ensure the safety of Machu Picchu. No more than 2,500 visitors can visit the site per day, and every group must have a guide.
Luckily, we handle all of the details for you on our Peru Family Adventure, making Machu Picchu for kids a worry-free, awe-inspiring adventure. Visit Lima and Cuzco, explore the rainforest, enjoy a memorable stay with the artisans of the Sacred Valley and complete your adventure by breathing in the magical spirit of the Incas in Machu Picchu.
We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about our meaningful family vacations.