New7Wonders: Machu Picchu
Today’s Video Of The Day celebrates another one of the New7Wonders of the World: Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu is a stunning Inca citadel that sits high atop a mountain range, almost 8,000 feet above sea level, in present-day Peru. The historic site was originally built around 1450, intended as a royal estate for Inca king Pachacutec. But 100 years later, after the king’s death, the site was abandoned during the Spanish Conquest.
Built primarily out of dry stone walls, Machu Picchu consists of 3 main structures: The Temple of the Sun, Inti Watana, and the Room of the Three Windows. The Incas used a building technique called “ashlar,” where stones are cut without a mortar. While the region is prone to earthquakes, each stone was cut so precisely that they are able to “bounce” through tremors and then fall back into place. This engineering foresight is a major factor in how Machu Picchu has survived so long.
Due to its remote location, Machu Picchu remained unknown to the western world until 1911. That year, historian Hiram Bingham stumbled upon the site in search of the lost Inca city of Vilcabamba. Bingham mistakenly thought the two places were one and the same. The real Vilcabamba was not discovered until after his death in the 1950s.
The full Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary spans 32,592 acres, accessible by train or by foot. Today, it remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in South America.
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By Rory Arnold, Earth.com Staff Writer