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10 Things You Didn't Know About Machu Picchu

There are so many wondrous marvels in our world that it's hard to figure out where to begin when planning a vacation or excursion. A great place to start is in trying to see the many wonders of the world. Machu Picchu, located in Peru, is an ancient creation by the Incan people.

It is a mysterious set of ruins that many tourists flock to year after year. There are hidden temples and plenty of incredible secrets to be found if you visit. Read up on some of the histories before you go because there is lots to learn about this hidden gem. Here are ten things you didn't know about Machu Picchu for starters!

10 Machu Picchu means "old peak"

As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, you might consider the name Machu Picchu to mean something transcendental or magical in English. In reality, Machu Picchu simply translates to "old peak" or "old mountain." That's about as literal as you can get considering Machu Picchu is an old mountain.

The ruins of Machu Picchu are situated more than 2,000 meters above sea level. It's not one of the tallest places in the world but it's still a marvel to go and explore the ruins, the mountaintop, and the legendary Inca Trail.

9 The stones used to create Machu Picchu were delivered by hand

Approximately 5,000 Incans worked to build the Machu Picchu by hand. They didn't even use animals to cart the heavy granite stones to their destination as the Incans respected the animals and didn't want to force them to endure such a back-breaking burden.

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Interestingly, they didn't use mortar or any kind of sticky material to keep the stones together. Instead, they simply placed the massive bricks together. This is another reason they did it by hand since it was such a precise and practiced project. It is unclear how, or if they took measurements in the process.

8 It was illegal to enter Machu Picchu wearing another country's dress

This is a rule that was enforced more in the past than it is today but it still recommended that you don't go waltzing into Machu Picchu wearing the customary colors or outfits of another country. There are a lot of rules you must follow when visiting Machu Picchu.

It is a sacred site and the people who work hard to maintain its sacred value are only doing their job to ensure visitors and tourists don't ruin the sanctity for others. You can't climb on the structure or wear anything offensive. Wearing something emblematic of another country is just disrespectful.

7 A small mirror is said to ward off evil spirits

Due to the location of Machu Picchu, many people have become to fathom it may have once housed something sinister. There is so much we don't know about this ancient mecca it's not hard to see why locals and tourists would start to come up with ludicrous legends about evil spirits haunting the place.

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Although to be fair, the ominous fog and bad weather could lead anyone to think something like that. Depending on the tour guide you have, you may experience them carrying a small mirror with them. It is said that these mirrors can ward off evil spirits in the area.

6 No one knows what the real purpose of Machu Picchu is

Despite being one of the Seven Wonders of the World, there is something deeply mysterious about the origins of Machu Picchu. This is not uncommon for some of the world's greatest beauties. We also don't know what exactly the Stonehenge was created for, or even who made it. The same can be said for Machu Picchu.

There are many theories out there that this sky city was built as a monument to the Sun God for the Incan people to come worship. Along those lines, many believed it was a religious sanctuary or a sacred city. Although perhaps the most realistic theory is that it was built as a retreat for an Incan Emperor.

5 There is an annual Inca Trail marathon

The Inca trail is a massive hiking trail that comes to completion at Machu Picchu. Due to erosion, there are now strict limits on the number of people who can hike the trail every year and during the annual marathon. It is not the type of trail beginners should attempt as it is elevated and difficult to traverse in certain areas.

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The highest point on your trek will be at Dead Woman's Pass (because that's not ominous). The entire trail was once constructed by the Incans, potentially as a path to build the fabled Machu Picchu.

4 The person who discovered Machu Picchu did so by accident

Hiram Bingham stumbled upon Machu Picchu in 1911 but it was by complete accident. While he was indeed looking for a supposed lost Incan city, the actual place he was seeking out was Vitcos, the last Incan refuge. Instead, he realized he had actually discovered the untouched city of Machu Picchu.

While technically Machu Picchu was never "lost" as it existed there all along, it was rediscovered by archaeologists after Hiram Bingham's trek. Over the years, Bingham transported thousands of valuable artifacts to a museum at Yale University to be preserved for future generations.

3 It was likely part of a pilgrimage trail

According to Seeker, Giulio Magli, a professor from Milan's Polytechnic University, believes that reaching Machu Picchu was part of an Incan pilgrimage route from, or to, the Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca.

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"This island had a very important sanctuary which was a destination of pilgrimage. An apparently insignificant rock was believed to be the place of birth of the sun, and therefore of the Inca civilization," Magli states in a quote Seeker reported from Discovery News. Given the many theories about Machu Picchu being a religious sanctuary and a refugee city, this is a solid city about its importance to history and to the Incan people.

2 It can withstand earthquakes

Because Peru is somewhere with a high amount of seismic activity, one might anticipate an ancient structure like Machu Picchu to have taken a great deal of damage from earthquakes over the years. However, the Incans were savvy enough to ensure their building of this sacred city had features allowing it to withstand catastrophic movement from the tectonic plates beneath the surface.

One of the reasons they didn't use mortar during the construction process was so that when an earthquake struck, the bricks would be able to resettle and maintain their sturdiness. They also constructed their doors and windows so they would slant inwards.

1 There are hidden temples inside

If you are able to get tickets and pay Machu Picchu a visit, make sure you do your research on the area beforehand. Apart from the museums, photo hotspots, and hiking trails, there are a few other things you should look into that many people miss.

There are a few hidden temples tucked away into the magical city such as the Temple of the Moon. It will require a hike to get you there and there are guides available. If you make it to the area you'll see an incredible shrine that you might have missed otherwise.

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