Built at the height of the Inca Empire Manchu Picchu is a pre- Columbian 15th century Inca site that can be found located 2,430 meters above sea level. Manchu Picchu is nestled on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru where it was abandoned some 100 years an underlying result of the Spanish Conquest. Some believe it is likely that most of the inhabitants died from smallpox that may have been introduced to the area by Spanish conquistadors. There are no recorded facts to support the smallpox theory or that it may have been introduced by the Spanish settlers. Scared rocks from other regions were noticeable defaced by the Spanish conquistadors; however at the Manchu Picchu site the scared rocks have been untouched. Often the site can be heard being referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas” it is probably one of the most familiar icons on the Inca World.
The belief as to why or for what purpose the Manchu Picchu was constructed varies widely. The majority of archeologists believe the site was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. Others believe the Manchu Picchu site was the traditional birthplace of the Incan “Virgins of the Sun.” While others argue Manchu Picchu was a sacred religious site due to the location of the complex.
Manchu Picchu is built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry- stone walls, meaning it was built without using a substance to hold the stones together. Instead the stones are laid in an interlocking fashion, as with other sites that were dry- stone built. Manchu Picchu has three different primary buildings the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows. All three of the buildings in the opinion of most archeologists are located in what they are referring to as The Scared District of Manchu Picchu. Those who believe in this theory counter with the geographic location of Manchu Picchu because the mountain range and the height at which the site sits hold high religious significance in Incan Religion. Other opinions as to the reason for Manchu Picchu’s construction include a prison for a select few or those who had committed very severe crimes against the Incan people. Some even believe that the site was built as an agricultural testing site. According to scientists in this particular site there are many micro- climates and many different types could be tested in the soils, while others believe the site was erected for the gods to live in.
In 1981 Peru declared Manchu Picchu an area that surrounds the complex about 330 square kilometers a “Historical Sanctuary.” Manchu Picchu was temporally closed to the public in January 2010 due to a tragic flood. It has been since reopened for viewing.