There are some truly incredible ancient archaeological sites on our planet; places where merely standing there makes you feel overwhelmed with the amazing architectural feat of their creators, and humbled in their presence. Some of the most memorable and amazing archaeological sites I’ve visited over the years have been the Coliseum in Italy, and the Tikal Ruins in Guatemala. However, I agree with Gracie Murano, the author of this article at oddee.com, when I say that Machu Picchu is the world’s #1 most fascinating ancient ruin.

Machu Picchu in Peru is a place that positively exudes mystique and enchantment. One of the things that makes it so mysterious is that it remained hidden for 4 full centuries, known only by a handful of locals, until the year 1911 when it was discovered by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Machu Picchu is surrounded by dense jungle, which is how it remained concealed for so long despite its expansive size.

Another factor that greatly contributes to the mystery surrounding Machu Picchu is that we don’t really have that much information about the purpose of the ancient city. You see, at the time that Machu Picchu was built, around 1450 at the height of the Inca Empire, the Incas did not have a written language. Therefore, there is not much documentation from the creators themselves about how and why they built their city. Therefore, the place itself is brimming with folklore.

There are many different theories surrounding the deliberate placement and purpose of each building with the incredibly extensive ruins at Machu Picchu. Some believe it was a citadel, others argue it must have served as an astronomical observatory or important spiritual place. One thing everyone does seem to agree on, however, is the significance of the site. It was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981, an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983, and deemed one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

One common misconception about Machu Picchu is that it consists of just one building. The truth is that Machu Picchu is a whole city where approximately 1,200 people once lived. The city is quite isolated from the rest of Peru, so it is thought that its people would have had little contact with the rest of the country, or that perhaps it was actually a resort for Inca rulers. The city is located 7,000 feet above sea level among the Andean Mountain Range, and appears to cling to the steep hillside. It was inhabited for only a short amount of time within the 4,000 year history of Andean Peru. Machu Picchu is thought to have been inhabited for only about 100 years.

You can view photo after photo of Machu Picchu, but I can guarantee you, these pictures do it little justice. To stand in the presence of this ancient city, among thick jungle, dense mist, and towering mountains, is a truly magical experience.

Stuart