When Machu Picchu Was Built, Its Incredible History and Importance

when machu picchu was built the world's most beautiful city was born.

Ever wondered about when Machu Picchu was built, yes the the sacred Incan citadel nestled in the Andes Mountains? Built during the 15th century, this archaeological marvel remains an intriguing mystery.

This blog post will explore and unravel its intricate timeline – from construction to rediscovery. Ready for a deep dive into ancient history? Let’s journey back in time!

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Key Takeaways

  • Machu Picchu was built during the Inca Empire between the 15th and 16th centuries.
  • The exact construction date is debated, with some evidence suggesting parts of it may have been built even earlier.
  • Machu Picchu showcases the impressive engineering skills and ingenuity of the ancient Incas.
  • Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site and attracts tourists from around the world.

History of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu, known as the “Lost City of the Incas,” has a fascinating history that dates back to ancient times.


“Machu Picchu” is a Quechua name. Quechua was the language used by the Inca people. “Machu” means old or ancient, and “Picchu” translates to peak or mountain. So, Machu Picchu stands for ‘Old Peak’ in English.

This name points to its high location in the Andes Mountains of Peru.

Ancient life

Machu Picchu was home to the ancient Inca civilization, which thrived in South America around 600 years ago. This magnificent city nestled high in the Andes Mountains was a bustling hub of activity during its time.

The Incas built impressive stone structures and terraces, showing their mastery of architecture and engineering. They lived in Machu Picchu for several generations before it was mysteriously abandoned.

Today, visitors can explore the remnants of this once-thriving ancient society and marvel at their incredible accomplishments. Hikes to Machu Picchu along the original route the Inca took to reach the site are also popular.

Encounters with Westerners

Machu Picchu had been abandoned and hidden from the world for centuries until its rediscovery by Hiram Bingham, an American history professor, in July 1911. Bingham was amazed by the beauty and significance of this ancient Inca city.

He believed he had found the lost city of Vilcabamba, which was once a stronghold of resistance against Spanish conquistadors. Bingham’s discovery generated worldwide interest and brought attention to the impressive Incan architecture and engineering at Machu Picchu.

Since then, it has become a popular destination for travelers seeking to experience the power and mystery of the Inca Empire firsthand.

When Machu Picchu was Built a World Wonder was Born

Machu Picchu was built during the Pre-Inca era and thrived as an Inca Empire citadel from 1475 to 1534.

Pre-Inca era

Before the Inca Empire, there was a time when Machu Picchu did not exist. The exact timeline of this pre-Inca era is unclear, but it is believed that the site may have been used for agricultural purposes.

It was during the height of the Inca Empire in the 15th century that Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate or sacred religious site for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. This period marked a significant chapter in the history of Machu Picchu and set the stage for its future as a remarkable archaeological wonder in Western South America.

Inca Empire period (1475-1534)

During the Inca Empire period from 1475 to 1534, Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. This ancient citadel showcases the impressive engineering skills of the Inca civilization and is considered one of the seven new wonders of the modern world.

It’s believed that the dwellings at Machu Picchu were occupied for about a century before they were abandoned. This period in history marked a time of great power and expansion for the Inca Empire, and Machu Picchu stands as a testament to their ingenuity and architectural prowess.

Post-Pachacutec Inca period

After the reign of Pachacuti, the Inca Empire started to decline. With the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in 1532, the empire faced further disruption and was eventually defeated.

This period marked the end of Inca rule and led to the abandonment of many cities, including Machu Picchu. The exact reasons for its desertion remain unclear, but it is believed that political instability and disease played a role.

Today, Machu Picchu stands as a testament to the power and ingenuity of the Inca civilization during this post-Pachacutec era.

Rediscovery and Modern History

In 1911, American history professor Hiram Bingham stumbled upon the “Lost City of the Incas” during his expedition in Peru. The rediscovery of Machu Picchu sparked international interest and continues to captivate visitors from around the world today.

Rediscovery of Machu Picchu (1911-1918)

Over 100 years ago, an American history professor named Hiram Bingham uncovered the ancient citadel of Machu Picchu. From 1911 to 1918, Bingham led several expeditions and revealed this lost city to the world.

hiram bingham

The importance of his discovery cannot be overstated, as it shed light on the incredible Inca civilization and its architectural achievements. Today, Machu Picchu stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site and continues to captivate travelers with its breathtaking beauty and mysterious past.

Current state and significance

Machu Picchu is now a popular tourist destination and holds great significance in the world of archaeology. Today, it stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site and showcases the remarkable architectural skills of the Inca civilization.

The ancient citadel’s well-preserved ruins attract visitors from all over the globe who are captivated by its beauty and mystery. As one of the seven new wonders of the modern world, Machu Picchu continues to amaze travelers with its breathtaking panoramic views and rich historical importance.

It serves as a testament to the power and ingenuity of an ancient civilization that once thrived in Peru’s Andes Mountains.

Unraveling the Timeline of Machu Picchu

New findings and conflicting theories on the construction date have sparked scholarly debate, making it an intriguing topic to explore.

The Inca era and potential timeline

During the Inca era, which was at its height in the 15th century, Machu Picchu was constructed as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. It is believed that this ancient citadel served as a royal residence or a sacred religious site.

The exact timeline of its construction and occupation remains a subject of scholarly debate. However, it is estimated that the dwellings at Machu Picchu were likely occupied from the mid-15th to the early or mid-16th century.

This timeframe showcases the impressive engineering skills of the Inca civilization and their ability to construct such a magnificent city on a mountain ridge in present-day Peru. Today, Machu Picchu stands as a UNESCO World Heritage site and continues to captivate visitors with its awe-inspiring beauty and historical significance.

New findings and conflicting theories on construction date

Archaeologists and historians have made new discoveries about the construction date of Machu Picchu, adding more complexity to its timeline. While it is widely believed that the ancient citadel was built during the height of the Inca Empire in the 15th century, recent findings suggest that parts of it may have been constructed even earlier.

This conflicting information has sparked scholarly debates and further investigation into the origins of this magnificent site. Despite these uncertainties, what remains clear is that Machu Picchu showcases the remarkable architectural skills and legacy of the Inca civilization, making it a must-visit destination for history lovers and adventurers alike.

Importance of Machu Picchu today

Machu Picchu holds immense importance today as a remarkable UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the seven new wonders of the modern world. It attracts thousands of travelers and tourists each year who are captivated by its mysterious ruins and stunning natural surroundings.

The ancient citadel showcases the incredible architectural achievements of the Inca civilization, with its terraces, stone walls, and intricate masonry. Machu Picchu also offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Andes Mountains, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking adventure and cultural immersion.

Its historical significance and beauty continue to inspire awe and wonder in visitors from all over the globe.


In conclusion, the exact construction date of Machu Picchu remains a subject of debate among scholars. While it is believed to have been built during the peak of the Inca Empire in the 15th century, new findings and theories continue to emerge.

Regardless of its precise origin, Machu Picchu stands as a testament to the incredible engineering skills and ingenuity of the ancient Incas. Today, it continues to captivate travelers from around the world with its rich history and breathtaking beauty.

About the Author

Founder of Karikuy, an organization in Peru that brings travelers to visit and explore the country. Julio also runs the Karikuy Volunteer program and is the editor of this blog. Julio likes to write about his adventures in Peru as well as Peruvian folklore, mysteries and secluded locations.

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