Welcome to our exploration of the fascinating history of Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca citadel nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. In this article, we will delve into the rise and glory of Machu Picchu, investigate theories on its abandonment, examine the environmental and social factors that may have played a role, and discover how this remarkable site was rediscovered and preserved. Join us on this virtual journey to uncover the secrets of Machu Picchu!

The Rise and Glory of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was constructed around the 15th century during the height of the Inca Empire. This architectural marvel was built on a mountaintop, at an elevation of approximately 7,970 feet (2,430 meters) above sea level. Its strategic location provided breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

The purpose of Machu Picchu remains a subject of debate among historians and archaeologists. Some believe it was a religious and ceremonial center, while others argue that it served as a royal estate for Inca rulers. The precise function of this remarkable site continues to captivate researchers to this day.

Theories on Machu Picchu’s Abandonment

The exact reasons behind the abandonment of Machu Picchu by the Incas remain a mystery. Various theories have been proposed, each offering unique insights into this enigmatic puzzle. One theory suggests that the Spanish conquest and the fall of the Inca Empire disrupted the communication and supply networks, leading to the desertion of the site.

Another theory proposes that Machu Picchu was abandoned due to a devastating outbreak of disease, such as smallpox. The lack of immunity among the Inca population could have resulted in significant casualties, forcing survivors to flee the area.

Environmental Factors

The challenging environment surrounding Machu Picchu may have also played a role in its abandonment. The site is situated in a region prone to earthquakes, landslides, and extreme weather conditions. These natural hazards could have made the area increasingly difficult to inhabit and maintain.

Additionally, the steep terrain and limited agricultural land may have posed challenges in sustaining a growing population. The scarcity of resources could have contributed to the decision to relocate elsewhere.

Social and Political Factors

Social and political factors may have influenced the abandonment of Machu Picchu as well. The Incas were known for their extensive road network and administrative system, but the disruption caused by the Spanish conquest could have led to a breakdown in these structures.

Furthermore, internal conflicts within the Inca Empire and the shift of political power may have resulted in the neglect and abandonment of certain sites, including Machu Picchu.

The Rediscovery and Preservation of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu remained hidden from the outside world for centuries until its rediscovery in 1911 by the American explorer Hiram Bingham. Bingham stumbled upon the ruins while searching for the lost city of Vilcabamba.

Since its rediscovery, Machu Picchu has captivated the hearts and minds of people worldwide. Efforts have been made to preserve and protect this UNESCO World Heritage site, ensuring its cultural and historical significance endures for future generations.


The abandonment of Machu Picchu remains an intriguing mystery, with various factors potentially contributing to its decline. Whether it was due to environmental challenges, social upheaval, or a combination of different elements, the allure of this ancient citadel continues to fascinate and inspire visitors from around the world.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What was the purpose of Machu Picchu?

The purpose of Machu Picchu is still debated among experts, but it is believed to have served as a religious and ceremonial center, as well as a possible royal estate for Inca rulers.

2. Why did the Incas abandon Machu Picchu?

The exact reasons for the Incas’ abandonment of Machu Picchu are unknown. Theories include the disruption caused by the Spanish conquest, disease outbreaks, and environmental challenges.

3. Were there any signs of conflict or invasion at Machu Picchu?

No conclusive evidence of conflict or invasion has been found at Machu Picchu. It is believed that the site was abandoned before significant external threats emerged.

4. How was Machu Picchu rediscovered?

Machu Picchu was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, an American explorer, during his search for Vilcabamba. The ruins were largely intact and hidden from the outside world.

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