Founded in 1450; abandoned in 1572 Culture: Inca civilization
Machu Picchu, also spelled Machupijchu, is a 15th-century Inca citadel located in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru. It sits above the Urubamba River valley in a narrow saddle between two peaks: Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu.
Although the site escaped detection by the Spaniards, the German adventurer Augusto Berns may have explored it in 1867. However, the existence of Machu Picchu was unknown in the West until it was “discovered” in 1911 by Yale University professor Hiram Bingham.
Bingham excavated Machu Picchu in 1915, 1934 by Peruvian archaeologist Luis E. Valcarcel, and 1940-41 by Paul Fejos. Additional findings in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba have revealed that Machu Picchu was part of a series of pucaras (fortified sites), tambos (travelers’ barracks or inns), and signal towers along the Inca foot roadway.
In 1983, UNESCO declared Machu Picchu as a World Heritage Site.