Machu Picchu is the name of the residential palace of the Inca Empire. The name means "Old Mountain", and it refers to one of two mountains on which Machu Picchu lies-the other is Huayna Picchu (Young Mountain), located 3,000 feet above the Urubamba Valley in Peru.
Location of Machu Pichu:
Machu Picchu lies on a perennially cloud-draped ridge amid the two peaks, part of the royal estate of the Inca king Pachacuti [AD 1438-1471]. The location is made up of single buildings arranged in groups, along streets, bordering to plazas and terraces. Most of the buildings are residences, some of white granite masonry such as that seen in the city of Cuzco. Some of the buildings, which must have been built for special purposes, are partly carved into the bedrock and partly built from finely cut white granite.
Machu Picchu is also one of the Inca's best kept secrets, since they did not left written records and Spanish chronicles make no mention of the citadel, it remains a mystery. It was discovered only in 1911 by the American Yale professor Hiram Bingham. The building style is "late imperial Inca" thought to have been a sanctuary or temple inhabited by high priests and the "Virgins of the Sun" (chosen women). Excavations revealed that of the 135 skeletons found,109 were women. No signs of post Conquest occupation were unearthed.
History of Machu Pichu:
The construction of Machu Picchu was likely started by order of the Inca emperor Pachacuti, earth shaker, sometime during the mid-15th century. Inca legend relates that Pachacuti ordered the construction of Machu Picchu to celebrate the defeat of a powerful rival ethnic group called the Chancas.
The Inca Empire grew huge in amazingly short time, less than100 years, from a small area in south central Peru to a vast region encompassing all of modern day Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and parts of what is now Colombia, Argentina and Chile. The expansion and development of the Inca into one of the world's great civilizations during such a short time remains one of the mysteries modern science has yet to solve.
The Inca called their empire the Land of the Four Quarters, Tahuantinsuyu. They considered their capital, Cusco to be the geographical/spiritual center or navel of the Inca universe. Ancient people of the Andes Mountains gave great importance to observation and reverence of the night sky along with other natural features, rivers and mountains they called apus.
The edge of our galaxy, the Milky Way, known to the Inca as the Celestial River or Mayu, is very prominent in South America. The Inca may have adopted the four quarters from the division of the night sky into quarters suggested by positioning of the Milky Way.