Myths and Legends Surrounding Machu Picchu

The citadel of Machu Picchu holds a great many mysteries and myths surrounding its purpose and construction. Like the pyramids of Egypt, the citadel is an impressive feat of architecture for the age in which it was built. Theses mysteries have inspired many myths and legends about Machu Picchu.

Why Was Machu Picchu Built?

One of the biggest questions surrounding this ancient wonder of the world is: Why was Machu Picchu built? And there are a great many theories to answer this question including:

A Place of Sacrifice

Some believe that Machu Picchu was a place where female virgins were sacrificed (Ñustas in Quechua) due to the large number of female bones found at the site.

An Astronomical Center

Anyone who has visited or made the trek to Machu Picchu can attest to the Inca’s incredible understanding of the cosmos. Throughout the site, there are large stones carved to perfection and perfectly aligned with the astronomical positions of the planets and stars. The Intihuatana stone is one such example. This has led some to believe that the site was an astronomical center for the Incas.

A Refuge for the Incas

Some believe that Machu Picchu was built as a last refuge for the Incas. When the Spaniards arrived and began conquering Inca territories, it is believed that the Incas fled to the jungle and found refuge at Machu Picchu where they lived together with Augustinian monks.

How Was Machu Picchu Built?

Another great mystery that surrounds the citadel is: How was Machu Picchu built? How could the Incas move such large rocks before the invention of the wheel? There are some fairly far-out theories for these mysteries. Judge for yourself if any of these theories may be true during your trek to Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu and Atlantis

Some believe that the same minds behind the ancient city of Atlantis (described in Plato’s work) arrived in the Peruvian Andes and shared their technology with the Incas.


Others believe that the Incas prepared a special concoction of plants that weakened stone and made them more malleable for achieving the formations you see today at Machu Picchu.


Despite the mystery that still enshrouds Machu Picchu, flocks of visitors from around the world trek to this ancient feat of architectural wonder year after year. Perhaps, it’s the mystery that intrigues and attracts. Visit Machu Picchu and form your own opinions.

For more information about treks and tours of Machu Picchu, please contact us.

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