Machu Picchu was designed by the Inca Pachecutec and built in the 1400s. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, the ruins were voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World in 2007. It was built on a narrow ridge amongst tropical forest at 2,430 m (7,972ft) above sea level. This is 1,000 meters lower than Cusco, but still high enough that a person who comes directly from sea level may feel out of breath on the stairs.
Machu Picchu was abandoned in the 1500s during the Spanish invasion. It was successfully hidden from the Spanish, which kept it safe from the purposeful destruction visited upon places like Cusco and Ollantaytambo. In the intervening years before Hiram Bingham visited it on July 24, 1911, we lost the true history and purpose of the temples. While the intention for the agricultural terraces is clear, many of the buildings’ purposes can only be guessed at by archeologists.