Path entrance to Machu Picchu. The bridge can be removed to prevent access by enemies.

The Secret Bridge to Peru’s Most Legendary City, Machu Picchu

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“A devoted professor of archeology who suddenly finds himself in the far reaches of the earth trying to uncover some of the worlds’ oldest and most precious artifacts” certainly sounds like something that Hollywood scripts are made of. Indiana Jones traveling to remote jungles to find lost cities comes to mind for most. Fictional characters like Indiana Jones weren’t conceived in a vacuum, however. It is believed that this character represents the zealous ambition of early 20 th century explorers and one such explorer especially, Hiram Bingham, is believed to be a source of inspiration for the character Indiana Jones who spawned a Hollywood franchise based on his adventures. 

Hiram Bingham and the Re-discovery of Machu Picchu

Prior to 1911, Machu Picchu would have been known in most historical circles as nothing more than a place that Spanish conquistadors made up in their many tales of conquest. Chronicles of an elaborately built stone mansion in the sky built before the arrival of the Spanish seems almost inconceivable. Hiram Bingham, a South American history lecturer teaching at Yale, was an avid connoisseur of South American history and legend and had a strong desire to prove that this and other places built by the Incas were more than just a kid’s fairytale. He also had a strong desire to make a name for himself since he wanted to be remembered for more than just being the husband of the wealthy Tiffany heiress, Alfreda Mitchell.

‘The City in the Sky’ – Machu Picchu, ‘re-discovered’ by Hiram Bingham and his team in 1911

‘The City in the Sky’ – Machu Picchu, ‘re-discovered’ by Hiram Bingham and his team in 1911. ( CC BY 2.0 )

Armed with nothing more than his strong ambition and a few imprecise maps from earlier Spanish explorations, Hiram set out on his mission in 1911 to discover the mysterious Incan ruins with tips from a local by the name of Melchor Arteaga and the help of an eight-year-old local boy by the name of Pablito Riccharte.  The area wasn’t important to explorers and archaeologists of the time but Hiram would change that.  He would popularize this remote area of Peru and would indeed go on to make a name for himself as the one that re-discovered this beautiful and virtually intact “lost” city of the Incas.  After his initial exploration, The National Geographic Society funded a return expedition for the lecturer to learn more about the area and make it known to eager and interested audiences.

Hiram Bingham wasn’t the only one who found this place fascinating.  Chilean poet Pablo Neruda immortalized the splendor of these ancient ruins of this majestic city in his famous book “ Poem to Machu Picchu .”

And then up the ladder of the earth I climbed through the horrible thicket of the lost jungles to you, Machu Picchu.

Tall city of stones stacked up in steps, at last a dwelling where what is earthly was not hidden under slumbering clothes.

In you, like two parallel lines, the cradle of lightning and humanity rocking together in a thorny wind. 

Mother of stone, spume of the condors.

Highest reef of the human dawn.

britaxPablo Neruda, Poem to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is situated in a hard to access region of Peru.

Machu Picchu is situated in a hard to access region of Peru. ( CC BY 2.0 )

The cities’ placement high up in the Andes mountain range within the Cusco Region of Peru earned it its name “Machu Picchu” which means Old Mountain.  It is far more than just a city carved into a mountain.  Historians are divided on what purpose Machu Picchu served, some believing it to be a heavily fortified city to protect inhabitants from invaders and others believing it to be an elaborate city dedicated to the gods.  Still, others believe it was a palace retreat for the emperors and nobles of the city.  Regardless of what it was used for, the place undoubtedly is a remarkable feat of human engineering, in the league of the Egyptian pyramids. Over the years, many tourists and archaeologists alike would continue to marvel at its incredible engineering and become entranced by its eerie but surprisingly stable location atop the steep mountain chain in Peru.

The Secret Bridge of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu has certainly had its fair share of visitors over the years who have explored this legendary city.  What has become more alluring to researchers in the last decade is not the mysterious city itself but the pathways leading to it.  Hiram Bingham discovered it by taking a train to the area and climbing the rest of the way to it led by the locals who knew the area very well.  Pablo Neruda, like so many others, took the tourists’ path to the remote location.  However, a secret bridge has been discovered recently that is being described as an alternative route of access to the sky city.

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