Machu Picchu Travel Tours

Who Discovered Machu Picchu?


Who Discovered Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu, the ancient Incan city nestled high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, has long captivated the world with its awe-inspiring beauty and mysterious origins. Although it is now recognized as one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world, the true story of its discovery remains shrouded in controversy and intrigue. In this article, we delve into the early expeditions, investigate the key figures involved, and explore the alternative theories surrounding the discovery of Machu Picchu.

Early Expeditions to Machu Picchu

Before the modern fascination with Machu Picchu began, several explorers and adventurers ventured into the region in search of hidden treasures and lost civilizations. However, it was not until the early 20th century that the existence of Machu Picchu was brought to the attention of the wider world.

The Controversial Discovery

The credit for the discovery of Machu Picchu is often attributed to American explorer Hiram Bingham III, who stumbled upon the ruins during an expedition in 1911. Bingham’s documentation and subsequent publications brought international attention to Machu Picchu, leading to its recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Investigating Hiram Bingham III

While Hiram Bingham III is widely regarded as the discoverer of Machu Picchu, there are debates about the extent of his role. Some argue that his expedition was more of a rediscovery, as local farmers and indigenous people were aware of the site’s existence. Nevertheless, Bingham’s efforts played a crucial role in bringing Machu Picchu to the world’s attention.

Alternative Theories and Claims

Despite Bingham’s prominence in the story, there are alternative theories and claims regarding the discovery of Machu Picchu. Some researchers propose that earlier explorers, such as Agustín Lizárraga, might have come across the ruins before Bingham. Furthermore, there are suggestions that indigenous communities were well aware of Machu Picchu’s existence long before it was “discovered” by Western explorers.

Unraveling the Mystery: Who Really Discovered Machu Picchu?

The question of who truly discovered Machu Picchu may never have a definitive answer. The complex nature of its history, combined with the limited documentation available, leaves room for speculation and interpretation. Regardless of the exact details, the allure and significance of Machu Picchu cannot be denied.

Exploring the Legacy of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu continues to captivate visitors from around the world, offering a glimpse into the remarkable achievements of the Incan civilization. Its architectural marvels, breathtaking landscapes, and deep cultural significance make it a cherished site for historians, archaeologists, and travelers alike.


While the controversy surrounding the discovery of Machu Picchu persists, there is no denying the profound impact it has had on our understanding of ancient civilizations. Whether it was Hiram Bingham III or earlier explorers, the enigmatic nature of Machu Picchu only adds to its allure and intrigue, making it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking to unravel its mysteries.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How was Machu Picchu discovered?

Machu Picchu was discovered by American explorer Hiram Bingham III during an expedition in 1911.

2. Who is credited with the discovery of Machu Picchu?

Hiram Bingham III is widely credited with the discovery of Machu Picchu, although there are debates about the extent of his role.

3. Were there any previous expeditions to Machu Picchu?

There were claims of earlier expeditions, such as Agustín Lizárraga, who might have come across Machu Picchu before Bingham’s expedition.

4. Are there any alternative theories about the discovery of Machu Picchu?

Yes, there are alternative theories suggesting that indigenous communities or earlier explorers might have been aware of Machu Picchu before it gained international attention.
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