Perched high above the Andes in a Southern area of Peru sits a 15th-century citadel built by the ancient Incas. Machu Picchu, roughly translated to Old Mountain, is a truly incredible sight, unrivaled by any other surviving ruins of its time. Viewing the rugged, intensely green mountain tops from such an attitude is in itself remarkable, before even considering the plethora of stone buildings and temples left scattered by the Incas.
Machu Picchu’s construction is said to have occurred sometime between 1450 to 1460 under the rule of Incan leaders Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui and Tùpac Inca Yupanqui. While the exact purpose of this historic Peruvian site remains a mystery, many archeologists theorize that Machu Picchu was built as a royal estate for these leaders.
Life at Machu Picchu could be laborious for the many servants living there, maintaining huge-scale, intelligently constructed farming terraces. Yet, this would have been nothing compared to the exhausting effort to scale the trail which led up to Machu Picchu. Complex traditions, religion and ceremonies were also a way of life at this ancient place. There have even been some who believe human sacrifice played a part here, though little actual evidence of this practice remains.
Sadly, at some point, the great Machu Picchu fell into abandonment. From this came one positive. The site managed to remain extremely well preserved until it became a major scientific discovery in the early 1900s. Incredibly, the sky-high citadel of Machu Picchu remained undiscovered by the invading Spanish, hence avoiding looting and desecration as was the fate for many other historic places in Peru.
Often cloaked by a thick and ominous fog, the skeletons of this former citadel can give off an eerie atmosphere from a long-forgotten and mysterious time. This ancient, abandoned site could so obviously and easily pass for a scene right out of a paranormal horror film, but are there any actual stories of ghosts haunting Machu Picchu?
Ghosts of Machu Picchu
While ‘haunting’ is a popular descriptor for the awe-inspiring Machu Picchu, a surprisingly small amount of ghost stories have been circulated about this mysterious, abandoned city in the clouds. Though the ghost stories about Machu Picchu are less than plentiful or diverse, some do exist.
It has been noted that visitors to the ancient citadel have claimed to sight apparitions within the stone ruins. These have been described as what is thought to be the spirits of ancient Incan priests, dressed in ceremonial garb. Typically, these sightings have been focussed around areas where temples are present. It leaves one to wonder whether ancient spirits may still be present here as intelligent beings, possibly still looking over this spiritually important place. Or, could there be the possibility of strong energies that have become ingrained in the stone, destined to continue to repeat these ancient rituals for years to come.
Some others have described encounters with Incan Spirits while on their way to Machu Picchu, specifically while making camp along the Inca Trail. These encounters are quite similar in nature and typically will manifest with individuals feeling as though they are being strangled during their sleep. Could this truly be the result of dark Inca spirits or possibly a cause of altitude sickness, which often causes sufferers to wake, gasping for breath during the night?
Though there aren’t any incredibly well-known ghost stories surrounding Machu Picchu, it has been used as the setting for a Scooby-Doo book. This will certainly solidify the relationship between Machu Picchu and the paranormal for many years to come!
Visiting Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is open year-round to tourists. Tickets can and must be purchased ahead of time, especially if you intend to hike the Inca trail up to the ruin (allow a few months in advance to purchase for the hike). The trail journey leaves from Cusco, yet it is recommended to spend a few days here before traveling to Machu Picchu even if not taking the trail and traveling by train. This is due to altitude sickness and allows some time to get over the symptoms, which can be quite debilitating.
if you enjoyed this article and are interested in learning about other haunted places in Peru, I highly recommend checking out the Haunted Real Felipe Fortress.
Thanks for reading!