This ancient city dates back to the fifteenth century and was built on the order of the first ruler of the Incan empire, known as the Sapa Inca Pachacuti. The city was inhabited for over one hundred years until the Spanish conquered Peru in 1532. The city was then lost for several hundred years and subsequently re-discovered by Western civilization in 1911 when locals showed an American historian named Hiram Bingham the site.
The exact function of the city is uncertain. The city is just five miles square and was inhabited by less than one thousand people. Some archeologists think that the city may have been a kind of country retreat for Incan nobility. Others see the site as a base established as an 'Ilacta' – a settlement from which the Sapa could maintain control over conquered regions. The city may have even fulfilled both functions – this particular Ilacta may have been built to protect the Incan aristocracy. The surrounding mountains and valleys provide natural defense from attack, and the city cannot be seen from the valley below. With natural springs providing water and the surrounding plateaus providing food, the city would have been entirely self-sufficient and well-protected.