Vilcabamba - Last Incan Capital
Do you know anything about Vilcabamba the old? I know you heard about Machu Picchu, Actually whenever we talk about Inca or Peru or Ancient civilization, Machu Picchu comes first. But we hear very little about Vilcabamba, or "Vilcabamba the old" or "Vilcabamba la vieza". Funny thing is that Machu Picchu may not be discovered, if there were no Vilcabamba! Surprised? or Curious?
What is Vilcabamba the old?
At 1530 Manco Inca was made Inca Emperor by Spaniards. Manco was running his emperorship from Cusco. But soon he realized that he was a puppet emperor only. He was looking for chances to revolt. Eventually there was conflict between by Francisco Pizarro and Diego de Almagro, Manco took the chance and captured Cusco and Spaniards has to leave Cusco. But very soon Spaniards captured Cusco. Then Manco left Cusco and found a place called Vitcos. Afterwards Inca emperors shifted from Vitcos to deeper forest, to a place called Vilcabamba the Old. They continued to fight from Vilcabamba the old. But on 1571 finally Tupac Amaru, the last Inca was captured. And at the same time Vilcabamba was destroyed by the Spaniards. In some old Spanish chronicles, this name was mentioned. But there was no detail of this city, since none of the writers saw this city. So the city was lost.In the modern world, at the beginning of 20th century, there was no place called Vilcabamba ( there was one place, but that is not that legendary Vilcabamba). When Hiram Bingham started his expeditions to Peru, his main goal was to find Vilcabamba the Old, not Machu Picchu. Actually there was not any mention of Machu Picchu in Old Spanish Chronicles. There could not be, because Machu Picchu was abandoned before the Spaniards came. So they did not know anything of Machu Picchu. That is why Machu Picchu remained intact and beautiful and eye catching. Anyway I am probably distracted by Machu Picchu ( same was the case with Bingham!). We were talking about Vilcabamba..
Espíritu Pampa- Discovered by Hiram Bingham
As I just said above, Vilcabamba was the goal of Bingham, not Machu Picchu. When he found Machu Picchu, he was confused. He could not figure out what is Machu Picchu. He tried to find out the clues from old maps and Spanish chronicles. At the same time he continued his search for the lost cities. Eventually he found Vitcos. Then on the very next week he reached a very distant location in deep forest. There he found some ruins. That place was called Espiritu Pampa. Espíritu Pampa was actually Vilcabamba the old. But he was so preoccupied with Machu Picchu he could not realized it's importance. Afterwards he mentioned Machu Picchu as Vilcabamba the Old.
Espíritu Pampa - newly discovered
In 1960 Antonio Santander and Gene Savoy first strongly mentioned that Espíritu Pampa is actually Vilcabamba. After that Prof. Edmundo Guillen found some letters in a Museum in Seville , a city of southwest Spain, where Spaniards describes the city of Vilcabamba. Then In 1976 Prof. Edmundo Guillen and Polish explorers Tony Halik and El¿bieta Dzikowska went to the city to find the truth. They compare the letter with the site and became confident that Espíritu Pampa is the actual Vilcabamba the Old.
Afterwards archeologist Vincent Lee and John Hemming worked on this site further more only to confirm the truth. Right now it is well accepted that the lost city was not Machu Picchu , it was Espiritu Pampa.
So you see Vilcabamba the old played the most important role in the discovery of Machu Picchu. Now different tour operators offer tour to Vilcabamba the old. I recommend you to visit Vilcabamba the old, to get the taste of real history.
I remember talking to a person named J. Brown, who just visited Vilcabamaba the old, but did not realize the importance of the place. What he was telling me (what I can recall) is that- this place did not have much ruins, tour operators should not take them to this place and spoiled their time. I narrated the importance of this place and explained him why this place is kind of empty, I told him some details of how Manco II and others fought from this place against the Spaniards. Later on he became happy that the visited Vilcabamba.