- One of the “New 7 World Wonders”
- Discovered by Hiram Bingham on July 24, 1911
- Can be reached by hiking and by train
- Located on 2400 meters above sea level
- Located on the border between the highlands and the jungle, called cloud forest
- Located in a National Park with the same name
- The National Park is also known for its large number of hummingbirds and orchids
Machu Picchu; the enigmatic site of Machu Picchu is one of the biggest tourist attractions in South America and a marvel to see. The site, nicknamed the Lost City of the Incas is located at 100Km north east of Cusco and for many years unknown to mankind. It was American adventurer Hiram Bingham who had the honor to expose Machu Picchu to the world in 1911. There are several accounts of people, even foreigners, having stumbled across this amazing site in earlier years, but it was Hiram Bingham who first saw the true magnitude of the site and who started with clearing and mapping the site.
The site was probably built under the rule of Pachacutec, one of the great Inca Rulers responsible for many buildings and expansion of the Inca Empire. The reason for the site to have been built is still under discussion and as there are a large number of hypothesis, it may as well be that we will never know the true reason. Hypothesis goes from being a summer palace for the Inca Royalty to a luxury prison for preferential Inca prisoners and every possibility in between. The site was probably abandoned when the Spanish arrived together with the retreat of the Inca further into the jungle. But just as the reasons for the construction of the site, the abandoning of the site is also a mystery. One thing is sure; the Spanish never reached the amazing site of Machu Picchu, making it an even more important found in understanding the Inca.
The site is constructed in the saddle of 2 mountains that border Machu Picchu from both sides. The mountain on the South side is called Machu Picchu Mountain (Old Peak) and the mountain on the North side is called Huayna Picchu (Young Mountain). The site itself is made up out of different sectors. The main sectors are the Agricultural sector and the Urban sector. The agricultural sector has been divided into the Upper and Lower Sectors meanwhile the Urban Sector has been divided into different parts; The Popular District, the Sacred District and the district for the Priests and Nobility. It is in the Urban Sector where you can find the primary archaeological treasures: the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows.
When visiting Machu Picchu, make sure that you have the chance to see the site from one of the higher points as this will give you a good impression of the sheer size of this site and provide you with great photo opportunities. As the number of people allowed climbing Huayna Picchu has been limited to 400 people daily in two early morning groups, it may be possible that you do not get the chance to climb Huayna Picchu. Nevertheless there is a great alternative with less people and even higher viewing points on the other side of the site; Machu Picchu Mountain. This mountain can be climbed when heading to the south side of Machu Picchu and takes about 2 hours to climb. The climb is less steep than the Huayna Picchu one and the views from here on Machu Picchu at least as rewarding.
In any case spending time on Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience and few sites in the world will provoke more awe than this amazing construction built on an impossible place.
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