Machu Picchu – An Emperor’s Estate

User Contributed March 17, 2014 No Comments



Lying hidden atop the Andes in the Cusco region of Peru, the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu is one of the most important archaeological sites in South America.


These ruins were once an estate for the emperor Pachacuti
cc-by-sa / Charlesjsharp


Long ago it provided an estate for the emperor Pachacuti. It was built around the year 1450 but was abandoned a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. The Spanish never found the city because of its height of over 7,875 feet above sea level. This height not only shields Machu Picchu from the gazes of those below, but also provides a breathtakingly beautiful view of the surrounding Urubamba Valley, tropical rainforest, and Andes mountains. 


Machu Picchu was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham III, an American historian. Since then, many of its one hundred forty structures have been reconstructed to look more like the originals
photo by Hiram Bingham


While visiting Machu Picchu’s structures, one can marvel at their beauty and precision. The ruins of this ancient Incan city include temples, terraces and residential buildings for the nobility and those serving them. There are stone stairways, storage buildings and a mausoleum, all built with their sun-god in mind, and meticulously cut from blocks of stone that have lasted for centuries. The site is accessible by the ancient Inca Trail that is about a two-day journey by foot.


Another stunning view of the ruins
cc-by-sa / Christophe Meneboeuf


Since Machu Picchu is only about 40 miles away from Cuzco, visitors could participate in many other activities. There are plenty of sightseeing tours including Piasc Market and the city of Cusco. There are adventure tours with horseback riding and zip-lining. Visit the Sacred Valley with a traditional Quechua village and shops that include local craft items. There is also hiking through the tropical Amazon rainforest, or Colca Canyon which is famous for its stunning Andean condors and is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, and many more things to do and see. Local restaurants and eateries feature Peruvian cuisine which is generally spicy, but also includes delicious seafood and fresh vegetables.  


The views surrounding the ruins are breathtaking
photo by Fabricio Guzmán


But before your mind begins to drift elsewhere, remember Machu Picchu, which is now one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, one of the last few well preserved Incan civilization sites on Earth, and the one and only “Lost City of the Incas.”


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