Machu Picchu is one of the most fascinating places in the entire world. Remote, spectacular, haunting, tragic and beautiful are some of the most pertinent adjectives frequently used in attempts to describe and explain the fascination that this ruined city inspires in travelers from all over the globe. If you have never visited, you can still enjoy some special sights of this mysterious wonder with our superb collection of photographs taken at Machu Picchu in recent years. The incredible images you are about to see may even inspire you to make the journey of a lifetime to Peru!
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Machu Picchu is Peru’s most important attraction. In fact, hardly anyone who comes to this part of South America doesn’t visit this incredible place.
Machu Picchu is the most significant and best-preserved remnant of the ancient Incan Empire. The city is situated some 8,000 feet above the ground at Machu Picchu (meaning old peak) Mountain.
Though it was built roughly in 1450 for Emperor Pachacuti, it was deserted a mere 100 years later. When the Spanish came, though, they didn’t plunder the city – because they knew nothing about it.
Over time, the long-forgotten city became obscured by the surrounding vegetation. Then, in 1911, an American explorer and noted historian called Hiram Bingham (think Indiana Jones), came to the site hunting for Incan relics.
Bingham discovered something of tremendous archaeological and historical value, almost as important as Schliemann’s discovery of the ancient city of Troy.
The stone structures you can see at Machu Picchu blend almost seamlessly into the mountainous rock. There was no mortar used in their construction, yet here they stand centuries later, testament to an extraordinary feat of Incan engineering.
It is noted for some remarkable features. The Urubamba river surrounds the city on 3 sides. At the Temple of the Sun, during the summer solstice, the sun shines through a window in an incredible alignment of the boulder within the temple and the mountain peak outside.
There are around 200 individual buildings in this cloud city. They include warehouses, temples, residences and farming buildings.
The city was a regal residence for Incan rulers, a military fort and also a place of sacred, but bloody, worship. So far from supping wine and bread were the Incans that they actually practiced ritual human sacrifice in order to bind their community together on religious occasions.
You can also make out some 700 stone terraces lying on the slopes. Some were used to fight erosion, some to keep water supplies, some to grow crops.
The Incas and their rivals did not have any literature, so we actually know very little about them and their amazing city. Most of what we can learn comes from initial accounts of the Spanish conquistadors and from the important archaeology that led to the discovery of Machu Picchu in the first place. There remains much for us to learn.
The traditional route requires a tough pilgrimage-like trek on the Inca Trail, and this can take days to complete. Otherwise you can take a train and a bus, which will get you very close to your goal.