Machu Picchu is a pre-Spanish, Inca civilization site located almost 8,000 feet above sea level. The site is located on a mountain ridge above the valley of Urubamba in Peru. The city is also called the “City of the Incas”. Machu Picchu is perhaps the most well known places affiliated with the Inca civilization.
Machu Picchu was built around 1450 for the Inca emperor Pachacuti, but was abandoned only 100 years later with the arrival of the Spanish. Although the city was known by the local inhabitants, it was not given global attention until 1911, when the American historian, Hiram Bingham, announced its presence to the scholar community. During his ensuing excavation, hundreds of artifacts were taken from the ruins and sent to Yale University of study. Recent discoveries also show that the site may have been visited by various other foreigners before Bingham, at which point even more artifacts were taken. The site was labeled as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983.
Traveling to Machu Picchu
The site as built in typical Inca style with dry stone polished walls and its most famous buildings are “The Temple of Sun” and “The Room of Three Windows.” It is located 80 kilometers northwest of Cusco and sits between two mountains. From Cusco, a train to Aguas Calientes, and then a bus ride up to the mountain will take you to actual site.
Machu Picchu is one of the top archeological sites in the world. It is also one of Peru’s most popular and lucrative tourist sites, bringing in 400,000 foreigners in 2000. With the number of tourists growing each year, preservation of the site has become a huge concern, with UNESCO considering adding it to their list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. In an effort to reduce traffic related damage, various restrictions have been placed on the number of people admitted to the site each day.