Machu Picchu: an overview

7,000 feet above sea level and nestled on a small hilltop between the Andean Mountain Range, the majestic city soars above the Urabamba Valley below. The Incan built structure has been deemed the “Lost Cities”, unknown until its relatively recent discovery in 1911.

Archaeologists estimate that approximately 1200 people could have lived in the area, though many theorize it was most likely a retreat for Incan rulers. Due to it’s isolation from the rest of Peru, living in the area full time would require traveling great distances just to reach the nearest village.
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Ernesto “Che” Guevara talking about Machu Picchu

“A pure expression of the most powerful indigenous race in the Americas.” – Ernesto “Che” Guevara

Many people name the sacred power that some archeologic sites carry. For people who understand, you’d know I originate from Peru and people UN agency understand American state additional intimately would understand that i used to be born in Cuzco, Peru.
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Machu Picchu places: Sacred stone

Across the Central Plaza and at the far end of Machu Picchu is the Sacred Rock, an object common to most every Inca village. Before a village could be erected, a sacred stone must be dedicated to the site. The Sacred Stone of Machu Picchu sits at the base of Huayna Picchu (little peak), from where you can take a one-hour climb to the top for another excellent view of the entire valley. Hikers can sign in at the Gatekeeper’s shack as proof they tackled the steep climb up Huayna Picchu.
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Machu Picchu may have been the end of a pilgrimage.

A new theory proposed by the Italian archaeoastronomer Giulio Magli suggests that the journey to Machu Picchu from Cusco could have served a ceremonial purpose: echoing the celestial journey that, according to legend, the first Inca took when they departed the Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca.

Rather than simply following a more sensible path along the banks of the Urubamba River, the Inca built the impractical but visually stunning Inca Trail, which according to Magli, prepared pilgrims for entry into Machu Picchu.
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It has a great sense of direction.

From the moment Hiram Bingham staggered up to Machu Picchu in 1911, visitors have understood that the ruins’ natural setting is as important to the site as the buildings themselves. Recent research has shown that the site’s location, and the orientation of its most important structures, was strongly influenced by the location of nearby holy mountains, or apus.

An arrow-shaped stone atop the peak of Huayna Picchu appears to point due south, directly through the famous Intihuatana Stone, to Mount Salcantay, one of the most revered apus in Inca cosmology. On important days of the Inca calendar, the sun can be seen to rise or set behind other significant peaks.


In Machu Picchu there’s more than one peak to climb.

Long before dawn, visitors eagerly queue up outside the bus depot in Aguas Calientes, hoping to be one of the first persons to enter the site. Why? Because only the first 400 people who sign in are eligible to climb Huayna Picchu (the small green peak, shaped like a rhino horn, that appears in the background of many photos of Machu Picchu.)
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There are still things to be found in Machu Picchu

Should you wander away from the central ruins at Machu Picchu, you’ll notice that occasionally side paths branch off into the thick foliage. Where do they go? Who knows. Because the cloud forest grows over quickly in the area surrounding Machu Picchu, there may be unknown trails and ruins yet to be found nearby.

Several newly refurbished sets of terraces are being made available to the public for the first time this summer.
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In Machu Picchu there’s a great, hidden museum that no one goes to.

For visitors conditioned to the explanatory signs at national parks, one of the strangest things about Machu Picchu is that the site provides virtually no information about the ruins. (This lack does have one advantage—the ruins remain uncluttered.)

The excellent Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón ($8 entry) fills in many of the blanks about how and why Machu Picchu was built (displays are in English and Spanish), and why the Inca chose such an extraordinary natural location for the citadel. First you have to find the museum, though.
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You can walk up to the ruins in Machu Picchu.

A trip to Machu Picchu is many things, but cheap is not one of them. Train tickets from Cusco can run more than a hundred dollars each, and the entry fees are an additional $43. In between, a round-trip bus trip up and down the 2,000-feet-high slope atop which the Inca ruins are located costs another $14. Machu Picchu climb If you don’t mind a workout, however, you can walk up and down for free. The steep path roughly follows Hiram Bingham’s 1911 route and offers extraordinary views of the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, which looks almost as it did in Bingham’s time. The climb is strenuous and takes about 90 minutes.
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Much of the most impressive stuff is invisible.

While the Inca are best remembered for their beautiful walls, their civil engineering projects were incredibly advanced as well. (Especially, as is often noted, for a culture that used no draft animals, iron tools, or wheels.) The site we see today had to be sculpted out of a notch between two small peaks by moving stone and earth to create a relatively flat space.

The engineer Kenneth Wright has estimated that 60 percent of the construction done at Machu Picchu was underground. Much of that consists of deep building foundations and crushed rock used as drainage. (As anyone who’s visited in the wet season can tell you, Machu Picchu receives a lot of rain.)