Machu Picchu is an extraordinary ancient stone city along the Inca Trail in Peru and forms one of the most famous historical sites in the world.
Believed to have been constructed by the Inca Yupanqui people sometime during the mid-fifteenth century, the ruins of Machu Picchu sit high atop a granite mountain. The high standard of engineering and construction employed by the Incas, such as the fact that each stone on the site fits together seamlessly, accounts for Machu Picchu’s incredible state of preservation.
Machu Picchu was actually only discovered in 1911 by an American historian and much of its history remains a mystery. Past speculation has included theories such as that Machu Picchu was a mostly female city and that it was built as a last attempt by the Incas to preserve their culture. The former of these theories was due to the fact that, of the hundred skeletons found in Machu Picchu’s fifty burial sites, 80% were initially believed to be female, although this has since been disproven.
Machu Picchu is thought to have had a population of at least five hundred thousand people and, with its incredibly ornate stonework and architecture, is widely considered to have been an important ceremonial site. Some of Machu Picchu’s most impressive structures include the semi-circular Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Three Windows, the mausoleum and the upper cemetery.
Machu Picchu’s agricultural section, with its terraces and granaries, is also an important aspect of the site demonstrating the advanced agricultural methods employed by the Inca people. The main Machu Picchu city is surrounded by other sites forming the Inca Trail and some of which take some serious hiking, but are well worth it. It’s also a good idea to stop at the Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón at the base of the mountain. This site features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Peru.
From Cuzco, you can reach Machu Picchu via the PeruRail train to Aguas Calientes station from which several tourist buses operate. You can walk from here but it is an extremely steep 8km hike.
Admission costs 124 soles or 61 soles for students with ISIC.
Machu Picchu, Southern Sierra, Peru
Contact local tourist office
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