Discover the beautiful city of Machu Picchu
Declared the Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, Machu Picchu is the most famous archeological sight in South America. But what exactly is Machu Picchu? Well, simply put, Machu Picchu is the most spectacular accomplishment of the Incan Empire. It was the peak of an ancient civilization - the center of an almost forgotten world. An entire city hidden between two Andean Peaks at an elevation of 7 000ft above sea level, it was never discovered by the conquering Spanish. It lay silently in its valley for hundreds of years, its whereabouts known only by a handful of local farmers. Its impressive beauty was revealed to the world only when Hiram Bingham, a professor from Yale, stumbled across it in the undergrowth of the valley in 1911.
There are many theories surrounding the anonymity of this city that was so well hidden from the rest of the world. They range from the city being a sacred place unknown to the rest of the Incan world, to it being the secret hiding place of Incan Virgins or Nustas where young unmarried woman were taken and hidden from the covetous eyes of the conquering Spaniards. It is also thought that it could have preceded the Incan Empire. Whatever the case, Machu Picchu is a fascinating display of the incredible capabilities of ancient man. There are temples, fields, baths and terraces which have been intricately carved out of the side of the mountain. There are aqueducts carved into the mountainside as well as homes for farmers and teachers at the floor of the small mountain valley. There is an important religious area on the crest of the hill which overlooks the Urubamba Valley.
Basically the city of Machu Picchu would have been completely self reliant when in use. As you enter through the House of the Terrace Caretakers you will find an impressive number of terraces used for planting crops to sustain the villagers. Beyond the moat that borders this agricultural sector, you will find the city. A chain of 16 small baths - most likely used for religious purposes - creates an interesting waterfall. A little further on the Temple of the Sun houses some of the best preserved stonework in Machu Picchu. Some of the surrounding homes have been somewhat restored to give a feel for how they would have appeared when in use. Besides a number of smaller homes, you will find a Royal Sector, the Temple of Three Windows and the Principle Temple. Exploring the ruins is an incredible experience that will remain forever in one's memory. All in all, Machu Picchu covers 32 592 hectares of land.
Machu Picchu is also surrounded by an incredible wealth of natural beauty. Boasting more than 180 species of orchids amongst other flora, it also has an abundance of animals and birds. These natural gems can be further explored after visiting Machu Picchu if you so wish. Machu Picchu can be reached by air, by train or by foot. A good insect repellent is strongly recommended - especially in the warmer sunny months.