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Machu Picchu

Country
Peru
State
Peru (General)
City
Andes
Type of Location
Mountain
About Location

 Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site located 2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level.It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometres (50 mi) northwest of Cusco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Often referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas", it is perhaps the most familiar icon of the Inca World.

    The Incas started building the "estate" around AD 1400 but abandoned it as an official site for the Inca rulers a century later at the time of the Spanish Conquest. Although known locally, it was unknown to the outside world before being brought to international attention in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an important tourist attraction.

 Since the site was never known to the Spanish during their conquest, it is highly significant as a relatively intact cultural site. Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.



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How to Reach

By Air

The nearest major airport to Aguascalientes, Mexico is Lic. Jesús Terán Peredo International Airport (AGU / MMAS). This airport is about 20 km from the center of Aguascalientes, Mexico.
 

By Bus

From Aguas Calientes frequent buses leave to the ruins (US$8 each way, US$ 15.50 round-trip) starting at 5:30am. There's often a queue, so if you're intent on being on the first bus up, you should arrive at least 90 minutes early. The journey takes around 1/2 hour to slowly wind around the switchbacks and up to the park.


By Foot


Hiking the Inca Trail is a great way to arrive as you first see the city through the Sun Gate (instead of arriving from below as you do from Aguas Calientes). Both the four-day and two-day hikes are controlled by the government. Travelers should be fit enough to walk for days and sleep in tents.

From Aguas Calientes it is also possible to walk along a similar 8 km route that the buses run, which will take about 1-2 hours up, and around an hour back down. This route is mainly stairs, connecting the switchbacks that the buses take. It is a strenuous and long hike but is very rewarding, recommended to start around 4 a.m. to make it to the top before sunrise. The descent is fairly easy, just take care when the steps are wet. Keep alert for the bus drivers that rarely brake for pedestrians.

Key places to visit
Sun Gate, Temple of the Sun, Intihuatana, Temple of the Condor


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Places to Visit

Sun Gate

Sun Gate (Inti Punku)  if you've just arrived via the Inka Trail, this will be your first experience of the ruins. Others can backtrack from the ruins along the trail and up the hill. From here you can see back down each valley offering excellent views. It's a fairly strenuous hike (probably 1-1.5 hours each way) but well worth it. If you catch the first bus from Aguas Calientes and head straight here you may be able to reach it in time for sun to peak over the mountain and through the gate.


Temple of the Sun


Temple of the Sun  Near the summit of the main city, the stonework on the temple is incredible. Look closely and you will see that there are a variety of stone walls throughout the city. Most are rough stones held together with mud, the common stone walls found throughout the world. But many buildings or parts of buildings are done with the more distinctive and impressive closely-fit stonework. The temple is the absolute pinnacle of this technology. Observe it from the side, descending the stone staircase in the main plaza.



Intihuatana


Intihuatana  A stone carved so that on certain days, at dawn, the sun makes a certain shadow, thus working as a sun dial. From Quechua: Inti = sun, huatana = to take, grab: thus grabing (measuring) the sun. (pronounce 'intiwatana')

Temple of the Condor

Temple of the Condor The tour guides will try to tell you that this was a temple, but look closely: between the wings of the condor is a chamber with grooves cut in the stone to secure manacles, a walkway behind where a torturer may walk to whip the prisoner's backs, and a scary looking pit to let the blood of prisoners drain. Clearly the condor was a symbol of cruel justice, but a sanitized version is told for the benefit of middle-aged tourists and their children.

 

Right Time to Visit

April - October

Temperature

Information not available


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