Machu Picchu

by Cristina  

machu picchu panorama“The Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu, is the most familiar symbol of the Inca Empire. In 1983 it was declared a UNESCO Heritage Site and is also considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Location and how to get to Machu Picchu

The pre-Columbian Inca site of Machu Picchu (literally meaning “Old Mountain”) is located at 2,400 m 7,875ft above the sea level, overlooking the Urubamba Valley in Peru. It stands at 80km/50miles northwest of Cusco .

It can be easily reached via Inca Trail. If hiking is not your cup of tea, then you can take the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes. From here, the bus will take you all the way to the site. Or you can do a 8 km hike ( 1 ½ h -2 h of walking) to get to the ruins.

Want tips on hiking to Machu Picchu on the Classic Inca Trail? Check out this article and explore these 5 trips we offer.

Opening hours and ticket prices

Tickets can be bought online here . Currently the fee is 128 Soles / US$47.60 for an adult . The site is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. You can visit it in the evening but only via a travel agency which organizes such tours.

Should you want to hike to Wayna Picchu- from where there’s an incredible site of Machu Picchu –get up early as you can start the hike only until 1 p.m.

History

The citadel was built around 1450 but it was abandoned at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire (early 16th century). It remained forgotten until in 1911, Hiram Bingham, an American historian rediscovered the site and brought it to the world’s attention. Ever since, the citadel has been a magnet for tourists all over the world.

Although the citadel was located really close to the Inca capital of Cusco, the Spanish never found it and hence didn’t plunder it.

Architecture

The Inca classical style used polished dry-stone walls of regular shape. The Incas mastered this technique although they never used the wheel in a practical manner.

The historical site comprises 140 constructions which include temples, parks, sanctuaries, residences and water fountains. There are more than one hundred flights of steps.

The most important buildings are: the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows.

The site also contains Intihuatana Stone, one of the many ritual stones in South America. It’s said that if you’re a sensitive person and you rub your forehead against the stone you will see the spirit world. It is believed to have been built as an astronomic clock. Both at midday on March 21st and September 21st the sun stands right above the pillar creating no shadow at all.

Wayna Picchu stands across from Machu Picchu and above the citadel. It’s filled with archeological sites and it’s believed to have been built for ritual purposes. The site closes at 3 PM and you need a special permit to climb on top of this pyramidal mountain.

Best time to visit and other info

The best time to visit Machu Picchu is between April and October. It is most crowded between June and August, as the period coincides with the summer vacations in Europe and North America and everyone seems to want to get here at the same time. Be prepared for rain and don’t forget the sunscreen. Bring bottled water and a mosquito repellant. Be prepared for cold weather and always bring comfortable boots.

>>read more about Weather in Peru

At the entrance to the site there are a restaurant and a café but they have basic things on offer and are overpriced. Likewise, the only hotel within Machu Picchu itself is very expensive. Your best bet is to stay in Aguas Calientes for a night if you want to hike to the site from here, or arrange for accommodation in Cusco.

>>Check out Tours in Machu Picchu and all Peru.

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