Machu Picchu

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Peru >> Lima >> Attractions >> Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

History

Machu Picchu, set at around 8,000 feet in the Andes Mountains of Peru, is one of the most famous and magnificent sets of ruins in the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site (1983) overlooks the deep canyon of the Urubamba River, about 70 km northwest of Cusco. It has also been listed in the new Seven Wonders of the World and is often referred to as “The Lost City of the Incas”. Discovered by the American Yale professor Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu is one of the best kept secrets of the Inca’s.

It is believed that the place was a sanctuary or a temple inhabited by high priests and the “Virgins of the Sun” as the 135 skeletons found of which 109 identified as females, reveal the same. This fact has allowed historians and archaeologists to believe that Machu Picchu was home to the high priests.

Machu Picchu is divided in 2 areas, the urban sector and the agriculture sector. In the agriculture sector, one can witness a vast network of terraces and channels for irrigation. The urban sector is further divided into the upper and lower, the upper one comprising of many temples, ritual chambers and also the royal bedroom. Many houses for the noblemen and their servants are to be found in the lower area of the urban sector.

In total, Machu Picchu comprises of 140 structures, the primary ones being the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. The Intiwatana or Intihuatana is a solar observatory located on a hill made of several terraces. The observatory that can be reached via 78 well-crafted steps allowed the Incas to keep track of the time of the year. Temple of the Sun is semi-circle shaped and built on solid rock. On the north side there is a carefully sculpted door, in which the historians believe, gold and precious jewels were encrusted. To the West of the temple there is a rectangular patio with nine ceremonial doorways alternating with prism-shaped studs. Temple of the Three Windows is the most impressive architecture in all of Machu Picchu, together with the main temple.

Best time to visit

The best months to visit Machu Picchu are between May and August, since they are the mildest ones. Peru’s rainy season is from December to April, when the weather is warmer and rain showers are common.

Trivia

Huayna Picchu also known as "hitching post of the sun”, is one of the famous mountain images in the world. With a height of 2667 meters above sea level (the largest peak in Machu Picchu), it beautifully rises over Machu Picchu.

Timing

Machu Picchu opens at 6am and stays open until 6pm daily throughout the year. During the rainy month of February, the Inca Trail is closed but this does not mean that Mach Picchu itself is closed. Only this famous four-day hike is unavailable. Tickets to enter Machu Picchu could earlier be bought at the entrance itself. This facility no longer exists at the entrance rather the tickets for the ntry are now available at the Machu Picchu Cultural Centre at Aguas Calientes which opens at 5:15 am each day.


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