South America Travel

Overview of Machu Picchu

The main view of unmatched Machu Picchu First discovered in 1911, this ancient lost city is one of the most alluring spots in South America, drawing thousands of visitors every year. Machu Picchu is located in the Rio Urubamba Region, known to the Incas as the Sacred Valley, and is connected by the Inca Trail, the same road that the Incas used when they reigned the land. What makes these ruins so unique and such an amazing discovery is that they were one of the few sites that were not destroyed by the Spanish conquests.

Just two hours from Puyapatamarka, 44 miles northwest of Cusco, and at an altitude of nearly 8,000 feet lay the fabled city of Machu Picchu. This sprawling ancient city is made up of 140 constructions including temples, sanctuaries, parks, and houses. The entrance to this sprawling ancient city is through the House of the Terrace Caretakers, which was most likely used for agricultural purposes and provided crops for the city. Continuing straight ahead you'll find the Fountains, which are made up of small waterfalls in a chain of 16 ceremonial baths. Amazingly, the hotel still uses this spring water.

The Main Fountain has the finest stonework, with complicated and masterful construction done by a civilization the Spanish Conquistadors thought of as barbaric. Nearby is the famous Temple of the Sun, the centerpiece of the city. With its round, tapering tower reaching for the sun, the temple has some of the most perfect stonework found in Machu Picchu. The base of the temple was constructed from a great rock that forms a grotto called the Royal Tomb, although remains have yet to be found.

An ancient Inca house in Machu Picchu The Incas were master architects. All of the construction is the classical Inca style of dry-stone walls of regular shape. Called ashlar, this technique allows the blocks of stone to be cut to fit together tightly without the use of mortar. Many places were built with such precision that a knife can't even fit through. How they constructed such palaces without the use of the wheel is still largely a mystery, but the general theory is that they used hundreds of manpower to heave the stones up inclined planes.

The Inca civilization is an amazing gift that lies before travelers and explorers in a remote and mystical setting of ancient cloud forests, jagged cliffs and rolling mountains. Even after thousands of years, this ancient city is still completely intact, leaving behind a legacy of wonder for the modern world to experience.

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Machu Picchu Travel Guide:
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