In the variety of its charms and the power of its spell, I know of no place in the world which can compare with it. Not only has it great snow peaks looming above the clouds more than two miles overhead, gigantic precipices of many-colored granite rising sheer for thousands of feet above the foaming, glistening, roaring rapids; it has also, in striking contrast, orchids and tree ferns, the delectable beauty of luxurious vegetation, and the mysterious witchery of the jungle."
Hiram Bingham on Machu Picchu
ince Machu Picchu
discovery on July 24, 1911, by north american Hiram Bingham, it has been considered oneof the world's greatest architectural and archaeological monuments, due to its extraordinary magnificence and harmonious structure.
At 2,400 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l), in the province of Urubamba, department of Cusco, Machu Picchu
surprises us because of the way its stone constructions are spread over a narrow and uneven mountain top, bordering a sheer 400 meter cliff side of the Urubamba River canyon.
is a citadel shrouded in mystery, and to this day archaeologists have not uncovered the history andpurpose of this city of stone. The site has an area of about one square kilometer, and stands in a region that the Incas considered to be magical, due to the meeting of the Andes mountains with the mighty Amazon river.
Perhaps, Machu Picchu
mystery may never be fully explained as, so far, there are only hypothesis and conjectures. For some, it may have been an advance settlement for planned further expansions by the Incas. Others believe Machu Picchu
have been a monastery where young girls (acllas) were trained to serve the Inca and the Willac Uno (HIgh Priest). Support for this theory comes from the fact that of the 135 bodies discovered while exploring the site, 109 were female.
The surprising perfection and beauty of Machu Picchu
's walls, built by joining stone to stone without using any cement or adhesive whatsoever, has led to many myths developing around how the city was constructed
It is said that a bird by the name of Kak'aqllu knew the formula for softening rock but by command, perhaps, of the ancient Inca gods, had its tongue torn out. It is also said that there was a magic plant which could dissolve and compress stone.
Nonetheless, mysteries and myths aside, the real attractiveness of Machu Picchu
, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, lies in its squares, aqueducts and watchtowers, its observatories and in its sun clock, evidence of the wisdom and skill of the city's Andean builders.
ATTRACTIONS IN MACHU PICCHU
was left speechless" wrote Hiram Bingham, about the moment he discovered the ancient citadel, and since then thousands of visitors on seeing Machu Picchu
for the first time have reacted in the same way. Machu Picchu
is an indispensable place to visit for everybody who gets to Cusco, and on seeing it, you, like the famous North American archaeologist, will be left speechless and won't want to leave.
The Citadel of Machu Picchu:
has two sectors; an agricultural sector and an urban sector. The agricultural sector consists of stepped terraces for cultivation (andenes) built on the slopes of surrounding mountains
The urban sector is "U" shaped and has two immense architectural groups with streets and stairwells that consist of a total of 3,000 steps, as well as a network of water canals suitable for domestic and irrigation use, interspersed with small squares and courtyards.
The constructions in Machu Picchu
have rectangular floor spaces. Many of the enclosures, called masmas, have only three walls, which at one time were all thatched with tree trunks and ichu (straw).
Doors and windows are encased in trapezoid shapes as are
the niches in the walls where idols and other objects were placed; a typical feature of Inca architecture.
Each wall in Machu Picchu
is different; even those that share the same enclosure have different styles. The best finished wall is the main wall of the Templo Principal (Main Temple), where the cut and polished stones are flawlessly fitted together.
Worthy of attention too are the Intihuatana, a sundial made out of polished stone; the Torreón (Watchtower), a building with curved walls, and the Templo de las Tres Ventanas (Temple of the Three Windows).
ue to its special location in a region of Peru where the Andes and the Amazon meet, the 32,592 hectares surrounding the citadel have been declared a protected area in order to preserve the flora, fauna and geological formations, as well as the archeological remains
The Machu Picchu Sanctuary
is a priceless example of Andean archeology and culture, combined with a spectacular natural environment home to species of fauna and flora unknown elsewhere in the world.
Apart from Machu Picchu
itself, there are 34 other archeological groups in the Sanctuary
, which are interconnected by the ancient Inca Trail, an impressive original Inca route, which nowadays is open to tourists.
Notable amongst these sites are the Inca constructions of Runquracay, the ruins of Sacyamarca (similar to Machu Picchu), the citadel of Phuyupatamarca ("Town above the Clouds"), the ruins of Wiñay Wayna ("Eternally Young"), the Temple of the Moon and the archeological group known as the Gran Caverna ("Great Cavern").
The flora of Machu Picchu
is exuberant, and in higher areas different species of high-Andean grains are found. In the low areas, trees such as the "aliso" Alnus jorullensis, "nogal" Juglans neotropica, "intimpa" Podocarpus glomeratus, "Kisuar" Buddleja incana may be found. There are also 30 genus and over 90 species of orchids.
Among the fauna of Machu Picchu
we can find birds such as the "condor" (Vultur gryphus) and diverse species of hummingbirds, and mammals such as pumas (Felis concolor), the "tigrillo" (Felis pardalis) as well as a few species of monkeys and ophidians of the Bothrops species. There are species in danger of extinction in the Sanctuary
as well, such as the "rock hen" ("gallito de las rocas"), the "spectacled bear" ("oso de anteojos"), the otter and the mountain cat.
HOTEL AND LODGING IN MACHU PICCHU
s tourists have access to hotel facilities in Cusco city, a one-day visit to Machu Picchu
is feasible. However, if the visitor wishes to stay overnight, the small town of Aguas Calientes, about 8 kilometers from Machu Picchu
, has a good number of small hotels, hostels
, and restaurants as well as standard facilities such as a police station, electricity, water supply and telephones.
For those taking the Inca Trail, there is a lodge very close to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna which has terraces and comfortable rooms.
If you count with higher budget and you want a special place where spend the night, consult about the Machu Picchu
Sanctuary Lodge, located close to the Citadel.
RESTAURANTS IN MACHU PICCHU
n Aguas Calientes, the small town situated near down Machu Picchu
, there are several restaurants
and hotels which offer you a varied carte du jour with the most delicious dishes of Cusco and the best of the international food.
In Machu Picchu
top, located in a privileged site with a spectacular view on the citadel of Machu Picchu
, you will find Machu Picchu
Sanctuary Lodge restaurants
offering you an exquisite menu of Peruvian and International food.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE IN MACHU PICCHU
rom June to October the mornings are warm with brilliant sunshine, though it can get quite cool in the shade. At night temperatures can drop to 10ºC.
From from December to April showers and downpours are common, followed by bright, intense sunshine.
We recommend to take a raincoat or umbrella to protect yourself from the rain.
WHEN TO GO TO MACHU PICCHU
The ideal months for visiting Machu Picchu are from June to October as the weather is mild during this time of the year.
TRANSPORTATION IN MACHU PICCHU
Peru Rail (ex-ENAFER, the National Railroad Company) offers a variety of services to Machu Picchu
, from San Pedro Station, in Cusco, to Aguas Calientes.
MACHU PICCHU MAP