Machu Picchu

Ruins of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a citadel shrouded in mystery, and to this day archaeologists have not uncovered the history andpurpose of this city of stone and it is among the greatest tourist attractions in South America today and ranks among the most outstanding symbols in the Andean cultures.

The archaeological complex is located in the department of Cusco, in the Urubamba province and district of Machupicchu. It is perched on the eastern slopes of the Vilcanota mountain range, a chain of mountains curtailed by the Apurimac and Urubamba Rivers. At latitude 13º7' South and longitude 72035' West of the Greenwich Meridian, Machupicchu is located at a height of 2,350 meters above sea level.

Machu Picchu was introduced to the scientific world by Hiram Bingham, are one of the most beautiful and enigmatic ancient sites in the world. While the Inca people certainly used the Andean mountain top (9060 feet elevation), erecting many hundreds of stone structures from the early 1400's, legends and myths indicate that Machu Picchu (meaning 'Old Peak' in the Quechua language) was revered as a sacred place from a far earlier time.

The origin of the ruins is attributed, with a certain degree of authority to Pachacutec, a warlike leader, noted for both territorial conquests and the development of religion and spirituality. This is why present archaeological researchers tend to support the theory that it was a royal hacienda destined for the worship of the Inca's gods, as well as a mighty challenge to the monarch's construction skills.

The well preserved ruins of Machu Picchu seem to almost cling to the steep hillside, surrounded by towering green mountains overlooking the Vilcanota River Valley.

Machu Picchu has all thirty two architectural complexes of differing sizes and characteristics indicating the various functions they fulfilled. Patallaqta, Runkurakay, Sayaqmarka, Q'onchamarka, Phuyupatamarca, Wiñaywayna, Intipata and Intipunku are other settlements located nearby. All of them are closely interrelated as regards building style, types of buildings and basic arrangements, including the remarkable agricultural terraces, quarries for supplying raw materials and springs of abundant, clean water. What is more, all of them have in common the characteristic harmony between natural and human-made features.

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.

The Machu Picchu historic sanctuary, and particularly the forests that line both banks of the Urubamba River, below the citadel of Machu Picchu itself, are home to the habitats of an enormous variety of bird species, calculated at more than 400, such as the cock-of-the-rocks (Rupicola Peruviana), considered Peru's national bird. The area also features brightly-colored orchids and tree-born ferns, considered treasures of the sanctuary.

The ruins is home to some striking species, such as the cock-of-the-rocks (Peru's national bird) and the spectacled bear, the only bear species in South America. The area is also inhabited by the rare dwarf deer called sachacabra and the Huemal deer, plus more than 300 bird species. The area boasts a large variety of flora species, with some 200 species of orchids registered here to date.

Machu Picchu is an architectural jewel. The Beauty and Mystery of it's walled ruins, once palaces of the finest Inca stone work, are augmented even more by the lush, almost virginal landscape of the surroundings. Green jungle flora suffuses the abrupt topography. Orchids add a strange brilliance.


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