Built by the Incas in about 1450...at the height of the Inca Empire...it was abandoned during the Spanish conquest about one hundred years later. And so it remained...a city hidden to the the rest of the world until an American historian discovered it in 1911. Now it is the largest tourist attraction in South America.
Machu Picchu is located about 8,000 feet above sea level...on a mountain ridge high above Sacred Valley and the Urubamba River...about 80 kilometers northwest of Cusco.
It is quite possible (and popular) to hike to Machu Picchu along the Inca trail...about four days of trekking. We went the easy way...via train and then bus.
We arrived to find the ancient city shrouded in clouds...appropriate for a place known as 'the lost city'!
As you can see...we weren't the only ones at Machu Picchu on that particular day.
Since our visit fell during the rainy season...the crowds weren't bad. Because it has become such a popular destination...they now allow no more than 2500 people per day onto the site.
We entered through the main gate...trapezoidal Inca style.
The Temple of the Sun...used for ceremonial purposes.
The pyramid holding the Intihuatana...a sacred stone to the Inca peoples.
The terraces were used for agricultural purposes...and crops were grown right to the top of the mountain.
The llamas seemed oblivious to the tourists...
...and wandered freely. I will spare you the photos of the all the buildings, gates, sacred plazas and temples...since I have already forgotten the names and significance of most. But trust me...it's quite amazing that these structures were built so long ago of huge granite rocks...seemingly to heavy to be moved without machines.
By mid-afternoon...most of our group felt they had done enough stair climbing and called it a day. A few of us went back to hike the Inca trail to the drawbridge. It was perfect! The clouds and drizzle were gone...as were the morning crowds. The sun came out.
The Inca drawbridge lies beyond the top terraces...along the trail that hugs the sides of the cliff.
We shared the trail with the llamas.
It was a wonderful experience...exploring this incredible site. Though the Incas had no written language...they left behind this creative masterpiece of stone. How did they do it? No one really knows.
I'll be back...with more of Peru. Sometime soon!
Thanks for stopping by...