Machu Picchu is a 15th-century Inca citadel, located in the Eastern Cordillera of southern Peru, on a 7,970 foot mountain ridge and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Often mistakenly referred to as the “Lost City of the Incas”, it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. It was declared a Peruvian Historic Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The site is roughly divided into an urban sector and an agricultural sector, and into an upper town and a lower town. The temples are in the upper town, the warehouses in the lower. Approximately 200 buildings are arranged on wide parallel terraces around an east–west central square. Since its discovery by history professor, Hiram Bingham, in 1911, growing numbers of tourists have visited the site each year.
The Journey to Machu Picchu
The most common point to begin your journey to Machu Picchu is Cusco and you can find accommodations for all budgets. Visiting Machu Picchu is a very popular activity for local and international travelers, so plan accordingly and perhaps visit during the low season to avoid crowds. Proceeding from Cusco to Machu Picchu, you can hike the timeworn Inca Trail or board a scenic train trip to the town of Aguas Calientes. The train travels along the Urubamba River with panoramic views of the Sacred Valley and has exclusive, luxurious, or classic options for passenger seating. Arriving in Aguas Calientes, the town is located at the base of Machu Picchu, which is surrounded by tall granite cliffs and a cloud forest inhabited by orchids and hummingbirds. A short bus ride delivers you to the main entrance of Machu Picchu and from there a hike of between an hour to an hour and a half is required to ascend to the complex.