Perhaps the most significant construction of the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu has captured the world’s attention since Hiram Bingham made it known to the outside world in 1911. Located at the meeting point of the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon Basin, the sanctuary is a masterpiece of jungle-coated soaring mountains, with Machu Picchu clinging to the peak at its center.
The site is made up of 200 structures, including plazas, temples, homes, and more than 700 agricultural terraces. As the Incas left behind no written records, archaeologists can only venture guesses as to what purpose Machu Picchu served for the Empire, ranging from a ceremonial center or military fortress to an isolated retreat for the ruling elites.
One thing is for sure, Machu Picchu’s location is no accident. The vast Inca road system, a UNESCO site known as the Qhapaq Ñan, had many roads and trails leading directly to the citadel, while its position on a mountaintop was perfectly suited to align with very specific astrological events, including the solstice sunset. Machu Picchu continues to hold many mysteries for scholars, archaeologists, and architects alike.
When Machu Picchu was constructed around the year 1450, there was no iron or steel and the invention of the wheel was not yet known to the New World. Yet, to this day, the massive stones that make up Machu Picchu’s 200 structures, perfectly carved and mortar-less, remain steadfastly intact on their mountaintop perch, blending seamlessly into their tropical Andean surroundings. For this, among several other reasons, UNESCO declared the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site in 1983, a testament to the Inca civilization’s mastery of art, urbanism, architecture, and engineering.
However, the Machu Picchu World Heritage Site is more than simply perfectly laid Incan stonework and engineering. The site’s location at the transition zone between the High Andes and the Amazon Basin means the Sanctuary is home to a variety of microclimates, habitats, and species of flora and fauna. During your visit to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, you may spot many varieties of orchids or catch a glimpse of the famed Cock-of-the-Rock, or even watch an Andean lizard or two scurry across the stone trails and ruins.
Today, there are a variety of ways to access the Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, including multi-day treks on ancient Inca trails and scenic train journeys along the rushing Urubamba River. However you decide to visit Machu Picchu, a Kuoda Travel Designer is here for you every step of the way. Contact us today to begin planning your visit to Machu Picchu.