The Incan city of Machu Picchu was discovered for the modern world a century ago by Hiram Bingham, and it is Peru’s greatest archeological treasure and one of the most exhilarating experiences we can recommend.
Located in the midst of grand upper jungles that are filled with birds and colorful flowers, this great Incan legacy is the country’s main tourist destination and a real lesson in Pre-Hispanic and natural history. It is here – in a montane forest – that you can grasp the true grandeur of Peruvian civilization that for more than 10,000 years prospered until reaching extremely high levels of cultural development.
In Machu Picchu, you will be able to understand the Andean world view, that inherent connection among man, mountain, and forest that led him to revere stone and water and also allowed him to build this magnificent sanctuary among the clouds.
It is believed that the city was built around the second half of the 15th century during the reign of Pachacutec and at the peak of the Incan Empire (Tahuantinsuyo, in Quechua). In spite of all the studies, Machu Picchu’s real purpose remains a mystery, yet there is no lack of theories: a ranch for the emperor, an agricultural laboratory, a fortress against the Antis (people from the jungle), an observatory, or a temple for the chosen women (Acllas).
In 1911, Hiram Bingham – guided by the farmer Melchor Arteaga – climbed the mountain to Machu Picchu and later published his find to the world, christening it the Lost City of the Incas. During the next three years, Bingham led the Yale University and National Geographic Society-funded expedition that excavated the area and found different items: bones, pottery, and metal artifacts.
After development efforts culminated in 1981, Machu Picchu was elevated to a Historical Sanctuary, which guaranteed its protection and the conservation of the region’s ecosystems. Two years later, UNESCO declared it a World Cultural Heritage site. Today, it is Peru’s main tourist and cultural destination. Recently (July 2007), Machu Picchu was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World by the private initiative New Open World Corporation.