machu-pichu Photos

MACHU PICHU is a UNESCO world heritage site.

One of the most spectacular places in the world, Machu Pichu is on the east side of the Andes, at 2,430 m, above the Urubamba river, in the midst of the mountain jungle. Invisible from underneath and framed naturally by an extraordinary scenery, this remarkable monument has been standing since the times of the Inca empire.

It is a labyrinthic complex consisting of palaces, temples, an astronomic observatory, barns, squares, terraces and around 150 houses. Dug into the mountain, many of the rock blocks weighing more than 50 tons, the blocks are so accurately cut and joined that they are perfectly put together without any mortar. Built around 1450 by the Inca sovereign Pachacuti, the complex could shelter between 500 and 1,000 people.

The original name is not known and, though various theories have been formulated, the exact purpose of its construction or of its sudden abandonment without being attacked are not known. It was discovered only in 1911 by the archeologist Hiram Bingham and since then it has been known as Machu Pichu, named so after a nearby mountain.

The Inca people is one of the world’s greatest enigmas. In the 12th century, without anybody knowing their exact place of origin in South America, the Inca conquered a vast territory in the North and West of South America, thus setting up the largest pre-Columbian empire in America. Though they did not have a written alphabet (they had a system based on ropes and knots) and they had not discovered the wheel, the Inca were extraordinary citadel builders. They also built a 32,000 km long road network, paved with stone and including even suspended bridges. The Inca road system is second in length to the Roman one and the empire’s capital, Cuzco, was architecturally comparable to ancient Rome.

(see Cuzco)