Situated in the Cordillera de Vilcabamba of the Andes Mountains lie the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. Not only is this one of the most historically-rich landmarks in Peru, but it also includes a spectacular hike along the Inca Trail to this popular sanctuary. Machu Picchu has even been recognised as one of the best UNESCO World Heritage sites in South America, and has been included as one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Read on to discover more about Machu Picchu, one of the 7 Wonders of the World through Chloe’s journey.
- Chloe’s journey to Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, also known as the Inca City, was virtually forgotten until it was discovered in the early 20th century. The site was overgrown and almost lost amongst its heavily forested surroundings.
Since Machu Picchu was revealed to the outside world, work began to restore many of the outlying buildings. This allowed tourists to have an idea of what the city would have originally looked like. One theory is that the city was intended as a summer retreat for the Inca King, complete with religious and ceremonial areas, a residential district and wide sweeping lawns.
My journey to this once-in-a-lifetime destination began on the 1st of November 2013. It was an early start as we left our hotel in Cusco and wound our way by train through the Urubamba Valley (Sacred Valley) to the small, quaint town of Aguas Calientes. The jaw dropping views of the surrounding valley and snow-capped peaks of the Andes were just enough to keep the anticipation of visiting Machu Picchu at bay. Aguas Calientes is the base for anyone visiting the archaeological site. Many hotels, restaurants, bars and shops line the small narrow streets of the town. Aguas Calientes is also filled with tourists of all ages, excited to see what lay only a few hundred metres above. From the town, a series of coaches run every so often, ferrying the thousands of people the short 20 minute journey to the site. Everyone is eagerly looking out the window of the coaches, trying to spot their first glimpse of Huayna Picchu - the largest well-known hill of the Machu Picchu site.
Spectacular view from the mountains
After ensuring my passport was branded with the Machu Picchu stamp, my first vision of the ruins and stunning backdrop was simply astonishing. I had seen that 'one' picture of Machu Picchu many times before; in magazines, travel brochures, on TV and during my career within the travel industry. But, nothing compares to being there and seeing it for yourself. My camera was constantly being clicked as I tried to capture every angle of the Incan remnants. I waited my turn to have 'that' picture taken with the surreal scenery behind before descending into the labyrinth of stone walls, depicting the rooms that were once inhabited by the ancient civilisation.
Discovering the stunning architecture and the inquisitive alpacas
Steep stone staircases lead you from one section of the city to another, connecting the zones of the living quarters, religious ceremonial temples and agricultural terraces. Free roaming alpacas graze on the lush grass of the central square, providing a sense of life to this now dormant scene.
I took a moment to find a quiet spot, to reflect, and try and take in my magnificent surroundings before having to make the journey back to the town below. Leaving the site, I held my stare with the imposing Huayna Picchu for as long as I could before it disappeared from view. And, I knew that I had just experienced the wonder that is, Machu Picchu.
What are the 7 wonders of the world?
The 7 wonders of the world are places that are considered to be the most historically and culturally important. They include:
- The Great Wall Of China
- Taj Mahal, India
- Petra, Jordan
- The Colosseum, Italy
- Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
- Chichen Itza, Mexico
- Machu Picchu, Peru
What are 5 facts about Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is listed as one of the 7 wonders of the world for a reason. There are many fascinating facts about this popular tourist destination.
- Machu Picchu in Peru sits 2,430 metres above sea level
- Up to 2,500 tourists visit the site daily
- The Inca Empire was known to be one of the largest empires, covering Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile
- You can get your passport stamped at the entrance
- Each stone is precisely cut to fit together, meaning no mortar was needed
Why was Machu Picchu so important?
According to modern Archaeologists, Machu Picchu used to be a royal estate for the Inca nobles and emperors. Some people also believe it served as a religious sanctuary. The overgrown space was also rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham, which then led to The National Geographic Society and various Universities to study the area. It has since been named as an important UNESCO World Heritage site.
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