Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

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Machu Picchu, the 'Lost City of the Incas', is the most spectacular Inca site on the continent. It is not mentioned whatsoever in the chronicles of the Spanish conquistadors and it was not until 1911, when the American historian Hiram Bingham 'discovered' is accidentally, that the outside world knew about it, apart from some local Quechua peasants. Actually Bingham was searching for the lost city of Vilcabamba, but that was situated at Espiritu Pampa, much deeper in the jungle.

Bingham returned to Machu Picchu in 1912 and 1915 to help clearing the thick vegetation that covered the ruins and to map the site. Despite the fact that excavations started during that time, even nowadays the ruins continue to retain their secrets and it is not even known what Machu Picchu's original function was.

After some 50 burial sites where found, which contained around 80% of female remains, it was speculated that the city housed the Inca's chosen women. It is not known if Machu Picchu was the Incas' last stronghold against the Spanish, or if it had been abandoned long before that time.

The site's mysterious past attracts thousands of tourists every year. It is best to come to the site in the early morning, before the tour groups start arriving. The nearest city of any size is Cuzco, 60 km to the southeast, where accommodation and restaurants are available. Machu Picchu is 520 km east of Lima.

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