Machu Picchu or Machu Pikchu (as Incas called it in Quechua speaking people still do) was founded as a citadel on an a mountain ridge at 2430 metres above sea level, above the Sacred Valley, located some 80 kilometres from Cuzco, through which the Urumamba River flows.
Machu Picchu is one of the most famous, if not the most famous, tourists site of Peru. Emperor Pachacuti built it between 1438 – 1472, archaeologists believe. It is he most familiar icon of Inca civilization.
By the time Spaniards arrived in late 15th century, what is now Peru, Machu Picchu was abandoned. It is built using polished dry-stone walls without mortar. The most famous buildings in the citadel are The Temple Of The Sun, The Temple With Tree Windows, Inhuantana, Sun Gate, and The Temple Of The Condor.
Machu Picchu is so well hidden that conquistadors could not find it, and for that season it was well preserved until Hiram Bingham, an American archaeologist discovered it in 1911.
Since then, Machu Picchu structures were gradually restored, especially in 1976, and still continue, to prevent further deterioration.
Machu Picchu consists of two sections, urban and agricultural. Incas were well aware of the importance and the necessity of the agricultural section due to the poor accessibility of the citadel.
Incan agriculture was advanced enough to select and plant crops that could be gown on such high altitudes. In fact they had bred several species of potatoes, even knew how to freeze them.
Effective July 2011, only 2500 visitors per day may visit Machu Picchu, as authorities discovered that too many visitors pose a danger to all structures of the site.
400 daily can only visit Huayna Picchu, the mountain overlooking the citadel. Travelling to Machu Picchu requires a train ride from Lima to Cuzco, which was the capital of the Incan Empire. Due to its high altitude, it is advisable to stay in Cuzco for at least a night to get adjusted to the altitude.
From Cuzco tourists can take the train, or travel by bus, then embark on another vehicle to reach the citadel. Reservations are required, and entrance fees must be paid in advance. Unquestionably, Machu Picchu is an engineering marvel, as it also contains a well-designed water supply and disposal system.
While reaching Machu Picchu requires some effort, for those interested in archaeology, and the Inca civilization, the efforts are well rewarded.