The spectacular collection of temples, terraced hills and plazas was the mountain-top citadel of the Inca under Pachacutec and Tupac Yupanqui, until the coming of the Europeans with Pizarro.
It may have the most familiar name, but Machu Picchu has refused to reveal many of its mysteries, including the secrets of its construction, function and demise. The overgrown ruins were discovered by US historian Hiram Bingham in 1911, and the quality of the stonework hints that it was an extremely important ceremonial site.
The remains are thought to date from around 1450, built at the height of the Inca Empire, and as they escaped being plundered by the Spanish they include semi-intact icons and shrines that were defaced or removed at other sites.
Entering the site, a set of steps leads to the ruined Temple of the Sun and a series of altars and niches. Highlights include the remains of ceremonial baths, the Sacred Plaza with its tremendous view across the Urubamba River valley, a rare shrine to the sun, and a labyrinth of passageways and cells.
One of the best ways to visit Machu Picchu is on an all-inclusive Day Trip from Cusco, with scenic rail transport, entry and informative guide included.
This was amazing! Spent 2 weeks in South America (Colombia and Peru), and this was by far the highlight of the trip! Must do!
Great experience! The trip started with a hotel pick up in the morning, transportation to Machu Picchu, English speaking guide, and transportation back to our hotel in the evening. Our guide Victor was the best guide we’ve ever had. We asked him a lot of questions and he always answered in details and with a smile.
I do recommend this trip.
Amazing place, well organised, great experience
Buses leave Aguas Calientes every 10 or so minutes from 5:20am, and the last bus back to Aguas Calientes leaves at 5:30pm. Remember to buy your entry ticket to Machu Picchu before you head off - tickets aren’t sold at the site, only at the Machu Picchu Cultural Center in Aguas Calientes.
Machu Picchu can also be reached by the legendary four-day Inca Trail, following a majestic route across mountains and valleys.