Machu Picchu in Peru. This lost city, built in the 1400s, is Peru’s most popular tourist destination.
7,000 feet above sea level and nestled on a small hilltop between the Andean Mountain Range, the majestic city soars above the Urabamba Valley below. The Incan built structure has been deemed the “Lost Cities”, unknown until its relatively recent discovery in 1911. Archaeologists estimate that approximately 1200 people could have lived in the area, though many theorize it was most likely a retreat for Incan rulers. Due to it’s isolation from the rest of Peru, living in the area full time would require traveling great distances just to reach the nearest village.
Separated into three areas – agricultural, urban, and religious – the structures are arranged so that the function of the buildings matches the form of their surroundings. The agricultural terracing and aqueducts take advantage of the natural slopes; the lower areas contain buildings occupied by farmers and teachers, and the most important religious areas are located at the crest of the hill, overlooking the lush Urubamba Valley thousands of feet below.
Hikers, tourists, and the early explorers describe similar emotions as they climb their way through the Inca Trail. Many call the experience magical. Glancing out from the Funerary Rock Hut on all the temples, fields, terraces, and baths seems to take you to another time. Blending in with the hillside itself, many say the area creates a seamless and elegant green paradise, making it a must for anyone who travels to Peru.