Wordtravels

Wordtravels

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu © Brian Snelson
Machu Picchu © Brian Snelson

The ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is regarded as the most significant archaeological site in South America, and one of the finest examples of landscape architecture in the world. It is the most enthralling of the region's citadels, and lies high in the Andes. Fortunately, Spanish colonists didn't discover and destroy the structure, as it's completely concealed from below. In fact, the western world didn't find it until an American explorer stumbled across its thickly overgrown ruins in 1911. The site is surrounded by grazing llamas and steep agricultural terraces, and consists of a central plaza, towers, palaces, water canals, ornate fountains, food storehouses, perfectly balanced archways and a sacred ceremonial area of royal tombs and intricately carved temples. The sacred Temple of the Sun is one of the site's highlights. Another is the mountain called, Huayna Picchu, which forms a dramatic backdrop to the city. All told, 'The Lost City of the Incas' has an abiding sense of majesty and mystery, despite its popularity among tourists.

Website: www.machupicchu.gob.pe

Transport: Trains leave from Cuzco and Urubamba to Aguas Calientes, where a bus transports passengers to the ruins. There is also a path leading up to the ruins from Aguas Calientes for those who prefer to walk.

Opening times: Daily 6am-5pm. Huayna Picchu closes at 3pm.