Machu Picchu looms above the Sacred Valley in Peru, a sprawling collection of stone structures, shrouded by mist, and blending harmoniously with the surrounding mountain ridge. Frequently, though inaccurately, described as “The Lost City of the Incas,” Machu Picchu is a favorite among travelers to Peru. Each year, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to the country just to explore Machu Picchu. LeafCanoer, daijie, recently shared her travels to Machu Picchu in her leaf, “Visit Machu Picchu.” Like many travelers before, daijie spent her time exploring the various areas of this ancient and unique Inca site.
The citadel of Machu Picchu was built in 1450, presumably as an estate for the Inca emperor, Pachacuti. Using classical Inca style architecture, Machu Picchu consists of structures and buildings made with polished dry-stone walls. The grounds, which sits over 8,000 feet above sea level, is divided into an agricultural area, comprised of terraces, and the urban section, used for administrative purposes. The structures were linked to the rest of the Inca Empire via a road called Qhapaq Nan.
Long overlooked (or unknown) by non-Peruvians, Machu Picchu gained prominence in the early 1900’s through the works of American historian, Hiram Bingham. By 1981, Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary, and in 1983, it joined the ranks of The Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Acropolis of Athens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many of the outer buildings of Machu Picchu have been reconstructed, with over 30% of the buildings having received some form of restoration prior to it being accepted as a World Heritage Site.
These days, Machu Picchu is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. It is now one of Peru’s major revenue generators, though it still has managed to retain a certain level of adventure and a rustic feel. For those considering paying a visit to Machu Picchu, here are highlights of places to visit, to get you on your way to explore Machu Picchu:
Visit the Sun Gate
In Inca times, the Sun Gate was used to mark the entrance to Machu Picchu. These days, it serves as a starting off point for exploring the ancient citadel.
Walk through the Sacred Plaza
One of the most famous parts of Machu Picchu, and undoubtedly one of the most photographed, the Sacred Plaza comprises of three buildings: the Main Temple, the Temple of Three Windows, and the Priest’s House.
Explore the Royal Tomb
Thought to be the final resting place of many Inca leaders, the Royal Tomb boasts some of the best masonry in Machu Picchu.
Marvel at the Temple of the Sun
The Temple of the Sun is a semi-circular building, the only one of its kind at Machu Picchu, that consists of a large stone altar used for spiritual worship and sacrifice.
Hike along the lower or upper routes
Hiking is by far one of the most popular activities to do at Machu Picchu. There are two main trails to choose from, the lower route and the upper route, and both offer you a nice challenge while you explore Machu Picchu at your own pace.
Cross the Inca Bridge
Located just 15 minutes away from Machu Picchu is the Inca Draw Bridge, which goes along the original Inca Trail. Though the structure itself is fairly simple and uninteresting, the best part about visiting the draw bridge is the fantastic view of the Andean mountains.
Take in the views at the Guardhouse
Another great place to take in views is at the Guardhouse, which offers panoramic views of all of Machu Picchu.
Whether you are visiting Machu Picchu for one day, or returning for multiple days of excursions, there is just so much to see at Machu Picchu for visitors of all styles and interests. For those of you ready to explore Machu Picchu, check out more of daijie’s leaf on LeafCanoe.
You can also check out the other leaves on LeafCanoe by downloading the LeafCanoe app.