Machu Picchu

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Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu *

Machu Picchu early morning.JPG

The mountain Huayna Picchu overlooks the ruins of Machu Picchu
Country  Peru
Type Mixed
Criteria i, ii, vii, ix
Reference 274
Region ** World Heritage Sites in the Americas:
Latin America and the Caribbean
Inscription history
Inscription 1983 (7th Session)
Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian 15th-century Inca site in Peru, in South America.

The Incas built the city on a mountain ridge, 2430m above sea level. They lived there between 1200 and 1450 AD. Other people lived there before about 650 AD.

The Incas built houses, fields and temples by cutting the rock on the mountain so it was flat. They built an observatory to look at the stars.

When the Spanish invaded Peru, the Incas left Machu Picchu. Nobody knows for sure why they did that, but some think it was because they were scared of the Spanish. The city was left unfinished, most likely due to the Spanish invasion and/or a civil war between the ruling rival Inca brothers named Huascar and Atahualpa. The Spanish never found Machu Picchu or the lost city during their occupation.

Machu Picchu is very difficult to get to because it is so high in the mountains. It has only one way in and a stone wall to protect it. Most people on Earth did not know it was there until a Yale graduate named Hiram Bingham rediscovered it in 1911. He heard rumours of a hidden city which was already known to the native Peruvians, who guided him there. He led a restoration project that was partly funded by the National Geographic Society. Bingham made a deal with the government to take artifacts to the Peabody Museum for study. Peru is still trying to have those artifacts returned to them.

Machu Picchu was declared a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary in 1981 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide Internet poll.

Today, there is a new road so that tourists can visit. People can also walk along the Inca Trail, or take a train from Cusco.

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This article is about a World Heritage Site