This Inca city, built on a land far from the roads, offers itself to your eyes like a mirage! Machu Picchu means “Old Mountain”. The website is located in the province of Urubamba, east of the Andes Cordillera, at the limits of the Amazonian forest in Peru. More than 500 years of Inca history to discover here…
What you need to know about Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, perched on a rocky promontory, refers to Mount Machu Picchu and Mount Huayna Picchu.
The construction of Machu Picchu dates back to the 15th century, during the great period of the Inca civilizations. It was at that time one of the residences of the emperor Pachacútec, a religious sanctuary, then a refuge for the Incas of Vilcabamba who were trying to resist the Spanish conquistadors. Its strategic location, difficult to access, was indeed their asset to carry out their resistance. Atahualpa was the last Inca emperor but he was assassinated by a Spaniard, a murder that put an end to the great Inca civilization.
At the fall of the Inca Empire, when the construction of Machu Picchu was not completed, the sacred city was abandoned and forgotten for centuries. It was not until 1870 that the ruins were discovered and in 1983 the website was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the “Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu”.
The website is composed of two parts, a set of terraced crops, huge staircases carved into the mountainside (the agricultural area) and a village in which the dwellings were built and where religious ceremonies took place (the urban area).
Where is Machu Picchu located?
Machu Picchu is about 30 km from Cuzco, the starting point for the vast majority of travelers. Cuzco is 1100 kilometers from the capital Lima. There is an airport in the city of Cuzco (Alejandro Velasco Astete), which allows those who do not wish to reach the website by road from the capital, to reach it quickly.
How to get to Machu Picchu?
Machu Picchu is about 30 km from Cuzco. The website is open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., it is generally recommended to go there in the early morning to enjoy the sunrise without the crowd, a winning combo! To get there, several possibilities are available to you, depending on the time, energy and financial means at your disposal.
Above all, buy your tickets well in advance, at least 10 days before the desired date! If you are planning to climb Huayna Picchu, you should get there 2 months in advance (see below)!
How long does it take to get to Machu Picchu?
It is perfectly possible to make the round trip from Cuzco during the day, which is what the majority of travelers do.
You can also decide to spend two days by spending a night in Agua Calientes, which is the nearest village.
And finally, for lovers of long treks, the best option is to go on a trek of three, four or five days.
How to reach Machu Picchu from Cuzco?
Be careful, tickets for Machu Picchu are only sold for half a day!
You can therefore choose two slots: between 6 and 12 am or between 12 and 5:30 pm. The time on the spot is thus limited to 6 hours. Moreover it is mandatory to be accompanied by an official guide to enter the website. Independent visits are no longer permitted. These measures have been applied in order to preserve the website from too many visitors.
The visit of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is an archeological area but also has mountain peaks in the surrounding area that lend themselves to hiking. You will have once again the choice concerning the time you will devote to it and the energy you will put into it.
Plan your visit in advance!
Above all, buy your tickets well in advance, at least 10 days before the desired date! If you plan to climb Huayna Picchu, you should plan 2 months in advance!
Since July 1, 2017, tickets for Machu Picchu are only sold on a half-day basis!
You can therefore choose two slots: between 6am and 12pm or between 12pm and 5.30pm. The time on site is therefore limited to 6 hours. Moreover it is mandatory to be accompanied by an official guide to enter the website. Independent visits are no longer permitted. These measures have been applied in order to preserve the website from too many visitors.
The archaeological website of Machu Picchu
The agricultural area is the part that groups together the old terraced crops, it is green, vertiginous in places and the walk is splendid!
The Urban Zone gathers the following historical remains :
- The Temple of the Condor
- The Three Doors
- The Sacred Stone
- The Mortar Zone
- The Sacred Square with the temple with the 3 windows and the main Temple
- The Royal Palace
- The Intihuatana (the ritual stone associated with the Inca calendar)
- The Temple of the Sun and the Royal Tomb
- The city gate that leads to the city with houses and workshops