Machu Picchu

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(CC) Photo: Andrew Jones
Machu Picchu as seen from a neighboring peak.

Machu Picchu is an archaeological site in the Andes just northwest of Cusco, Peru. It was built by the Incas in about 1450 AD and is thought to have served as a sort of royal estate for the emperor. The site was abandoned at about the time of Spanish conquest but escaped the destruction that was wreaked on other Inca sites by the conquistadors. Rediscovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911,[1] the site has become an enormously popular tourist destination, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. It is a UNESCO designated World Heritage site.[2]

Notes

  1. Recent studies suggest that the site may actually have been explored by German business man Augusto Berns somewhat earlier. See the AP archive here
  2. See the UNESCO website at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/274