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Visit Machu Picchu - Lost City of the Incas
Some say that no other city, monument, relic, mountain, or sight on earth will affect you quite the way Machu Picchu does as you first casually stroll around a bend high in the Andes and suddenly come upon this glorious, and wondrous city. You will be struck by the vastness of the scene... all the way to the distant peak of the Huayna Picchu Mountains. If you can catch your breath, peer over either side of the plateau, and view the Urubamba River and valley... 3,000 feet below.

For centuries, historians believed that the Incas established a huge mountain kingdom not far from Cuzco, but it wasn't until 1911 that Hiram Bingham, a professor from Yale, discovered this remarkably preserved city high in the Andes. Now, it's known that Machu Picchu was a self-sustaining community, which grew its own food and produced its own goods. There was no outside contact. In all, about 1,000 Incas lived here until the death of the last Inca ruler in 1571. And then, for no apparent reason, the city was abandoned. No one saw it again until Bingham's discovery. There has been no restoration done here. Only the tremendous over-growth was cleared away. The roofs of the buildings, which were made of straw, are missing. Otherwise, the condition of the structures is astonishing. Today, this "Lost City of the Incas" ranks as one of the great archeological finds of the 20th century.

After your initial reaction to the sight, walk down into the city and then walk quietly through the buildings. In the highest area of the city are the temples, among them the sacred Temple of the Sun with its famous sundial used by the Incas to "tie down" the sun symbolically at the winter solstice each year. They sought to prevent the sun, which they worshipped, from "escaping" by roping a huge gold disk to the sundial. Inspect the sundial. It is in almost perfect condition, a testament to Inca craftsmanship. Another structure you'll see, in equally good condition, is the circular Temple of the Chosen Women. Not far from that is the cemetery, where hundreds of skeletons were uncovered, only a few of them being male, boys and old men. Wind your way through the city using the hundred or more perfect stairways, notice the elaborate terraces cut into the sides of the city... designed in a horizontal pattern so than rainwater was retained for long periods. This was their key to successful farming - a method that is still used in Peru. As you continue the walk, you will realize that you are in a kind of trance brought on by the beauty and the enchantment of this magical place. Four hours will have passed by quickly.

You will arrive at Machu Picchu by train about 9:30 AM, having boarded about 7 AM in Cuzco. It's totally organized and coordinated by the government. Upon arrival at Machu Picchu, look up and see if you can find any indication of a city - even after its location is pointed out to you. Next, a microbus will take you up the serpentine road to the city... about 20 minutes. Your visit here will end in time to catch the 4:20 PM train back to Cuzco. Do take a light sweater along and a bottle of water. This site and its setting must rank as one of the great wonders of the world.
About the Author
Author of this article is Gene Gill. For more information visit his website: Gene Gill Miniatures.
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