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Machu Picchu marks 100 years of ‘discovery’
A Must See in 2011

Peru 100 Years





Machu Picchu
(“Old Mountain” in Quechua), is an impressive sight as it rises out of the midst of a group of green covered mountains, 7,874 feet above sea level in this steamy, semitropical region of southern Peru. Its beauty touches visitors’ senses, and the mysteries surrounding it keep people asking the yet unresolved questions. Why was this city built in a hidden spot of the South American jungle? What did Machu Picchu really mean to the Incas? How was it possible for them to move gargantuan stones that fit perfectly one to another to construct such immense walls?

Re-discovered in 1911 by the American explorer, Hiram Bingham, this city is built at the top of a granite mountain. The Incas, using ingenious engineering techniques, were able to transport heavy stone blocks up the mountain side, and once there, they used their excellent masonry skills to produce amazingly polished stones that fit together perfectly.


"It's one of the most stunning and iconic landmarks in the world, but for Peruvians Machu Picchu is much more than an archaeological site. It's become a symbol of national identity even though its origins are still shrouded in mystery.

Some believe it may have been a refuge for an Inca ruler, others that it was a religious sanctuary. It's all part of the attraction for the nearly million tourists who visit the mountain-top citadel every year.

A hundred years ago the American historian Hiram Bingham claimed to have discovered the city high up in the Andes, hidden by dense jungle. Most experts now agree that Mr Bingham, from Yale University, was not the first to rediscover Machu Picchu. A Peruvian explorer had been there a decade earlier.

The story of its discovery may have been romanticised, yet Mr Bingham's expedition certainly made this unknown wonder of the world famous.

Thousands of artefacts which he took from these ruins are now being returned. They'll go on display in nearby Cuzco later this month. A century after Mr Bingham's visit Peruvians are happy to share this place with the world, but they're also keen to reclaim Machu Picchu as their own."

Dan Collyns, BBC News, Cuzco


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