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The Lost City of the Incas
When Columbus sailed the ocean blue in search of a new world, the Incan Empire already rivaled the size of the Roman Empire. It reached 4300 miles, spanning Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and parts of Chile and Argentina.

Rising to power in a little under a century, the Incan Empire crumbled just as quickly under Spanish Conquest. Machu Picchu, like the empire that created it, was a shooting star of glory.

Towering 7,970 feet above sea level on a mountain ridge overlooking the Urubamba River, it was a menacing site to rival tribes of the Inca. The marvel of Incan architecture and innovation was carved out of the granite rock of the mountain in 1450 and abandoned just one hundred years later, in 1572.

The city, like a stairway to the heavens, has weathered the centuries in spectacular health. Much of this is due to its innovative, dry stone construction. Many of the stone blocks, weighing as much as 50 tons, are so precisely fitted that not even a credit card could be slid between the mortar-free joints.

The city can be reached by foot, bus, train, even an orova—a basket passed across the river on a wire. For the adventurous, a four day hike covering 26 miles of the neighboring wildlife sanctuary offers the perfect opportunity to test one’s mettle and allows for a sensational entrance via the Sun Gate.

The city itself is a collection of palaces, temples, baths, and approximately 150 homes. In the holy district, visitors visit the Temple of the Sun, containing one of the few remaining Intihuatana, or Hitching Post of the Sun, which sits directly under the sun at midday every spring and fall equinox, casting no shadow at all.
Visitors to Machu Picchu have no trouble understanding why archeologists believe this World Heritage Site was a secret retreat for Incan Kings, a center for astronomy, and deeply religious to the Incan people described as “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization.”
 
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Hike Inca Trail
Machu Picchu, Peru
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