The “Lost City” of Machu Picchu is the most famous and most mysterious monument of the Inca culture in the world, of course, included in the UNESCO list. Machu Picchu was discovered only a hundred years ago by pure chance: one of the local peasants told archaeologists about the ancient high mountain ruins. This is the only Inca monument untouched by the Spaniards: either the conquerors simply did not come here, or the peasants they came across were less talkative.
Machu Picchu is a city of ancient America, located on the territory of modern Peru, on the top of a mountain range at an altitude of 2450 meters above sea level. In 2007 he was included in the list new 7 wonders of the world. Also, Machu Picchu is often called the "city in the sky" or "city among the clouds", sometimes called the "lost city of the Incas."
Until now, neither the purpose of its construction, nor the number of inhabitants, nor even its real name are known for sure. However, some archaeologists believe that this city was created as a sacred mountain haven by the great Inca ruler Pachacutec a century before the conquest of his empire, that is, approximately in 1440, and functioned until 1532, when the Spaniards invaded the territory of the Inca empire. In 1532, all its inhabitants mysteriously disappeared. The Spanish conquistadors never made it to Machu Picchu. This city was not destroyed.
Due to its modest size, Machu Picchu cannot claim to be a large city – it has no more than 200 buildings. These are mainly temples, residences, warehouses and other premises for public needs. For the most part, they are made of well-worked stone, slabs tightly fitted to each other. It is believed that up to 1200 people lived in and around it, who worshiped the sun god Inti there, cultivated new lands and built cities on terraces.
History and architecture of Machu Picchu
For more than 400 years, this city was forgotten and abandoned. It was discovered by an American researcher from Yale University, Professor Hiram Bingham on July 24, 1911. When he arrived here, accompanied by a government-sponsored guard and a local boy guide, he discovered the peasants living there.
Machu Picchu has a very clear structure. A complex of palace buildings is guessed in the southeast. The stones from which they are built are processed so carefully that it can be said with certainty that they were not built by the same masters who laid down the rest of the buildings.
Among other things, there is a room in the rocks, the voids of which are filled with stones so fitted to each other that modern stoneworkers are not able to explain how this was done.
The polygonal masonry of the buildings of this city impresses specialists with its precision fitting of granite blocks. It is exactly like the masonry in the opposite part of the Earth in Aladzha Huyuk in the territory of modern Turkey.
To build a city in such an inconvenient place for construction, incredible skill was required. According to civil engineer Kenneth Wright and archaeologist Alfredo Valencia Segarra, more than half of the building effort went into site preparation, drainage, and foundation work. Massive retaining walls and stepped terraces have been supporting the city for more than 500 years, preventing rains and landslides from demolishing it from the rocky ledge.
The heirs of the Andean cultures to this day consider Machu Picchu a symbol of their connection with the great civilization of the past, a part of history that the conquerors could not erase from memory.
The current state of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, especially after receiving the UNESCO World Heritage status, has become a center of mass tourism. In 2011, a decision was made to limit the number of visitors. Under the new rules, only 2500 tourists per day can visit Machu Picchu, of which no more than 400 people can climb Mount Huayna Picchu, which is part of the archaeological complex. In order to preserve the monument, UNESCO demands to reduce the number of tourists per day to 800. Machu Picchu is located in a remote region. To support tourism, a railway was built to the neighboring city of Aguas Calientes from Cusco via Ollantaytambo, more than ten trains a day run from Ollantaytambo. From the Aguas Calientes railway station to Machu Picchu, there is a bus that overcomes eight kilometers of a steep serpentine climb. UNESCO opposed the construction of the cable car to limit the flow of tourists.
The original Inca trail to Machu Picchu has been preserved along the Urubamba River through several passes, a hike that takes several days.
At the 35th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, it was decided that the ancient city from February 1, 2012 will be excluded from the list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. At the same time, the committee does not refuse further actions that contribute to the improvement of the state of the city, and considers it necessary to continue to monitor the "evolution of this enclave."
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