This is undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous sights, the remains of the hilltop town of the Incas.
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes more than a thousand properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
Date of Inscription: 1983
Category: Cultural and natural site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 274:
“Machu Picchu stands 2,430 m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height; its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.”
I visited Machu Picchu on my 1987 South American journey. This is some of what I wrote home to my family:
“First the train climbed slowly slalom up on the heights over Cuzco and then followed a big green valley where they grow huge maize cobs. The North Americans on the train had a good time.
We then drove into the Sacred Valley of the Incas where the Urubamba River threw itself wild and fast down to its final stop, in the Amazon itself. The railway track followed the river through the narrow valley with high, rugged mountains on either side until we arrived at our destination.
The ruins are on a ridge 900 metres straight up on a serpentine mountain road from the station. A mighty sight and location. Machu Picchu proved to be well preserved and restored with terraces on both sides of the ridge. We walked on a small detour on the edge of a giant cliff to a bridge they had built along a vertical mountain face.”