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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the Americas, and is also one of the most beautiful places in the world. Machu Picchu is actually the name of the tall mountain to the south of the ruins, and means ‘old peak’. Huayna Picchu, the pointed mountain to the north of the ruins, means ‘young peak’.
The exact purpose of Machu Picchu is unknown. It was never discovered by the Spanish and no one ever recorded any information about it. However, the high quality of the stonework and the large number of important temples and fountains indicate that the whole area was a very important ceremonial center. The site was never looted by the Spanish, and it is therefore the best-preserved Inca complex in existence.
Apart from the main body of the ruins, there are several areas in Machu Picchu worth seeing. The most commonly visited of these is the peak of Huayna Picchu, the pointed mountain directly behind the open plaza. At first sight it would appear that it might be impossible to climb this mountain, and the terracing visible near its summit seems an impossible feat. However, there is a well-defined path, which, although steep, is not particularly difficult to climb.
Another climb that is possible by the ruins is up to the top of the Machu Picchu Mountain, to the south of the ruins. There is also a trail that leads behind the mountain to the Inca Drawbridge. Here, the path becomes very narrow with a substantial drop to your side. The drawbridge itself is a gap in the path that the Inca’s left to prevent unwanted visitors crossing. The gap was bridged by logs that could be easily withdrawn.
Another common side-trip from the main ruins is up to the Intipunku, the sun gate, which is about a 30-minute hike from the main ruins. This is where the Inca Trail emerges. The ruins are not very interesting, but the view is superb.
From the Intipunku it is possible to carry on to the spectacular ruins of Wiñay Wayna, about 1½ hours further on.

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