Cusco, Gateway To Machu Picchu
A flight across the Andes lands you in Cusco (Cuzco) Peru to visit the remnants of the Inca Empire and your gateway city to Machu Picchu. Cusco, capital of the empire, flourished long before the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, and neither they nor natural disaster could raze the foundations of the fortresses constructed during that era. the Pucara (fortress) of Sacsayhuyaman dominates the landscape with its tiered walls of sculpted boulders rising to heights of nearly 20 feet and weighing in excess of 300 tons. How these came to be constructed and how its large stones were quarried and transported to the site remains a mystery to this very day.
The city has a population of just under 500,000 with an elevation of just over 11,000 feet. As the historic capital of the Inca Empire, it held dominance from the 13th century until the Spanish invaders arrived mid-16th century. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it has become a main tourist attraction with its narrow cobbled-stone streets, magnificent historical buildings and beautiful landscape.
One of the greatest finds of the past century was the “Lost City” of Machu Picchu, discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. A three-hour ride by train from Cusco through the Urubamba Valley places you within the last refuge of the Incas as they fled the conquistadors’ attack upon the city of Cusco. Nestled at 8,000 feet within nearly inaccessible mountains, and almost invisible from the valley floor, this magnificent site comprised over 200 buildings of superbly cut stone. Nature’s beauty blends perfectly with the remains of the temples, baths, houses, and terraces ~ remarkably constructed and unbelievably preserved.
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