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MACHU PICCHU, PERU

While Peru inevitably evokes images of Machu Picchu and the Inca empire, the country is also riddled with archaeological sites which are a legacy of even more ancient times, when great civilizations bequeathed a legacy of their art, customs and rituals, their wisdom and skills.

The Inca empire was a recent arrival during the process of cultural development in the Andes during the pre-Hispanic era, and the history of the Incas barely accounts for a century within the 20,000 years of human occupation of Peruvian territory.

Much earlier than the Incas and while civilizations like the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese (3000 and 2000 B.C.) flourished, the city of Caral, located north of the city of Lima, was built; this was the first American expression of a Pre-Ceramic urban settlement with monumental architecture in an area greater than 10 hectares. Later, in the northern highlands, the Chavin (800 – 200 B.C.) achieved significant advances in architecture, engineering, and agriculture.

The Chavín civilization (1500-400 BC) achieved considerable prowess in architecture, engineering and agriculture in the northern highlands. Along the north coast, the Moche civilization (200 BC-700 AD) is famous for its realistic pottery (portraits carved into pots and gourds) and its pyramid-shaped temples. The same area was later controlled by the Chimú kingdom (900-1450 AD), who built Chan Chan, an immense mud-brick citadel featuring 12-meter-high walls and superb architectural work.

To the south, the Nazca people (200 BC-900 AD) etched an impressive series of figures etched into the desert floor known as the Nazca Lines, while graves belonging to the Paracas culture (800 BC-600 AD) have unearthed superb weavings which point to the magical and religious vision that governed the lives of this ancient civilization.

Centuries later, the Incas (1300-1500 AD) were to make Cuzco the center of their empire, building major constructions such as Sacsayhuaman, Pisac and Koricancha. It is here that myth and history merge, where the Inca roads, the towns, people and traditions are a living example of the Andean spirit, sacred and monumental.
Discover why Peru is for many the heart of South America's greatest civilizations.

Machu Picchu: one of the wonders of the world

The city of Machu Picchu is the department of Cusco’s most important tourist attraction. Discovered in 1911 by the American explorer, Hiram Bingham, this city is considered to be one of the most extraordinary examples of scenic architecture in the world.

The city of Machu Picchu itself was built at the top of a granite mountain. The Incas, using ingenious engineering techniques, were able to transport heavy stone blocks up the mountain side, and once there, they used their excellent masonry skills to produce amazingly polished stones that fit together perfectly.