The ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu is the star attraction of Cuzco. Discovered in 1911 by US explorer Hiram Bingham, the citadel is deemed one of the world's finest examples of landscape architecture.
Machu Picchu ("old mountain" in Quechua, the ancient language of the Incas) nestles on top of a mountain saddle high above the Urubamba River in the middle of the cloud forest. It was both a center of worship and astronomic observatory as well as the private retreat of the family of Inca ruler Pachacútec. It is split into two major areas: the agricultural zone, made up of terracing and food storehouses; and the urban zone, featuring the sacred sector, with temples, squares and royal tombs which have been carved to an extraordinary degree of perfection. The stone staircases and canals are found throughout this unique archaeological site. Over the citadel looms Huayna Picchu ("young mountain" in Quechua), which can be climbed up a steep stone-paved trail.
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