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Mountain Fortress of the Incas: Machu Picchu

The ancient city in Peru was home to some 2,000 inhabitants


By B. John Zavrel



Machu Picchu, the mountain fortress of the Incas was discovered only in 1911 by the US archeologist Hiram Bingham. The ancient city lies at an elevation of nearly 8,000 feet.


Lima/New York (mea) More than 250,000 visitors come the Peru's most popular tourist attraction, the ruins of the ancient mountain city-fortress of the Incas.

The village of Aguas Calientes is the last railway station for the visitors. From there, one has to take a local bus, which takes one through 13 hairpin curves eight miles up the mountain.

Founded in about 1450, the city overlooked the valley of the Urubamba River. Nowadays, the ruins cover an area of some 3 square miles.




The inhabitants lived in some 200 stone houses, most of them are still well preserved. But when Hiram Bingham discovered the ancient ruins in 1911, his team found no gold and no weapons. Only graves and mummies. From this scientists assume that the inhabitants left the city secretly, so that the Spanish invaders would not find and destroy it.





The view from 8,000 feet into the valley of the Urubamba River below the ruins of the ancient city. Because it is located in a very inaccessible area, it was discovered only about 100 years ago. Today, it is the most popular tourist destination in Peru. On their way back, many tourists take the time to visit Cusco, the old capital of the empire of the Incas.



© PROMETHEUS 113/2006

PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin - News, Politics, Art and Science. Nr. 113, November 2006