Undiscovered by the conquering Spaniards in the 16th century, the ruins of Machu Picchu were virtually forgotten until rediscovered" by Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham in 1911. Considered to be a royal estate or sacred religious site for Inca leaders, this awe-inspiring ancient city covers 80,000 acres (32,500 hectares) of land and is located 75 miles northwest of the city of Cuzco, former capital of the Inca Empire. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 and designated one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, the ruins are Peru’s most visited attraction, with thousands of tourists visiting the site every year.
A truly unique meeting destination, visitors may stay in hotels in the town of Aguas Calientes or at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, a five star hotel located alongside the ruins. This luxurious hotel has landscaped ponds and direct views of the Huayna Picchu Mountain. Belmond Sanctuary is accessible only by private bus service and round-trip bus tickets must be purchased from the Consettur booth at the Aguas Calientes Train Station. For those staying in Aguas Calientes, there are several buses that travrl uphill to the ruins. For more outdoorsy visitors, a walk to the ruins can take less than two hours. The best time to visit Machu Picchu is in May or June when temperatures are mild with very little precipitation.
In the midst of a tropical mountain forest on the eastern slopes of the Peruvian Andes, Machu Picchu bears witness to the Inca civilization’s architectural, agricultural and engineering prowess with magnificent stonework and a sophisticated irrigation system. The Temple of the Sun (also called the Torreon), the Temple of Three Windows, the Temple of the Condor, and the Intihuatana Stone are the most important structures at Machu Picchu. This icon of Inca civilization is far from forgotten today and is a must-see for any visitor to Peru.