Landmarks to Visit: Machu Picchu
The fifth largest city in the Americas, Lima is a melting pot of cultures that mixes ancient traditions with cosmopolitan modernity. Boasting a vibrant nightlife and restaurants that are widely considered to be some of the best in South America, Lima is also your gateway to the most visited site in all of Peru, the world-famous mountaintop city of Machu Picchu.
“Discovered” by the American historian Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu has become an iconic remnant of the ancient Incan Empire. Historians estimate the mighty Incas built the limestone-heavy site in the 15th or 16th century as a royal estate or sacred religious site. It was likely abandoned when the Spanish conquistadors began invading the region. The site, which stands 2,430 meters above sea level, consists of over 200 structures that remained untouched for years.
In addition to being the site of now famous ruins, Machu Picchu is also home to numerous endangered and threatened species, such as the neotropical otter and the dwarf brocket, as well as specialized vegetation like the “Puna” grasslands and Polylepis thickets. Furthermore, the South American attraction was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 and claimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
Today, Machu Picchu still possesses an undeniable air of mythology and mysticism, with its original purpose still shrouded in debate and mystery. But what we do know for sure is that, for the people who journey there, Machu Picchu is an unforgettable memory.
Celebrity cruisers can include an off-board excursion to Machu Picchu onboard the Xpedition.