Machu Picchu - Lost City of the Incas
Machu Picchu is an old Inca site located in the mountains of Peru, about 80 kilometres northwest of Cusco. Archaeologists think that Machu Picchu was built as a home for the emperor of the Incas, a civilization that lived there before Columbus discovered America. The site is often called the Lost City of the Incas.
The Spanish conquistadors started conquering the Inca in the 16 th century . But history tells us that they did not know anything about the historic site of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu was not known to the outside world until the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham discovered the site in 1911. Since then a large part of the settlement has been restored and today, Machu Picchu attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists from around the world. In 1983 it became a UNESCO World Heritage site .
Travelling to Machu Picchu is no easy deal .Most visitors take the plane to the Peruvian capital Lima and then to Cusco, a small town in the Andes, once the capital of the Inca empire . There they get used to the altitude of 3,500 meters.
From Cusco many tourists take the train to Machu Picchu, although some very tough ones go up the Inca Trail , which takes about three or four days. When going on foot you must make reservations because Peruvian authorities only allow a certain number of visitors on the trail every day.
Once you get there Machu Picchu often shows the average tourist a mystic image. The site is situated on top of a high hill with steep slopes dropping to the valleys below. The mountains are often covered in fog and clouds.
The ruins of Machu Picchu are divided into two sections. In the agricultural area visitors can see how the Inca grew their crops and worked on their land. In the urban section you can see the Temple of the Sun and other buildings where people lived and worshipped their gods.
Many tourists rush through Machu Picchu in a day and catch the last train back to Cusco, but some people take their time and spend the night in Aguas Calientes, the nearest town, only 6 kilometres away. Those who are in good physical shape can go on hiking trips in the nearby mountains and visit smaller peaks in the area.
Although Machu Picchu is Peru’s main tourist attraction the government is worried by almost one million tourists who visit the Andean fortress every year. Archaeologists are afraid that the increasing number of tourists will damage the ruins and let the citadel slide down the steep mountains as the soil gives way .
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- agricultural = farming
- although = while
- altitude = height
- archaeologist = person who studies old towns and cultures and examines the buildings that were built centuries ago
- attract = pull towards you, catch the attention of
- attraction = place which many people visit
- authorities = organization or a government department that has power
- average = normal
- capital = most important city of a country; where the government is
- century = a hundred years
- certain = special
- citadel = fortress; group of buildings or a castle that is used to defend yourself
- conquistador = Spanish soldiers who explored the New World and took land and riches away from the people who lived there
- crop = a plant that farmers grow and use as food
- damage = destroy
- deal = task, job
- discover = to find for the first time
- emperor = man who rules a group of countries
- empire = group of countries ruled by a king or a queen
- fog = cloudy air near the ground
- fortress = group of buildings that are important for defending yourself
- give w ay = here: break away
- good physical shape = your body is strong
- government = people who rule a country
- increase = go up
- make a reservation = book in advance, before you go
- mystic = something that is related to religion and that people find hard to understand
- outside world = the civilized world
- peak = the sharply pointed top of a mountain
- restore = to make something return to its earlier condition or state
- ruins = what is left of old buildings
- rush through = go through a place very quickly
- settlement = town
- site = place, location
- situated = located
- slope = the side of a mountain
- soil = the top layer of earth
- steep = sharp, abrupt
- tough = hard, strong
- trail = path, track through the mountains
- UNESCO World Heritage Site = place or building that is very important to the rest of the world and must be preserved
- urban = like a city or town
- valley = area of land between two mountains , usually with a river flowing through it
- worship = pray to; to say words to god