What is Machu Picchu?

Often called the “Lost City of the Incas”, Machu Picchu is a well-preserved pre-Columbian Inca ruin located on a high mountain ridge in Peru about 44 miles (70 km) northwest of Cusco. Forgotten for centuries by the outside world, although not by locals, it was brought back to international attention by Yale archaeologist Hiram Bingham who rediscovered it in 1911, and wrote a best-selling work about it. Machu Picchu is probably the most familiar symbol of the Inca Empire. Since 1983 the site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has been the subject of concern about damage caused by tourism.

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