Saturday, September 24, 2011

Machu Picchu, Peru

We recently spent a week in Peru visiting Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley!  What a beautiful country!  It was a wonderful vacation full of interesting sites and long hikes.  We spent several nights in Cusco which was the former capital of the Inca empire. Its narrow streets and plazas reflect life long ago.  Some of the highlights of this little city include Sacsayhuamán which is a walled complex made of large polished dry-stone walls, each boulder carefully cut to fit together tightly without mortar; a piece of paper cannot fit between the stones     - the stonehenge of South America - so unbelievably amazing; just as impressive as Machu Picchu.  Around the corner from our hotel was a Chocolate Museum. Create your own chocolate bar ( visions of I Love Lucy pop in my head as she and Ethel work in the candy factory).  We enjoyed walking around the town - there was something interesting around every corner.
Machu Picchu was our next stop - a definite must-see! Built by the Incas around 1450, it was abandoned about 100 years later. Although it was known to the locals, Hiram Bingham "rediscovered" it and brought it to the attention of the outside world one hundred years ago. There are many different theories about the origin and purpose of this amazing urban center.
 Ollantaytambo is a living Inca town in the Sacred valley and on the way to Machu Picchu. The town is located below the spectacular Inca ruins. It has been built on top of original Inca foundations and is the best surviving example of Inca town planning.

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