Friday, April 2, 2010

Machu Picchu: The Lost City of the Incas

On July 24, 1911, Machu Picchu was brought to the attention of the world by American historian Hiram Bingham, a lecturer at Yale University. He undertook archaeological studies and completed a survey of the area and coined the name ‘The Lost City of the Incas’, which was the title of his first book.

Bingham was searching for the city of Vilcapampa, the last Inca refuge and spot of resistance during the Spanish conquest of Peru. After years of explorations around the zone, he was led to the citadel by Quechuas, the people who were living in Machu Picchu in the original Inca infrastructure. Bingham made several more trips and conducted excavations on the site through 1915.

Machu Picchu was declared a ‘Historical Sanctuary’ of Peru in 1971. It was designated as a World Heritage Site in 1983, describing it as "an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization".

On July 7, 2007, Machu Picchu was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The World Monuments Fund placed Machu Picchu on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world because of environmental degradation.

In January 2010 heavy rain caused flooding which damaged roads and railways leading to Machu Picchu trapping over 2,000 tourists and 2,000 locals. So Machu Picchu was temporarily closed.

On April 1, 2010 Machu Picchu has formally reopened. It is estimated that Peru had lost some $200m in revenue because of the closure, according to Peru's tourism minister. About 90% of Peru's tourist revenue comes from the Cuzco region, where Machu Picchu is situated.

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