Hidden away in the rocky countryside northwest of Cuzco, Peru, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a royal estate or sacred religious site for Inca leaders, whose civilization was virtually wiped out by Spanish invaders in the 16th century.
Until the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham stumbled upon it in 1911, the abandoned city’s existence was a secret known only to peasants living in the region. The site stretches over an impressive five-mile distance and features more than 3,000 stone steps that link its many levels.
Today, hundreds of thousands of people ramble through Machu Picchu every year, braving crowds and landslides to see the sun set over its towering stone monuments and marvel at the mysterious splendor of one of the world’s most famous man-made wonders.
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