Machu Picchu is an Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, above the Urubamba River valley. Built in the 15th century and later abandoned, it’s renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, intriguing buildings that play on astronomical alignments and panoramic views. Its exact former use remains a mystery.
The city, in a terraced saddle at 2,400m, encompasses agricultural and urban areas separated by a moat, and the Huayna Picchu peak. Notable structures include the Temple of the Sun, the Intihuatana ritual stone and the Temple of the Three Windows, whose trapezoidal openings frame mountain views. It can be reached via the Inca Trail, a 2–4-day hike that arrives through the Intipunku (Sun Gate), or as a day trip by rail from Cusco. The local town, Aguas Calientes, has lodging and natural hot springs.