(Left): A trendy tourist is admiring the panorama of Machu Picchu, while a llama is grazing idly nearby (below).
Setting on the vertiginous site of a granite mountain sculpted by erosion, and dominating a meander in the Rio Urubamba (below), Machu Picchu is a world renowned archaeological site. The construction of this amazing city, set out according to a very rigourous plan at 2,430m above sea level, comprises one of the most spectacular creations of the Inca empire. It is unclear about the function of this city a hundred kilometres from the capital Cuzco. But recent archaeological evidence points to a city of retreat for the Inca nobilities. The UNESCO designates Machu Picchu a World Heritage Site, for its "unique artistic achievement, an absolute masterpiece of architecture".


Pablo Neruda praises the site in his poem The Heights of Machu Picchu: Machu Picchu is a trip to the serenity of the soul, to eternal fusion with the cosmos, there we feel our own fragility. It is one of the greatest marvels of South America. A resting place butterflies at the epicentre of the great circle of life.