Machu Picchu is a mysterious, mystical city perched high on a plateau in the cloud forest. It is not visible from the river below and so was never found by the Spanish (although the city's inhabitants fled when the Spanish arrived in the river valley).
It was discovered in modern times by American historian Hiram Bingham, who was looking for the last stronghold of the Incas - but Machu Picchu was not it.
Little is known about Machu Picchu and anybody's speculation is probably as good as any theory. My own theory is that it was a place of learning and healing. Our guide told us that pollen from hundreds of plants had been identified, suggesting research into which species was most suitable for the local climate. It was clearly also an astronomical observatory and probably a place of spiritual learning.
View a time-lapse video of the mystic Machu Picchu (3.1 Mbyte, please allow a few moments for download).
Pisac, a citadel in the Sacred Valley.
by Charlie Nelson