Peru (2,720 m, 2,430 m) – Secret Mountain Retreat of the Incan Emperors
The two mountains known as Macchu Picchu and Huayna Picchu are among the most famous natural and historic sites in the Americas. The former, recently designated as one of the New Seven Wonders, was the site of last secret palatial residence of the Incan Emperors. The latter is the magnificent peak that towers over the site across the valley and which has appeared in so many pictures and postcards.
Macchu Picchu refers both to the palace complex and the mountain. Built in the 1400s, it was used for a little over a century as an imperial retreat. Although abandoned by the Incas after the destruction of their empire in the 16th century, the site was never discovered by the Spanish. Moreover, it remained undiscovered by westerners until Hiram Bingham showed up in 1911. Almost perfectly preserved thanks to its remote location, Macchu Picchu remains one of the greatest historical discoveries of the 20th century.
Macchu Picchu and Huayna Picchu are among the most popular tourist destinations in South America. Although remote, there is considerable infrastructure to serve the thousands of tourists who visit every day, mostly from Cusco about fifty miles away as the crow flies. However, due to excessive tourism, the government of Peru may start to set limitations on the numbers of visitors in the near future.