Peru is a country in South America that is home to a rich history and culture. In addition to its rain-forests, deserts, and mountains, Peru is home to many famous landmarks.
Some of these historical sites include Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines, and Lake Titicaca. Check this list to find out more about the country’s renowned spots.
Famous Landmarks in Peru
1. Machu Picchu
This famous site is also known as the “Lost City of the Incas”. It was built as early as 1420 in the Cusco Region of Peru. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This ruined city of the Incas sits on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley.
No one knows the exact purpose of Machu Picchu but there are some theories. One theory claims it may have been a defense fortress. However, the most popular theory marks the place as a retreat for kings.
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As many as 750 people could stay in the city at one time. According to research, the human and animal inhabitants of the site came from different parts of the Inca Empire.
Today, tourists with good endurance can hike the Inca Trail, also known as Camino Inca, to reach the Machu Picchu site. To protect the area, there is a limit to how many hikers are allowed on the trail daily. The other and shorter route is the Lares trek.
2. Sacred Valley
The Sacred Valley is a valley in the Peruvian Andes. It is also called the Urubamba Valley and lies north of Cusco, the Inca capital. This area is very fertile and its irrigation comes from the Urubamba River.
Different civilizations such as the Chanapata, Qotacalla, and Killke lived in this valley before the Incas. 1420 marked the takeover from the Incas and they remained in control until the Spanish came.
The main mountains in the valley include Veronica and Sahuasiray. October through April marks a high precipitation period while July is the coldest time.
3. Colca Canyon
On the side of the southern Andes Mountains. sits Colca Canyon. It is considered to be one of the deepest canyons in the world. It is at its deepest point in the Huambo region.
The Colca River runs through the canyon and is a tributary of the Amazon River. The valley also has a town called Chivay that lies at the center.
This canyon is home to many species of animals such as the Andean condor, vicuña, alpaca, and guanaco. There are also many plants such as the quinoa and kañihua.
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The canyon is a popular tourist destination for its natural beauty as well as its culture.
The pre-Inca andenes (stepped terraces) continued to be maintained by the local people. The Cabana and Collagua people, who were there before the Incas, still live in the area and wear traditional clothing. The Cabana people speak a language called Quechua.
4. Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert. They were created by the Nazca people between 500 BCE and 500 CE.
The lines are shallow designs made in the ground. They were created by removing the reddish pebbles that cover the desert floor. This exposed the white-colored clay beneath.
There are over 800 straight lines, 300 geometric figures, and 70 plant and animal designs. The largest geoglyph is the monkey which is nearly 200 meters long. The figures depict different animals, such as spiders, monkeys, fish, and lizards. There are also human figures and mythological beings.
The Nazca Lines are a mystery because their exact purpose is unknown. It is theorized that they were used for ceremonial or religious purposes. Others believe that they were created as part of an astronomical calendar.
The lines can only be seen from the air, which suggests that they were meant to be seen by beings from another world.
This citadel has stood since the 15th century and is located just outside of Cusco, Peru. It is a large site made up of enormous stones that have been cut and fit together perfectly without the use of mortar.
The name means “variable hawk/falcon” in Quechua, the Inca language. Visitors can overlook the city and the valley to the west.
The site was built by the Incas and is believed to have been used as a ceremonial center or a daricamayo, which is a storage house for food.
The site was also used as a fortress during the Spanish Conquest. It was partially destroyed by the Spanish who used the stones to build houses and a cathedral in Cusco.
Additional ruins were discovered in the area as late as August 2008. While it is no longer a fortress, today local Peruvians use the field area within the walls for athletic activities and celebrate annual festivals like Inti Raymi.
Moray is an archaeological site located in the Cusco Region of Peru. It is approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of the city of Cusco.
The site consists of several large terraced circles that were built into a natural depression in the earth.
The largest circle is approximately 30 meters (98 feet) deep. The temperature difference between the top and bottom of the circle is about 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit). It is believed that the terraces were used to study the effect of different climatic conditions on crops.
The site was built by the Incas on a 3,500-metre plateau west of Maras village.
Mount Salcantay is a mountain in the Cusco Region of Peru. It is part of the Vilcabamba mountain range in the Peruvian Andes. You may see it spelt as Sallqantay or Salkantay. After Huascaran, it is the second highest mountain in Peru.
The mountain is significant to both Peruvian culture and Inca mythology. In Quechua, the language of the Incas, Salcantay means “Wild or Savage Mountain”. In Inca mythology, Salcantay is the apu, or mountain spirit, of the Salcantay snow-capped peak.
The best time to climb Mount Salcantay is between May and October. The dry season offers the best conditions for climbing. The first climbing expedition on the mountain was led by a French-American group in 1952.
Peru’s most famous site, Machu Picchu, is to the north of the mountain.
8. Choquequirao Archaeological Park
Founded in 1536, Choquequirao is an ancient Inca site located in the Peruvian Andes. The site is sometimes called the “Cradle of Gold” because of the many gold objects that have been found there. It’s often called the “little sister of Machu Picchu” since it is very similar in design and architecture.
Sitting on a mountain ridge above the Apurimac River valley, the Choquequirao Archaeological Park covers an area of 1,800 hectares (4,450 acres).
The main buildings are located on the east side of the site and include the main plaza, the royal residential area, and the religious sector. The west side of the site is mostly agricultural terraces.
The site consists of terraces, plazas, temples, and houses. There is also a network of Inca roads leading to and from the site. It is also 3,000 metres above sea level.
The Choquequirao Archaeological Park is located in the Cusco Region of Peru. It is approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of the city of Cusco. The park can be accessed via a long and hard hike lasting 7 to 11 days.
9. Huayna Picchu
Huayna Picchu is a mountain located in the Cusco Region of Peru. It is part of the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary. The mountain is adjacent to Machu Picchu and provides views of the ancient Inca site since it rises above it.
Huayna Picchu means “Young Peak” in Quechua, the language of the Incas. The mountain is also known as “Machu Picchu Mountain”. It is 2,693 metres (8,924 feet) above sea level. Locals say the peak was for virgins and the high priest to reside.
The Huayna Picchu trail is a popular hike for tourists visiting Machu Picchu. The trail is steep and can be dangerous in places. It takes about 2 hours to reach the summit. Only 400 visitors are allowed on the site daily.
Qorikancha is an ancient Inca site located in the Cusco Region of Peru. It was once the most important temple in the Inca Empire. The name Qorikancha means “Golden Temple” in Quechua, the language of the Incas.
The temple was built by the Inca Emperor Pachacuti in the 15th century. It was dedicated to the sun god Inti. The walls and floors of the temple were covered in gold.
It is said that when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1533, they were so impressed by the amount of gold that they demanded it all be melted down and sent back to Spain.
In conclusion, these are ten of the most famous landmarks in Peru. Each one has its own unique history and significance. From the ancient Inca site of Machu Picchu to the beautiful mountain of Huayna Picchu, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this historic South American country.