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See yourself in the star mirrors of Machu Picchu

Mortars of Machu Picchu - Theory: They reflect astronomical movement and the passage of the sun across the zenith

When Hiram Bingham embarked on his second, more thorough, expedition to Machu Picchu in 1912, he came upon two large bowl-shaped objects hewn into a solid granite floor.

He was sure he had stumbled into the Inca’s kitchen.

Monolithic kitchen utensils at Machu Picchu - Bingham 1912 ExpeditionThe carved granite boulders in the floor were obviously “utensils” for grinding corn and chuño, a traditional freeze dried potato, he surmised.

Bingham even asked one of his Indian workers to pose with a large stone “pestle” laying nearby to demonstrate his conclusion.

For decades, that interpretation held sway.

But somewhere halfway between Bingham’s death in 1956 and the centennial  celebration of his “scientific discovery” of the Inca Citadel, researchers started to dispute that interpretation, as they did many of his theories.

For one thing, “the depressions are far wider than historical or current Andean mortar-stones would suggest,” noted Hugh Thomson, author of terrific, must-read books, like Cochineal Red and The White Rock: An Exploration of the Inca Heartland. Read More »

Posted in Archaeological Sites, Cusco, Machu Picchu | Tagged Grinding mortars of Machu Picchu, Machu Picchu astronomy, Machu Picchu reflecting pools | Leave a comment

Design of new visitor complex entrance chosen for Machu Picchu


Architectural illustration of what the new ticket office and entrance to Machu Picchu would look likeThe design of a new visitors’ center and entry management point for Machu Picchu was chosen last week, the Peruvian Times reports.

Architect Michelle Llona’s project won the national competition. It was chosen from among four final architectural proposals.

Officials from Peru’s Ministry of Culture announced in January that they were evaluating plans to create a visitor and research center, as well as relocate the entry point into Machu Picchu from the current entrance just outside the mountaintop ruins to down below in the deep river gorge.

“Every year the number of visitors to Machu Picchu increases,” Culture Minister Diana Álvarez Calderón said in a statement, announcing the winning design. “As the Ministry of Culture we are working to ensure its conservation and provide adequate attention to the tourists.”

Construction of the $3 million project is planned to begin in the latter half of 2016.

Plans for a new, improved gateway into Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage cultural and natural site in 1983. The terms of its preservation is mandated under the U.N. convention, as well as Peruvian law.

With nearly 1.2 million visitors to the ancient Inca citadel last year, Machu Picchu far exceeded the daily maximum of tourists agreed to with UNESCO.  Peru is now under intense pressure to make drastic changes in order to avoid the iconic ancient citadel being added to UNESCO’s list of endangered sites. Read More »

Posted in Archaeological Sites, Destinations, Machu Picchu, News | Tagged Machu Picchu conservation, Machu Picchu entrance gate, Machu Picchu entrance tickets, Machu Picchu management | Leave a comment

Antonio Banderas’ tribute to the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu & Peruvian friends

I am so taken with Cusco, with Machu Picchu, with these marvelous people - Antonio Banderas wroteSpanish actor Antonio Banderas left more than a simple thank you note in the hotel guest book last month, following the Inca Trail trek he took with his teenage daughter to Machu Picchu.

The Hollywood leading man wrote a veritable ode to the Inca capital and its people.

Banderas had promised to return to Peru earlier this year after a visit for a charity event, and he made good.

Accompanied by his 17-year-old daughter Stella Del Carmen, he visited Cusco’s main archaeological sites and participated in the “Virgen Del Carmen” festival in Paucartambo, before setting off on the four-day Inca Trail. Read More »

Posted in Cusco, Family Travel, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu, News | Tagged Antonio Banderas, celebrity travel | Leave a comment

Machu Picchu visitor entry in two shifts set to begin this month


Visitors to Machu Picchu will  want  to read this important news about imminent  changes to  the ticketing system for entry into  the ruins, set to being  this month (July 2014)It appears a new ticketing system for visitors to Machu Picchu to enter the Inca citadel in two shifts, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, could be coming sooner than previously announced — this month, in fact.

Ricardo Ruiz Caro, chief of Cusco’s regional Culture Directorate, told reporters that the new policy could take effect as soon as July 15.

The first shift would be from 6 a.m. until 1 p.m. and the second from 1 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.

Alarmingly, Ruiz Caro indicated that the early entry would be for foreign visitors, while “preference” would be given to Cusco locals and Peruvian citizens in the later shift, along with a 30% discount for the inconvenience.

He did not elaborate and Ministry of Culture officials in Cusco haven’t been forthcoming about exactly how this new ticketing system is going to work.

The measure would continue through the rest of the high season, which ends in October, Ruiz Caro said.

So, why is this happening? Read More »

Posted in Machu Picchu, News, Tips | Tagged Machu Picchu entrance tickets, New rules for Machu Picchu, Reglamento de Uso Sostenible y Visita Turistica para la Conservacion de la Ciudad Inca Machupicchu -2014-ddc-cus-mc, Regulations of Sustainable Use and Touristic Visits for the Conservation of the Inca City of Machu Picchu | Comments closed

Barranco’s Bridge of Sighs to undergo makeover

Peru’s tourism ministry and the district of Barranco are about to embark on a major makeover of one of Lima’s best known spots for lovers to steal an enchanted kiss.

Barranco’s famed nighttime attraction for traveling couples, el Puente de los Suspiros, or the Bridge of Sighs, will undergo a 940 thousand sole (or about $338,000) restoration. The work is scheduled to begin later this month, and should be completed in September. It’s part of a larger 10 million sole renewal project, that will also repair the dilapidated La Hermita Chapel.

Major makeover planned for Barranco's best known makeout spot, the Puente de los Suspiros

The work will include replacing the rotted and damaged pine planks that span the 92-foot long bridge, built in 1876.

“There will be no modification to the design, nor will they build any additions. It’s just restoration,”  said Barranco’s district mayor, Jessica Vargas.

Legend has it that if you can successfully hold your breath while walking the full expanse of the bridge while concentrating on a romantic wish, your heart’s desire will be granted.


Posted in Lima, News | Tagged activities in Lima, Barranco | Leave a comment