The city of Lima, better known as “The City of the Kings,” was founded on the 18th of January in 1535 on the shore of the Rímac River by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro. The word “Lima” comes from the Rímac word meaning “talker.” Lima currently has 9,111,000 inhabitants and is situated on the central coast of Peru by the Pacific Ocean, forming an extensive and populous urban area known as the Lima Metropolitan.
Some of the principal attractions that make this city an incomparable and unforgettable place for visitors are the Plaza Mayor, the Monastery of San Francisco. Many of these places are over 300 years old and contain the remains of Saints, beautiful sculptures, engravings, and incredibly valuable works of art.
Museums and mansions showcase the beauty of the colonial architecture and allow that visitor to appreciate the full story of this country. Archaeological zones of immense importance such as Huallamarca, Pucllana, Pachacamaq, and Caral reveal the history and development of Peruvian culture.
Cusco is a city located in the southeast of Peru in the eastern part of the Andes mountain range near the Huatanay River. It is the capital of the Department of Cusco and in the Peruvian Constitution it is declared the “historic capital” of the country. With a population of 420,137 inhabitants, the city of Cusco, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Information, is the eight most populated city in Peru.
Cusco was the capital of the ancient Incan Empire and one of the most important cities of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru. The Spanish built cathedrals and baroque and neoclassical palaces and plazas, which helped convert Cusco into one of the principal tourist destinations of Peru today. In 1983 it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
At nearly 11,000 feet above sea level, between the Vilcanota and Apurimac Rivers, the air is low in oxygen, but the true atmosphere here is made up of the history, culture, folklore, and traditions that are integral parts of Cusco, anciently known as the “belly button of the World,” or capital of “Tawantinsuyo,” the Incan Empire. Today it is the departure point of millions of travelers who each year embarked on their journey to the lost city of Machu Picchu.
The name, Sacred Valley of the Incas, applies to the valley of the Urubamba River that contains the towns of Pisaq, Calca, Yucay, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo. It is located to the northeast of the city of Cusco. In this valley can be found the ancient Incan sites of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, which give testament to the ability of the Incas to combine the natural forms of the landscape with ceremonial architecture in stone. These sites are tied to the sacred mountains of Pitusiray, Sahuasiray, Veronica, and Chicon. The valley of the Urubamba River has been a privileged agricultural area since ancient times, especially for the cultivation of white corn.
Machu Picchu “Old Mountain,” is the contemporary name that is given to this “llaqta” (ancient Incan settlement). It was constructed before the 16th century on the ridge that unites the mountains of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu in the eastern part of the cordillera Central (central mountain range), in the south of Peru at an elevation of around 8,000 feet.
According to Américo Rivas, a famous writer from Cusco, Machu Picchu was discovered on the 14th of July in 1902 by Agustín Lizárraga, a farmer who discovered this site while looking for new lands to cultivate. 11 years after that, on the 24th of July, Hiram Bingham, an American history professor, arrived at the famous citadel. This architectural treasure had remained hidden for more than four centuries buried in the jungle. It is important to note that the first official record of Machu Picchu was of its discovery by Hiram Bingham in 1911.
Machu Picchu may have been one of the residencies of Pachacutec, the 9th Emperor of the Inca Empire from 1438 to 1470. However, some of Machu Picchu’s best constructions and its obvious ceremonial character illustrate that it was used as a religious center.
Machu Picchu is considered a masterpiece of architecture and engineering, as well as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.