03 Mar Why Visit the Empire of the Incas
As the home of the great and ancient Inca Empire, Peru holds a captivating culture and a unique history. It’s a world unlike any other and, dare we say, one of our favorite South American destinations to visit. There are many reasons why everyone should visit the Empire of the Incas, but there are only 8 reasons that keep us coming back to Peru over and over again:
- Lake Sandoval: To sail the Madre de Dios River and stay in a lodge by Lake Sandoval is in one word, remarkable. With close access to the lake, you can observe flora and fauna on a daily basis. The lake is surrounded by palm trees, teeming with toucans, macaws, parrots and other species of birds endemic of the forest. Three days in this “garden of Eden, is an immersion into an unknown world. Travel and Leisure Magazine described it as a place where the most beautiful birds in the world hang-out. The biodiversity of this place covers savannahs, a dense rainforest where parrots, capybaras, giant otters, and black caimans live.
- The Sistine Chapel of the Americas: Entering the doors of the chapel is an eye-popping kaleidoscope of colorful murals, painted ceilings, and an ornate gold-leaf altar. The Chapel dates back to the 16th century and has been declared a UNESCO monument. Outside of the chapel is one of the best markets dealing in jewels made of authentic silver. The Sistine Chapel of the Americas is located near Cuzco in the Andean Village of Andahuaylillas.
- The Archaeological Site of Tipon: This is the only place where the Incas developed a unique irrigation system, with canals that are still fully functional. Tipon has been declared a masterpiece of water management. The American Society of Civil Engineers has placed this unique archaeological site on the list of International Historic Civil Engineers Landmarks. The village of Tipon evokes a serene and bucolic scene where not much has been changed since colonial times.
- Machu Picchu: It’s easy to see why Machu Picchu, the Lost Citadel of the Incas, is one of the top international bucket list destinations in the world. Perched on top of the Andes above the Urubamba, the Sacred River of the Incas, there are 12 acres of terraces, gardens, staircases, temples and aqueducts that cover the area. In 2007, this stone citadel in the sky was voted one of the Seven Wonders of the World with more than 100 million votes. New government regulations currently limit the number of people visiting the ruins on a daily basis. For this reason, it’s recommended to overnight in Aguas Calientes.
- The Sacred Valley of the Incas: Take some time to walk through Indian markets and small villages where life has not changed in centuries. A visit to the colossal fortress of Ollantaytambo offers a unique view of the Sacred Valley. Then, stroll along the narrow cobblestone streets of the last original town built by the Incas in the 14th century. At the foot of the fortress marks Ollantaytambo as the site of the Inca’s greatest military victory over the invading forces of the Spanish Conquistador in 1536.
- City of Cuzco: Cuzco is the former capital of the Inca Empire, also known as the Lion City. Cuzco is known for its Spanish colonial architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The main square is surrounded by Incan walls, arcades, carved wooden balconies and mansions now turned into a hotel. The 17th-century cathedral, with altars of solid silver and gold, is a monument to the faith of the Cuzquenos. The walls of the cathedral are covered by magnificent artwork of the Cuzco School of Painting. The Temple of the Sun, where the Incas worshiped, is another masterpiece built by the Incas. When the Spanish Conquistador arrived, the walls of the temple were covered with gold. There were 700 plates removed and taken to Cajamarca where Pizarro held the Inca prisoner. A few miles outside of the city is the colossal fortress of Sacsayhuaman, another sample of the workmanship of the stonemasons who shaped rocks of enormous proportions and weight.
- City of Lima: Lima, the so-called City of Kings, will take you back in time with its colonial-style buildings and will charm you with its beautiful landscapes and delicious food.
- Archaeological Remains of Pachacamac: This is a religious center pre-dating the Inca Civilization. The name Pachacamac could be translated to “He who Created Land and Time”. Some of the best temples have been reconstructed here. From the top of the Temple of the Sun, we have a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean. The most remarkable structure is the Palace of the Chosen Women.
Wondering what else Peru has to offer? Check out PERU: More than Machu Picchu!
Photos are taken in person or provided by the supplier except where credited.