Peru has a fascinating history that spans thousands of years. Its story begins with the rise of the ancient Inca civilization, one of the most advanced and sophisticated cultures of the pre-Columbian Americas. The Incas left behind a legacy of monumental architecture, impressive engineering feats, and intricate religious beliefs that continue to intrigue and inspire visitors from around the world.
Uncovering the Secrets of the Ancient Incas
The Inca civilization spanned from what is now modern-day Colombia down to Chile in South America. But it’s in Peru where the most impressive sites are found. Machu Picchu is the most famous, but there are many other ruins, such as the impressive fortress of Ollantaytambo, the mysterious Moray circular terraces, and the stunning terraces of Pisac. Each of these sites tells a unique story about the Inca civilization and their beliefs.
The Inca civilization began to emerge around 1200 AD, but it wasn’t until the 1400s that they began to conquer neighboring tribes and build a vast empire. The Incas were skilled farmers and engineers, and they created an extensive network of roads, bridges, and irrigation systems to support their expanding civilization.
Religion played a significant role in Inca life, and they worshipped many gods, known as huacas. Each god had a specific role in their society, from the god of the sun, Inti, to Pachamama, the goddess of the earth. They believed that their rulers were direct descendants of the sun god, and this gave them immense power and influence.
But the Inca civilization was not destined to last forever. In 1532, the Spanish conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro, arrived in Peru to begin their conquest. The Incas, who had never encountered outsiders before, were no match for the superior weaponry and tactics of the Spanish. Pizarro executed Atahualpa, the last Inca emperor, and within a few short years, the Inca civilization was all but destroyed.
The Secrets of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu was built by the Inca civilization around 1450 AD and is located high in the Andes Mountains. For many years, it was hidden from the outside world, and it wasn’t until 1911 that it was rediscovered by a team of explorers led by Hiram Bingham.
Machu Picchu is one of the most famous and iconic landmarks in South America. The site’s name means “Old Mountain,” and it’s thought to have been used as a royal estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. Its impressive terraces, stone structures, and intricate water systems offer a glimpse into the advanced engineering skills of the Inca civilization.
Machu Picchu is also shrouded in mystery. Historians still debate its purpose and how it was constructed using only hand tools and muscle power. They also wonder why the site was abandoned and left to be lost to the jungle for centuries.
Q: When is the best time to visit Peru?
A: The best time to visit Peru is during the dry season, which lasts from May to September. However, if you’re planning to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the best time to go is between June and August, as this is when the weather is driest.
Q: Is it safe to travel to Peru?
A: Peru is a safe country to visit, but like anywhere else, it’s important to be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Petty crime can be a problem in larger cities like Lima, so it’s essential to keep an eye on your belongings and avoid walking around alone at night.
Q: Do I need to speak Spanish to travel to Peru?
A: While it’s helpful to speak some Spanish, it’s not necessary to enjoy all that Peru has to offer. Many people in larger cities speak English, and it’s easy to find tour guides and translators to assist you.
Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Peru
1. Machu Picchu – The iconic Inca site that draws millions of visitors each year.
2. Cusco – The ancient capital of the Inca Empire and home to many incredible sites, including the Temple of the Sun and the Inca walls.
3. Lake Titicaca – The world’s highest navigable lake, with breathtaking scenery and unique cultures.
4. Nazca Lines – Ancient geoglyphs that span over 50 km of deserts and valleys.
5. Sacred Valley – A stunning region of the Andes that’s home to a series of Inca ruins, including Ollantaytambo and Pisac.
6. Colca Canyon – One of the world’s deepest canyons, home to majestic Andean condors.
7. Arequipa – A beautiful colonial city in southern Peru with an impressive historical center and nearby volcano.
8. Huacachina – A desert oasis surrounded by towering sand dunes that’s popular for sandboarding and dune buggy rides.
9. Trujillo – A coastal city that’s home to the ancient Moche pyramids and Huacas del Sol y la Luna.
10. Amazon Rainforest – The world’s largest rainforest that’s home to an incredible array of plant and animal species, including jaguars, macaws, and anacondas.
Peru is a country with a fascinating history that continues to captivate visitors from around the world. From the impressive ruins of the Inca civilization to the natural beauty of the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Rainforest, Peru offers something for everyone. So, whether you’re a history buff or an adventure seeker, be sure to add Peru to your travel bucket list.