Story and Photos by Mathilde van Tulder
Machu Picchu was previously believed to be a religious complex, but most historians now agree that it was a royal estate, divided into sections for agriculture, food storage, royal and common residences, and temples. The Incas built the hilltop complex around 1450, but it was abandoned just over a century later during the Spanish Conquest. Many of the buildings have since been restored for the benefit of tourists, a project that continues to this day. Now the most well-known remnant of Incan civilization, the site sits high above Peru’s Sacred Valley at an elevation of 8,000 feet.
Sitting high on a ridge above the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the Cusco region of Peru, the terraced depressions of the ancient Moray ruins create levels that each have distinct temperature conditions. Some archaeologists think that these terraces were used to test the ideal growing conditions for different va rieties of corn and other crops.
This story appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Baedeker.