On 7 July, Peru celebrates the centenary of the American historian and explorer Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu with the help of local farmers. The Quechua citadel had been largely untouched since the demise of the Inca Empire at the turn of the 15th Century.
On 24 July 1911, Bingham announced the discovery of Machu Picchu, which means “old peak” in Quechua, the pan-Andean native language. Other explorers claimed to have seen the city as early as 1860, although Bingham is recognized as the person who made Machu Picchu famous.
UNESCO designated it a world heritage site in 1983, describing it as “an absolute masterpiece of architecture and a unique testimony to the Inca civilization” and voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Machu Picchu stretches across 32,500 hectares (80,300 acres), but the built-up section is concentrated on a zone 530 metres (1,740 feet) long by 200 metres (660 feet) wide, complete with agricultural terraces and 172 dwellings.
The former head of the National Institute of Culture said, “For Peru, Machu Picchu is like the pyramids of Egypt.” In a bid to highlight the importance of conservation efforts on this beautiful landmark, only 700 people will be allowed on the grounds on the opening day of festivities.