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Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu

Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu stands 2,430 m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting. It was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height; its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.

Sanctuaire historique de Machu Picchu

À 2 430 m d'altitude, dans un site montagneux d'une extraordinaire beauté, au milieu d'une forêt tropicale, Machu Picchu a probablement été la création urbaine la plus stupéfiante de l'Empire inca à son apogée : murailles, terrasses et rampes gigantesques sculptent les escarpements rocheux dont elles paraissent le prolongement. Le cadre naturel, sur le versant oriental des Andes, fait partie du bassin supérieur de l'Amazone, riche d'une flore et d'une faune très variées.

معابد ماشو بيتشو التاريخيّة

على ارتفاع 2430 مترا، وفي موقعٍ جبلي في غاية الجمال، وسط غابة مدارية، من المرجح ان يكون ماشو بيتشو الابداع البشري الأبهى في أوجّ عظمة عهد الإنكا: أسوار مرتفعة وباحات ودرابزينات عملاقة تنحت الصخر لتبدو وكأنها امتداد طبيعي لها. ويشكّل الاطار الطبيعي على المنحنى الشرقي للأنديز، جزءًا لا يتجزّأ من حوض الأمازون الداخلي الغني بنباتات وحيوانات متنوعة.

source: UNESCO/ERI


马丘比丘古庙位于一座非常美丽的高山上,海拔2430 米,为热带丛林所包围。该庙可能是印加帝国全盛时期最辉煌的城市建筑,那巨大的城墙、台阶、扶手都好像是在悬崖峭壁自然形成的一样。古庙矗立在安第斯山脉东边的斜坡上,环绕着亚马逊河上游的盆地,那里的动植物非常丰富。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Руины древнего города Мачу-Пикчу

Город находится на высоте 2430 м над уровнем моря в окружении тропических зарослей, в исключительно живописной горной местности. Мачу-Пикчу был, вероятно, самым удивительным городом государства инков, созданным в период его расцвета. Мощные стены, террасы и пандусы выглядят так, словно их создала сама природа, вырубив прямо в скалах. Этот район, располагающийся в верховьях Амазонки на восточных склонах Анд, отличается богатой флорой и фауной.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Santuario histórico de Machu Picchu

Ubicado a 2.430 metros de altura en un paraje de gran belleza, en medio de un bosque tropical de montaña, el santuario de Machu Picchu fue probablemente la realización arquitectónica más asombrosa del Imperio Inca en su apogeo. Sus murallas, terrazas y rampas gigantescas dan la impresión de haber sido esculpidas en las escarpaduras de la roca, como si formaran parte de ésta. El marco natural, situado en la vertiente oriental de los Andes, forma parte de la cuenca superior del Amazonas, que posee una flora y fauna muy variadas.

source: UNESCO/ERI


source: NFUAJ

Historisch heiligdom Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu ligt 2.430 meter boven de zeespiegel in het midden van een tropisch regenwoud, in een buitengewoon mooie omgeving. Het was waarschijnlijk de meest verbazingwekkende stedelijke creatie op het hoogtepunt van het Incarijk. Het lijkt of haar reusachtige muren, terrassen en glooiingen op een natuurlijke manier zijn uitgehouwen in de rotsformaties. De stad is een zeldzaam voorbeeld van hoe men ruw, bij de omgeving passend materiaal gebruikte binnen de architectuur. De natuurlijke omgeving van Machu Picchu – op de oostelijke hellingen van de Andes – omvat het bovenste stroomgebied van de Amazone met zijn rijke diversiteit aan flora en fauna.

Source: unesco.nl

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Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu © Silvan Rehfeld
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief Synthesis

Embedded within a dramatic landscape at the meeting point between the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon Basin, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is among the greatest artistic, architectural and land use achievements anywhere and the most significant tangible legacy of the Inca civilization. Recognized for outstanding cultural and natural values, the mixed World Heritage property covers 32,592 hectares of mountain slopes, peaks and valleys surrounding its heart, the spectacular archaeological monument of “La Ciudadela” (the Citadel) at more than 2,400 meters above sea level. Built in the fifteenth century Machu Picchu was abandoned when the Inca Empire was conquered by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. It was not until 1911 that the archaeological complex was made known to the outside world.

The approximately 200 structures making up this outstanding religious, ceremonial, astronomical and agricultural centre are set on a steep ridge, crisscrossed by stone terraces. Following a rigorous plan the city is divided into a lower and upper part, separating the farming from residential areas, with a large square between the two. To this day, many of Machu Picchu’s mysteries remain unresolved, including the exact role it may have played in the Incas’ sophisticated understanding of astronomy and domestication of wild plant species.

The massive yet refined architecture of Machu Picchu blends exceptionally well with the stunning natural environment, with which it is intricately linked. Numerous subsidiary centres, an extensive road and trail system, irrigation canals and agricultural terraces bear witness to longstanding, often on-going human use. The rugged topography making some areas difficult to access has resulted in a mosaic of used areas and diverse natural habitats. The Eastern slopes of the tropical Andes with its enormous gradient from high altitude “Puna” grasslands and Polylepis thickets to montane cloud forests all the way down towards the tropical lowland forests are known to harbour a rich biodiversity and high endemism of global significance. Despite its small size the property contributes to conserving a very rich habitat and species diversity with remarkable endemic and relict flora and fauna.

Criterion (i): The Inca City of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is the articulating centre of its surroundings, a masterpiece of art, urbanism, architecture and engineering of the Inca Civilization. The working of the mountain, at the foot of the Huaya Picchu, is the exceptional result of integration with its environment, the result from a gigantic effort as if it were an extension of nature.

Criterion (iii):The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is a unique testimony of the Inca Civilization and shows a well-planned distribution of functions within space, territory control, and social, productive, religious and administrative organization.

Criterion (vii): The historic monuments and features in the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu are embedded within a dramatic mountain landscape of exceptional scenic and geomorphological beauty thereby providing an outstanding example of a longstanding harmonious and aesthetically stunning relationship between human culture and nature.

Criterion (ix): Covering part of the transition between the High Andes and the Amazon Basin the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu shelters a remarkably diverse array of microclimates, habitats and species of flora and fauna with a high degree of endemism. The property is part of a larger area unanimously considered of global significance for biodiversity conservation.


The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu meets the conditions of integrity, as the natural and human-made attributes and values that sustain its Outstanding Universal value are mostly contained within its boundaries. The visual ensemble linking the main archaeological site of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu with its striking mountain environment remains mostly intact.

It is desirable to extend the property to encompass an even broader spectrum of human-land relationships, additional cultural sites, such as Pisac and Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, and a larger part of the Urubamba watershed would contribute to strengthening the overall integrity. In particular, the value for the conservation of the many rare and endemic species of flora and fauna would benefit from the inclusion or a stronger management consideration of the adjacent lands. A considerable number of well-documented threats render the property vulnerable to losing its future integrity and will require permanent management attention.


Upon the abandonment of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu at the beginning of the sixteenth century, vegetation growth and isolation ensured the conservation of the architectural attributes of the property. Although the design, materials and structures have suffered slight changes due to the decay of the fabric, the conditions of authenticity have not changed. The rediscovery in 1911, and subsequent archaeological excavations and conservation interventions have followed practices and international standards that have maintained the attributes of the property.

Protection and management requirements

The state-owned Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is an integral part of Peru’s national protected areas system and enjoys protection through several layers of a comprehensive legal framework for both cultural and natural heritage. The boundaries of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu are clearly defined and the protected area is surrounded by a buffer zone exceeding the size of the property.

The Management Unit of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (UGM) was established in 1999 to lead the strategies contained in the Master Plans, which are the regularly updated governing documents for the management of the property. UGM was reactivated in 2011 and is comprised of representatives of the Ministries of Culture, Environment and Foreign Trade and Tourism, the Regional Government of Cusco, serving as the President of the Executive Committee, and the local municipality of Machu Picchu. A platform bringing together key governmental representatives at all levels is indispensable for the management of a property which forms part of Peru’s very identity and is the country’s primary domestic and international tourist destination.

Notwithstanding the adequate legislative and formal management framework, there are important challenges to the inter-institutional governance and the effectiveness of management and protection of the property. The dispersed legislation would benefit from further harmonization and despite existing efforts the involvement of various ministries and governmental levels ranging from local to national remains a complex task, including in light of the sharing of the significant tourism revenues. Tourism itself represents a double-edged sword by providing economic benefits but also by resulting in major cultural and ecological impacts. The strongly increasing number of visitors to the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu must be matched by an adequate management regulating access, diversifying the offer and efforts to fully understand and minimize impacts. A larger appropriate and increasing share of the significant tourism revenues could be re-invested in planning and management. The planning and organization of transportation and infrastructure construction, as well as the sanitary and safety conditions for both tourists and new residents attracted by tourism requires the creation of high quality and new long-term solutions, and is a significant ongoing concern.

Since the time of inscription consistent concerns have been expressed about ecosystem degradation through logging, firewood and commercial plant collection, poor waste management, poaching, agricultural encroachment in the absence of clear land tenure arrangements, introduced species and water pollution from both urban waste and agro-chemicals in the Urubamba River, in addition from pressures derived from broader development in the region. It is important to remember that the overall risks are aggravated by the location in a high altitude with extreme topography and weather conditions and thus susceptibility to natural disasters. Continuous efforts are needed to comply with protected areas and other legislation and plans and prevent further degradation. There is also great potential for restoring degraded areas.

Long Description

Machu Picchu bears, with Cuzco and the other archaeological sites of the valley of the Urubamba (Ollantautaybo, Runcuracay, Sayacmarca, Phuyupamarca, Huiñay Huayna, Intipucu, etc.) a unique testimony to the Inca civilization. Cuzco and the old villages still retain traces of land occupation from the Inca Empire to preserve, in a more global manner, an archaeological heritage which has become susceptible to the effects of urbanization. Furthermore, Macchu Picchu is an outstanding example of man's interaction with his natural environment.

Standing 2,430 m above sea level, in the midst of a tropical mountain forest in an extraordinarily beautiful setting, Machu Picchu was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca Empire at its height. Its giant walls, terraces and ramps seem as if they have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. The natural setting, on the eastern slopes of the Andes, encompasses the upper Amazon basin with its rich diversity of flora and fauna.

Machu Picchu covers 32,500 ha in some of the scenically most attractive mountainous territory of the Peruvian Andes. As the last stronghold of the Incas and of superb architectural and archaeological importance, Machu Picchu is one of the most important cultural sites in Latin America; the stonework of the site remains as one of the world's great examples of the use of a natural raw material to provide outstanding architecture which is totally appropriate to the surroundings. The surrounding valleys have been cultivated continuously for well over 1,000 years, providing one of the world's greatest examples of a productive man-land relationship; the people living around Machu Picchu continue a way of life which closely resembles that of their Inca ancestors, being based on potatoes, maize and llamas. Machu Picchu also provides a secure habitat for several endangered species, notably the spectacled bear, one of the most interesting species in the area. Others animals include: dwarf brocket, the otter, long-tailed weasel, pampas cat and the vulnerable ocelot, boa, the Andean cock of the rock, and the Andean condor.

The natural vegetation is of humid and very humid lower montane forest of the subtropical region, mainly with genera and ferns of the Cyathea and palms.

Set on the vertiginous site of a granite mountain sculpted by erosion and dominating a meander in the Rio Urubamba, Machu Picchu is a world renowned archaeological site. The construction of this amazing city, set out according to a very rigorous plan, comprises one of the most spectacular creations of the Inca Empire. It appears to date from the period of the two great Incas, Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui (1438-71) and Tupac Inca Yupanqui (1472-93). The function of this city situated at least 100 km from the capital, Cuzco, has not been formulated which are not verifiable given the absence of written documentation and sufficiently explicit material evidence.

Without making a judgement as to their purpose, several quite individual quarters may be noted in the ruins of Machu Picchu: a quarter 'of the Farmers' near the colossal terraces whose slopes were cultivated and transformed into hanging gardens; an 'industrial' quarter; a 'royal' quarter and a 'religious' quarter. Inca architecture reveals itself here in all of its force with the titanic earthen works which multiplied the platforms, levelled the rocky relief, constructed ramps and stairways and literally sculpted the mountain whose cyclopean constructions appear to be a prolongation of nature.