Variously listed as a UNESCO 'world heritage site' or one of the 'most unforgettable places to visit before you die', Machu Picchu is unique in so many ways. Built around 1450 AD, it was never found by the Spaniards and thus never plundered. Abandoned by the Incas in 1570 AD for unknown reasons, it remained hidden from the world until it was brought to International attention by Hiram Bingham in 1911. He was not the first to have discovered it and there are stories suggesting an earlier discovery and plunder by a German businessman Augusto Berns. Even Thomas Payne is said to have known about the site. It is one of the seven wonders of the world today and a truly beautiful citadel.
Perhaps built as a personal residence for the Inca emperor Pachacuti, or as a religious site or an agricultural research station, it lies at 8000 ft above sea level and is perched on top of a mountain which is in turn surrounded by taller mountains, keeping it hidden. Reached by the superb Perurail service from Ollayatamba and then by bus from the base station Agua Calientes in the Urubamba valley, it is a hiker's dream. The adventurous can hike all the way from Cusco 50 miles away, but it takes one week and the going is hard, with climbs of more than 2000 ft at a time reaching 14000 feet sometimes. Restoration work is still in progress. The Tamil movie Enthiran (Robot) starring Rajnikanth and Aishwarya was recently shot there - trust Bollywood to get there hands on everything!