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Historic Sanctuary Machu Picchu, Peru

Historic Sanctuary Machu Picchu, Peru

The Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu, 8,000 feet above sea level in the Sacred Valley of the Andes, is the most-visited site in Peru. Situated in the Urubamba Valley of the Cuzco Region, the site is a testimony to the advances of Incan engineering and culture. Its more than 200 buildings include religious, ceremonial, scientific, administrative and domestic structures.

Built in the 15th century, Machu Picchu was abandoned during the Spanish conquest of the Incan Empire in the 16th century. It was never found by the Spanish. It remained unknown to the outside world until 1911, when it was shown to American archeologist Hiram Bingham by locals. The site was in excellent condition with intact royal living quarters, extensive agricultural terraces and water catchment and delivery systems. The buildings show the sophistication of Incan construction techniques. Large stones shaped and fitted together without mortar support multiple-storied structures, platform mounds and massive agricultural terraces.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site encompasses not only the archeological complex but also includes more than 80,500 acres, a span of 5 miles, of surrounding natural areas. The diverse ecosystem supports a broad spectrum of native plants and wildlife. The sanctuary complex demonstrates the vast knowledge of the Inca about their natural environment and their ability to use these resources to support their extensive empire.

More than 120 agricultural terraces span several ecological zones and a range in altitude that allowed cultivation of a diverse array of crops. Cultivated plants include those native to the tropical lowlands of the Amazon basin to those that thrive at altitudes up to 12,000 feet. Scientists studying the nutritional elements of these plants used in Peruvian food find that many have exceptional food value.

The recognition of the importance of these foods has sparked an interest in Peruvian food throughout the world. Peruvian restaurants are found in cities on every continent. La Costanera Restaurant near San Francisco serves a modern interpretation of authentic Peruvian food that reflects the culinary heritage of the ancient Inca. This Peruvian restaurant also offers wines from Spain, South America, Portugal and California carefully selected to complement the menu. Specialty cocktails include traditional Peruvian alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages like Pisco de agave and chilcanos. Chef Carlos Altamirano invites you and your guests to join him for happy hour or a leisurely dinner at La Costanera Restaurant.

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