Cape Town - Machu Picchu. The mysterious old Incan citadel sitting high in the Andes Mountains of Peru.
For many, it's a must-see landmark connecting the historic world to our new, modern era. But more often than not, it's a dream beyond reach due to limited finances, limited time and restricted physical movability.
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Luckily Google, using their eye-spy street view abilities, is connecting the old world to the new more literally, and has enabled everyone on the planet to experience Machu Picchu virtually from the comfort of their smart devices.
Check it out:
The virtual tour, which launched earlier this month, is part of Street View’s expansion into Latin America. Using an interactive cursor, the map allows visitors to travel through the crumbling walls of the Incan stronghold, touring the various temples and terraces that make up the ancient site.
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Now, before you lament on about how a virtual experience will never equal the actual visiting of the site, the street view initiative is more than just a superficial technology stunt.
Machu Picchu attracts millions of tourists each year, and the influx of visitors is damaging the mountain citadel so severely that UNESCO asked Peru to find ways to preserve the site. Google Street View’s project could help the Peruvian government limit traffic to the mountain, giving people their chance to gawk without destroying what remains of the Incan empire.
Machu Picchu was built in the 15th century. It’s renowned for its sophisticated dry-stone walls that fuse huge blocks without the use of mortar, intriguing buildings that play on astronomical alignments, and panoramic views.
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The iconic historical sanctuary is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and stands 2 430 m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest.
According to UNESCO, "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."
To add another, final element of awe to this already extraordinary site; its exact former use remains a mystery...
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