Top 10 Most Famous Peru Landmarks Travelers Talk About
Peru is a fascinating South American country that is situated along the western coast of the continent. Here not only are guests treated to a delightful array of ancient wonders but also stunning landscapes including rainforests, cloudy mountains and sprawling deserts. There is much to see and do here, but few travelers come and go without seeing at least some of the most famous landmarks in Peru, ten of the most popular of which we’ve detailed below.
1. Machu Picchu: This 15th century former Inca Empire is one of the most visited ancient sites in the entire world. Not only is it situated over six thousand feet above sea level in a mountainous jungle paradise, but it also boasts some of the most stunning representations of ancient architecture on the planet. Not only is it one of the most well known of all Peru landmarks, the World Heritage Site is also one of the most recognizable in the entire world, drawing thousands upon thousands of visitors each and every year. Here a carved landscape gives way to intact staircases and former building walls and local wildlife grazes amongst the remnants of a ruined and abandoned former ancient mega city.
2. Cuzco: Once a sprawling Incan metropolis complete with agricultural, industrial and artisan allowances, the 16th century Spanish takeover of the city has led to a unique combination of ancient and old world appeal. Here the remnants of Incan Peru landmarks are masked or blended with baroque elements brought by the Spaniards for a surprising combination of the best of numerous civilizations. Temples, monuments and other buildings were literally constructed in and on top of the once great Inca city, meaning that guests can visit both awe inspiring sites like the Sun Temple ruins as well as baroque churches and palaces.
3. Huacachina: When desert wanderers are depicted in cartoons and movies hallucinating of a watery oasis in the middle of the desert, perhaps they are dreaming of Huacachina, the most accurate representation of a desert oasis in the entire world. Literally, a small body of water and palm trees completely surrounded by hot sand dunes, Huacachina is one of the most unique of all Peru landmarks. The little lagoon has served as a beauty spa spot and popular tourist destination for decades.
4. Inca Salt Pans: The triumphs of human ingenuity are well preserved here at the Salt Pans, which are still used today by allowed members of the community that owns them. The pans were constructed as a way to harvest salt by and elaborate evaporation and streaming process. Although one of the more unusual looking Peru landmarks, these evaporation pools, all shaped as polygons, were carefully designed in order to extract the salt from water coming from local springs. These ancient element extractors have been in use since the time of the Incas.
5. Nazca Lines: There are some things constructed in ancient times that continue to baffle experts around the world, as they are so advanced and so before their time, their existence seems to defy all reason. The pyramids in Egypt are once such example, and are perhaps as enigmatic as the lines found at Nazca. South of Lima, perfectly placed lines are strategically situated on a grand scale to form pictures and other geometric representations. There are thought to be just under nine hundred of these massive Peru landmarks, which were only found once aerial travel was possible because they are hardly noticeable from the ground. It’s known that the lines were made by removing the red stones on the valley’s surface to reveal the white rock underneath, but just how they were so precisely laid out remains a mystery, as well as what their purpose is. Guests are best served viewing the lines from above to really enjoy their awe inspiring nature.
6. Colca Canyon: Southern Peru is home to the Colca River and the canyon that bears its name. Perhaps less popular of a stop than other Peru landmarks, the canyon is significant for multiple reasons. The deep trench is thought to be the deepest in the world, nearly twice as much so as the Grand Canyon. Moreover, it’s also home to a dwindling population of condors, a magnificent avian specimen that calls this once surprisingly inhabited place home.
7. Floating Islands Lake Titicaca: Given the rich history of the country, a vast majority of Peru landmarks are attributed to the Incan people with whom the area is synonymous. However, the floating islands that are found on Lake Titicaca predate the great Incan civilization and are again a marvelous example of human ingenuity. Artificially constructed from lake reeds, the floating islands were built as part of a defensive strategy so that they could literally be moved if needed. A thriving culture exists here amongst the people who have made their homes and purposeful buildings from the available materials that grow here with which intricate dragon boats and more are also made.
8. Plaza de Armas in Lima: If visiting the coastal city of Peru, a stop at the Government palace facing San Cristobal Hill is a must. Conqueror of the Incas, Pizarro, began construction on the site he liked so much here in the 1500s. Because it’s a functioning structure, unlike many other Peru landmarks, access inside is restricted although guided tours can be arranged. However, the exterior of the grand palace is a sight worth seeing alone, as well as the noontime changing of the guard, which occurs daily.
9. Lobos del Callao: There is no walking to this Lima destination, but boat rides are available for tourists from many spots within the city including the market. The attraction is a mass of sea lions that perch atop a perilous looking cliff like structure to the delight of on looking adorers. While many Peru landmarks require an entire day to see and enjoy, this sea lion haven involves spending many hours on a boat getting battered by some often intense waves and the return trip alone can take three hours. However, past guests agree that it’s an inexpensive treat and a must see for guests to Lima.
10. Iquitos: There is no road to reach this rainforest city, situated in the northernmost part of Peru. Only by river can adventurous tourists make their way into the surprisingly modern and elegant city that boasts elegant shops and restaurants as well as more traditional dugouts and traditions. Most Peru landmarks are not entire cities, but this one is unique because of its exclusivity and seclusion. Past guests highly recommend a stay here, but warn of the higher prices due to the rising costs associated with everything being imported.