Following the Spanish conquest, conquistadors tore down most of the Incas' buildings and used the hand-hewn stones to build colonial churches, stately paseos, and residential palaces. Due to its determined resistance, Ollantaytambo is the only place in Peru where people live in the same buildings that once served as homes for the Incan nobility. Most of the narrow streets have their Incan names, and some still maintain stone water channels that bring fresh water from the mountains. Rising above the city are farming terraces irrigated by stone aqueducts. Most of them have been abandoned, but an Incan granary still exists in pristine condition.
Peru's best-known destination is Machu Picchu, an abandoned Incan city that was hidden by the jungle until its 1911 discovery by American historian Hiram Bingham. Today a luxury train named after Bingham and jointly owned by PeruRail Orient-Express Hotels, Trains & Cruises and partner Peruvian Trains & Railways provides daily rail service between Cuzco and Machu Picchu.
As the train nears the town of Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu, the vegetation grows denser, the valleys more claustrophobic, and normal ambient noise is erased by the roaring Urubamba River as it surges over boulders and past stone abutments.
Now home only to llamas and visitors who must depart before sunset, Machu Picchu was the winter abode of Inca royalty who lived in palace apartments constructed of tightly fitting granite boulders and separated by small, grassy plazas. It was here that the Inca enjoyed dinners of roast guinea pig washed down with a fermented maize drink called chicha.