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article imageUNESCO grants World Heritage status to ancient Inca road system

By Igor I. Solar     Jun 22, 2014 in World
Doha - The Inca Trail, a complex road network crossing six South American countries was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The award recognizes the historic and cultural significance of the ancient route used by the Incas and later by the conquistadors.
Delegates of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Heritage Committee, voted on Saturday 21 at the meeting in Doha, Qatar, to grant World Heritage status to the ancient road system spanning six countries in South America. The road network known as Inca Road (Spanish “Camino Del Inca”) is considered an engineering marvel comparable to the vast road system of the Roman Empire.
Some of the trails that make up the vast communications network known as the Inca Trail (in Quechua Qhapac Ñan) were built before the thirteenth century by the Huari culture of ancient Peru. Several of these early routes were improved and used by the Incas to control their empire spread from south to north through the Andean regions now occupied by Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.
The main route of the Inca Trail is a mountain road with a length of 6,000 kilometers. From the main road extend many sections that branch out westward to the coast and eastward to the western regions of Argentina and the highlands of Bolivia forming a network of some 30,000 kilometers in the direction of the four cardinal points of the Inca Empire which center was in the city of Cuzco.
Some sections of the Inca Trail still exist and are traveled by the current inhabitants of the mountainous regions of Peru. There are cobble-stoned portions, paved with flagstones, and some sections with embankments and retaining walls on both sides of the route.
View of the mountains and down towards the Urubamba Valley from Machu Picchu. Part of the Inca Trail...
View of the mountains and down towards the Urubamba Valley from Machu Picchu. Part of the Inca Trail follows the Urubamba River.
Peru concentrates most of the paths of the old routes known today. The most famous stretch receiving millions of tourists from around the world is the section from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. It is a primitive road of 88 km (55 miles) made with ancient stone steps among the forests. It starts at approximately 2,800 metres above sea level (MASL) from Cuzco at the Urubamba River, reaching an altitude of almost 4000 meters before descending to Machu Picchu located at 2,430 MASL.
One of the best views of Machu Picchu overlooking the main square and the Huayna Picchu mountain in ...
One of the best views of Machu Picchu overlooking the main square and the Huayna Picchu mountain in the background of the citadel.
For the six countries traversed by the Inca Trail the designation of the ancient road as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO means a valuable recognition of one of the most important monuments of the Andean world. The distinction is expected to allow international agencies to secure funding for the conservation and restoration of trails and sanctuaries along the historic route.
More about inca trail, Machu picchu, Peru, Chile, Inca Empire
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