For a better appreciation of the culture, mythology, knowledge and expertise that once animated the now ghostly shell of Machu Picchu, visit Machu Picchu Museum (Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Balló).

Located 1.7 kilometres from Agua Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo), this quaint stone and timber building sits at the base of the Machu Picchu mountain on the route to the ruins from town, and is accessed via a bridge over the mighty Urubamba.

The museum holds the booty of numerous archaeological digs carried out by researchers of the Instituto Nacional de Cultura de Cusco. It consists of stone, metal, ceramic and bone artefacts, multimedia displays, photos and detailed captions and plaques explaining the wonders on display.

Lovers of all things practical and scientific will appreciate the insights into the Inca arts of quarrying and manipulating metal and stone – where and how it was acquired and the manner by which stone was cut and beaten and the metal melted and manipulated into form. You’ll also leave with a better appreciation of the northern sector of Machu Picchu where the discovery of a copper slag provided much of this understanding.

Visitors are also invited to learn of the Inca conception of death while viewing objects found in Inca graves likely to have been considered useful in the afterlife: cooking pans, knives, utensils, and personal ornaments of different kinds.

The layout of the museum also corresponds to that of the Inca city, while geometric cylindrical, semi-circular and trapezoidal shapes mirror Inca architectural forms.

If you’re visiting Machu Picchu from Agua Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo), we recommend giving yourself a few hours to explore the museum the day before. That said, weary wanderers, post Inca Trail and Machu Picchu, will certainly find their memory of the site enhanced by the light of erudition the museum provides.

The Museum is open daily except Sunday from 10am to 4pm and costs S/. 20 – children under 12 get in for free.

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