United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

 

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Perched on the saddle of a mountain 2,430 metres above sea level, the citadel of Machu Picchu is thought to have played an important role in the religion of the sun-worshipping Inca people who lived in the area from the 11th to the 16th centuries. It was so well hidden in the eastern slopes of the tropical Andean forest that it was discovered only in 1911 by the American archaeologist Hiram Bingham. Aside from its extraordinarily beautiful setting, it was probably the most amazing urban creation of the Inca empire at its height, its giant walls, terraces and ramps seeming to have been cut naturally in the continuous rock escarpments. This region of the upper Amazon basin also provides a rich diversity of flora and fauna.

Designed by the Peruvian sculptor Alberto Guzmán, the medal was minted in Germany in 1979 by the Staatliche Münze, Karlsruhe, the obverse showing a majestic view of the site. The reverse shows Intihuatana (Place to Bind the Sun), from one of the temples around the citadel’s central square, with a modern rendition of a sundial. The site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1983.

Available in gold and silver.

Photo © UNESCO/N. Burke

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