'It would destroy it': new international airport for Machu Picchu sparks outrage
Among the Inca archeological sites that abound in Peru, none draw nearly as many tourists as the famed citadel of Machu Picchu. There were more than 1.5 million visitors in 2017, almost double the limit recommended by Unesco, putting a huge strain on the fragile ruins and local ecology.
Bulldozers are already scraping clear millions of tonnes of earth in Chinchero, a picturesque Inca town about 3,800 metres above sea level that is the gateway to the Sacred Valley. This area was once was the heartland of a civilisation that stretched from modern-day Colombia to Argentina, and in the 15th century was the world’s largest empire.
“This is a built landscape; there are terraces and routes which were designed by the Incas,” says Natalia Majluf, a Peruvian art historian at Cambridge University who has organised a petition against the new airport. “Putting an airport here would destroy it.”