The ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu reopened Thursday to visitors after being closed since late January due to heavy rainfall and mudslides.
At the re-opening was US actress Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking), who was named in a special ceremony “daughter of Machu Picchu” -- a sort of honorary citizen.
She called the ancient site “beautiful” and “impressive” and urged other Hollywood stars to visit the UNESCO world cultural site.
Located at 2,430 metres, Machu Picchu can only be reached via train or on foot. At the end of January, the rail track as well as foot paths were heavily damaged in the rainfall. Four thousand visitors — most of them from outside Peru -- were evacuated to security.
Machu Picchu itself however was not damaged. In the meantimes, the rail line is partially repaired. Visitors must now travel by car or bus to Piscacucho, where they can board the train.
In the high season, the 550-year-old site draws up to 2,500 visitors a day.
The site gets up to 55,000 visitors per year. The citadel is Peru’s main tourist destination and as such a major source of income.
The so-called “Lost City of the Incas” features over 200 structures including temples, palaces and other buildings.
Built in the 15th century, Machu Picchu remained largely hidden from the outside world until US archaeologist Hiram Bingham came across it in 1911.