Llactapata (also spelled Llaqtapata) is a combination of two Quechua words. The pronunciation of Llactapata is yakta-pahta. Hiram Bingham, discoverer of Machu Picchu and many other Incan sites, states that Llacta Pata is a descriptive term; "llacta" means "town" and "pata" means "a height". Thus, more than one site has been, and is, referred to by this name.

In the vicinity of Machu Picchu there appear to be two locations commonly referred to as Llactapata: one is a site about 5 km (3.1 mi) to the west of Machu Picchu; while the other is a site some 15 km (9.3 mi) to the south east of Machu Picchu. Both sites appear to be commonly known as Llactapata; both sites have Incan ruins; both sites are on different stretches of a trail known as the Inca trail.

Hiram Bingham first discovered Llactapata in 1912. "We found evidence that some Inca chieftain had built his home here and had included in the plan ten or a dozen buildings." Bingham locates the site "on top of a ridge between the valleys of the Aobamba and the Salcantay, about 5,000 feet above the estate of Huaquina." "Here we discovered a number of ruins and two or three modern huts. The Indians said that the place was called Llacta Pata." Bingham did not investigate the ruins thoroughly, however, and they were not studied again for another 70 years.

A mid-2003 study of the site conducted by Thomson and Ziegler concluded that Llactapata's location along the Inca trail suggested that it was an important rest stop and roadside shrine on the journey to Machu Picchu. The complex is located some four to five kilometers west of Machu Picchu high on a ridge between the Aobamba and Santa Teresa drainages. This and subsequent investigations have revealed an extensive complex of structures and features related to and connected with Machu Picchu by a continuation of the Inca Trail leading onward into the Vilcabamba. Llactapata may have been a member of the network of interrelated administrative and ceremonial sites which supported the regional center at Machu Picchu. It probably played an important astronomical function during the solstices and equinoxes.

Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llactapata

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