Machu Picchu reopens 25 days after Peru protests forced closure

General view of the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in the Urubamba valley, seventy-two kilometres from the Andes city of Cusco, on 15 February, 2023, open for the first time after they were closed to the public for security reasons on 21 January, after protesters blocked the railways during protests against the government of President Dina Boluarte that have shaken the Andean country since 7 December, 2022.AFP

The Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru's tourist jewel, reopened to visitors on Wednesday, 25 days after it closed due to demonstrations that have shaken the country since last December.

The first groups of tourists could be seen entering the archaeological park early in the morning, taking advantage of an unusually sunny day as they toured the different sites and sacred temples that make up the "llaqta" ("citadel" in Quechua).

Some 700 tourists had visited by midday Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Culture, whose officials were present at the site.

"The capacity is 4,044 visitors a day in eight shifts from 6:00am to 4:00pm," said Maritza Rosa Candia, director of the ministry in Cusco.

The famous citadel, built in the 15th century by the Inca emperor Pachacutec, has been closed to tourism since 21 January as Peru grapples with a social and political crisis that has seen waves of demonstrations, at times violent.

Protesters are seeking the resignation of President Dina Boluarte and new elections.

The train service that transports people and cargo from Cusco to Machu Picchu village, the town located at the foot of the citadel, was interrupted for 18 days due to attacks by demonstrators.

As a result, Machu Picchu, which is only accessible by rail from the town of Ollantaytambo, 90 minutes away, suffered shortages of basic goods and products such as domestic gas.

Tourism is crucial to the Peruvian economy, with the country attracting 4.5 million visitors a year.