Machu Picchu – Centennial celebrations for U.S. explorer Hiram Bingham's discovery of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu ended with a spectacular sound-and-light show portraying the entire history of this historic site.
Directed by Peruvian filmmaker Luis Llosa, the show was witnessed Thursday night by some 200 guests including Peru's President Alan Garcia.
After kicking off the evening with a video showing the key elements of Peru's chief tourist attraction, groups of artists dramatized an offering made by the Incas to gain permission to begin construction of the sanctuary.
They made their offering to the surrounding mountains, believed to be gods in the Andean culture.
Appearing onstage were delegations from the four territories that made up the Tahuantinsuyo, or Inca Empire, bearing torches that lit up the streets and plazas of Machu Picchu.
Projections on the ancient walls then showed the building of the citadel, after which an actor playing the Inca emperor appeared to thank the gods for their wisdom and support.
The show went on to portray the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, and how it forced the citadel's inhabitants to flee to safer ground.
At this point the evening's most spectacular moment began, a great fireworks display that illuminated the citadel and Huayna Picchu, the mountain that with Machu Picchu forms the background of the most famous photos of the sanctuary.
The show also in included music of the popular "El Condor Pasa," played by the Andean Orchestra and the Cuzco Symphony Orchestra, and sung by Tania Libertad.
The number was followed by other songs including "La Mano Desasida" (The Hand Set Free, from a poem by Martin Adam) and the traditional Cuzco tune "Valicha."
Topping off the show was a man hang-gliding over the citadel imitating the flight of the condor, the region's iconic bird.
The commission responsible for the festivities had been mulling the possibility of staging a large concert at Machu Picchu for months, with Paul McCartney and Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flores named as possible headliners.
But the government subsequently opted for a less ambitious event with fewer guests after UNESCO, which supervises World Heritage Sites such as Machu Picchu, expressed concerns about possible damage to the famed ruins.
With the change, the guest list for Thursday's night main extravaganza was restricted to government officials and members of state-run media outlets, which afterwards distributed photographs and video footage of the event to the rest of the journalists.
Though Bingham's arrival was really on July 24, 1911, Peruvian authorities celebrated on Thursday the centennial of the discovery of Machu Picchu, celebrations that began in the morning at the sanctuary and also included the city of Cuzco, where the day was declared a holiday.