Peruvian sisters Roxana and Victoria Abril are claiming to be the rightful owners of the land on which the UNESCO World Heritage site Machu Picchu is located.
They say it legally belonged to their grandfather.
Roxana and Victoria Abril are asking for millions of dollars in compensation from the Peruvian state.
Machu Picchu is the crown jewel in Peru’s tourism industry, but it has not been without its controversies since its “rediscovery” in 1911 by US explorer Hiram Bingham.
Each year, those on South America adventure tours are joined by hundreds of thousands of other visitors to the famous Incan citadel, which is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
While many travel by train, hundreds of intrepid tourists set out each week to take on the four-day Inca trail trek, arriving at the Sun Gate at sunrise on the fourth morning for a spectacular view of the site that is difficult to forget.
However, a running court battle between the Abril family and the Peruvian government over the ownership of the land and ruins has hit the headlines after the Abrils called on UNESCO to put pressure on ministers to compensate them.
According to the Telegraph, the family bought the site on June 14th 1910 – a year before it was “rediscovered” by Hiram Bingham.
Edgar Echegaray Abril, 70, still holds the deed, which showed that his ancestors paid gold for the site.
The estate was sold to the Zavaleta family in 1944, but the ruins were not part of the deal as they were being expropriated by the state.
However, this expropriation was never completed and Edgar Echegaray Abril and his relations believe they are due compensation from the Peruvian government for decades of tourism on what would appear to be their land.
The Abrils’ lawyer Fausto Salinas claimed that UNESCO should step in to help in the same way it calls for greater protection of the historic ruins.
“The state said at that time  <<we’re going to expropriate>>, but the process was never completed, and in Peru, as in international law, if the property is not expropriated from you, you don’t lose it,” he said.
Meanwhile, the lawyer is also representing the Zavaletas, who are claiming compensation for the land they own lying outside the ruins, but inside the Machu Picchu Archaeological Park.
Those travelling arounf South America and wishing to see Machu Picchu normally start their journey from nearby Cuzco – itself a beautiful mountain city with numerous Incan wonders to behold.
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