Vilcabamba or Espíritu Pampa (from Quechua: Willkapampa, "sacred valley") was a city founded by Manco Inca in 1539 and was the last refuge of the Inca Empire until it fell to the Spaniards in 1572, signaling the end of Inca resistance to Spanish rule.
After the Inca empire fell, the city was burned and the area swiftly became a remote, secluded spot. The location of Vilcabamba was forgotten.
The first outsiders in modern times to rediscover the remote forest site that has since come to be identified with Old Vilcabamba (Vilcabamba la Vieja) were three Cuzqueños: Manuel Ugarte, Manuel López Torres, and Juan Cancio Saavedra, in 1892. In 1911, Hiram Bingham with his book Lost City of the Incas brought to public attention the site of the ruins of the city at the remote forest site then called Espíritu Pampa, 130 kilometres (81 mi) west of Cuzco. Bingham, however, did not realize its significance and believed that Machu Picchu was the fabled "Vilcabamba", lost city and last refuge of the Incas.
In the 1960s, the explorations and discoveries of Antonio Santander Casselli and Gene Savoy finally associated the Espíritu Pampa site with the legendary Vilcabamba. Their 1970 book Antisuyo brought the site to even wider attention. Researcher and author John Hemming provided additional substantive confirmation as to Espíritu Pampa's significance in his 1970 The Conquest of the Incas.
In 1976, Professor Edmundo Guillén and Polish explorers Tony Halik and Elżbieta Dzikowska continued to explore the long-known ruins. However, before the expedition, Guillen visited a museum in Seville where he discovered letters from Spaniards, in which they described the progress of the invasion and what they found in Vilcabamba. Comparison between the letters' contents and the ruins provided additional proof of the location of Vilcabamba.
In 1981, the party of American explorer Gregory Deyermenjian reached and photographed parts of the site, soon thereafter generating a popular article concerning the site and its history.
Later extensive archeological work by Vincent Lee, and especially his exhaustive study, his 2000 book Forgotten Vilcabamba, gave further and even more precise confirmation that has made Espíritu Pampa the definitively accepted site of the historical Vilcabamba.
On June 16, 2006 a museum in Cuzco[which?] unveiled a plaque that commemorates the thirtieth anniversary of the 1976 Vilcabamba findings.
In popular culture 
The lost city of Vilcabamba features in the educational computer game series The Amazon Trail, the Tomb Raider videogame and its remake Tomb Raider: Anniversary, and the books Evil Star and Necropolis by British thriller author Anthony Horowitz. Vilcabamba is also a playable place in the PlayStation 2 RPG Shadow Hearts: From the New World.
The second episode of Michael Wood's 2000 documentary series Conquistadors visits the site of Vilcabamba while telling the story of the fall of the Inca and retreat of Manco and his followers to the remote region as the last surviving remnant of the empire.
The city was the location of British writer Colin Thubron's 2002 novel, To the Last City, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and tells the story of a group of people who set off to explore the ruins of the Inca city in what has been described as a "Heart of Darkness narrative" in a "Marquezian setting".
See also 
- McCrum, Robert (July 28, 2002). "Back to the heart of darkness". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 27, 2010.
- Deyermenjian, Gregory "Vilcabamba Revisited" in South American Explorer, No. 12 (1985)
- Hemming, John (1970). The conquest of the Incas. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. ISBN 978-0-15-602826-4.
- Lee, Vincent H. L. (2000). Forgotten Vilcabamba: final stronghold of the Incas. [Wilson, Wyo.]: Sixpac Manco Publications. ISBN 978-0-9677109-0-7.
- Macquarrie, Kim (2007). The last days of the Incas. New York: Simon Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-6049-7.
- Santander Casselli, Antonio (no date) "Vilcabamba" in Andanzas de un Soñador.
- Savoy, Gene. Antisuyo : the search for the lost cities of the Amazon / Glen Savoy. New York, Simon and Schuster . ISBN 978-0-671-20220-0.
- Waisbard, Simone (1979). The Mysteries of Machu Picchu. New York: Avon Books. ISBN 0-380-43687-6.